By Emily, Junior Social Media Assistant & Copywriter, Pick & Mix Marketing
Neurodiversity is a concept that has become increasingly more accepted in society since its conception in 1998, with more support available for autistic adults and children in the UK. Despite this, the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that just 22% of autistic adults in the UK are in employment, highlighting how there is still a great deal of stigma attached to simply being wired differently.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is just one neurodevelopmental disability that falls under this umbrella term, and it affects how people communicate and interact with the world around them. A diagnosis is one step towards acceptance and understanding how an individual exists in this world, but it can lead to more questions that should be answered with care and respect.
For autistic individuals, an official diagnosis can raise questions regarding employment and how it could impact work. Whilst this worry isn’t the same for all neurodiverse people, in my case, it was a difficulty I had to tackle head-on.
I was officially diagnosed with autism in September 2021 after a long diagnosis process, which helped explain how and why I think a certain way. Having a strict routine, disliking change, and failing to understand sarcasm are just some of the qualities that were identified as autistic traits, along with social masking that I used to “fit in.”
Whilst applying for a job was not entirely a stressful process for me, it can be for other autistic individuals, as it is heavily reliant on social constructs and communication, which neurodiverse people tend to struggle with. This can range from finding it difficult to answer interview questions to being unable to cope with eye contact. As a result, adjustments should be made available to people on the spectrum to make this process as comfortable as possible.
This understanding should be reflected once an autistic individual becomes part of the team because neurodiverse individuals think and work in different ways. Autistic people have different strengths and weaknesses but are overall incredibly dedicated, and hardworking. We can be perfectionists who love to focus on fine details, be incredibly organised due to our logical thinking, and meet deadlines thanks to sticking to a workflow routine.
Contrastingly, we may need time to understand instructions, support when communicating with clients, and clear guidance on how we can improve our work. We may come across as rude, cold, distant, or quiet, but employers and colleagues must understand that is just how our brains work – our social skills aren’t the same!
At Pick & Mix, I have been accepted with open arms to join a close-knit and hardworking team. Autism hasn’t defined me or been a focus of my identity, but I know that if I ever needed extra support I could reach out for help. Autism acceptance week is a fantastic opportunity for neurodiverse people to share their stories and to raise awareness of the improvements that need to be made within society to help employers gain a greater understanding of ASD.
The National Autistic Society has a wealth of resources on understanding ASD and providing support in the workplace, which you can read here.