Supporting Employment of Adults with Autism

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This resource is developed as part of the Supporting Transitions project.

Individuals with autism offer unique contributions to the workplace:

  • Excellent at keeping to routines and systems
  • Strong desire to work and contribute
  • Very motivated to do a good job
  • Highly productive in structured environments
  • Lower turnover risk, loyal
  • Highly attuned to patterns

As you begin the process of employing an adult with autism whether as an employee, intern, or volunteer, consider reaching out to an autism support organization who may connect you with qualified candidates and provide candidates with job coaching services. MAC Supporting Transitions Autism Support Organization Directory coming soon!

Supporting Adults with Autism in the Job Application Process

  • Accept job applications in multiple formats
  • Provide clear expectations and be direct about what you are looking for in a candidate
  • Offer multiple interview options (in -person, group, video, job shadowing)
  • Ask for references and contact them to find out what the candidate is like once comfortable in a work-based setting (accept different sources for references as this may be the candidate’s first job)
  • Provide interview questions ahead of time and limit any changes to the interview plan
  • Provide photos of the interview space ahead of time so the candidate can walk in feeling more at ease with their surroundings
  • Limit outside distractions during the interview
  • Make your process as transparent as possible

Supporting Adults with Autism on the Job

  • Individuals with autism thrive in settings with structure and routine.
  • Individuals with autism may have difficulty understanding the conventions for social interaction.
  • Individuals with autism often have unique sensory needs and are prone to sensory overload.
  • Individuals with autism respond well to visual information and information presented in multiple formats.

Environment: It is often misunderstood that to work with an individual with autism a company needs to drastically changes the environment of the workplace. Simple adjustments may help the individual but also frequent communication about the environment can help make the individual more comfortable and productive.

  • Train the employee in the space where they will be working
  • If possible, set up the employee’s workstation in a quiet area
  • If possible, avoid areas lit by fluorescent lights
  • Introduce the employee to an organized workspace

If environmental adjustments are not possible, make sure the employee has a chance to experience the work area either during the interview process or training process.

Visual Support: Individuals with autism often process information better when visual aids are provided. Here are some simple ways to support the individual in this way while training:

  • Provide handouts of documents and forms that will be used on the job
  • Allow/Prompt the employee to take screen shots and photos
  • Provide an employee handbook

Additional Supports:

  • Allow the employee to try things out while you are present so they may ask questions
  • Notify the employee ahead of time of any changes in routine or job responsibilities
  • Offer a space to take a break, somewhere with little activity or stimulation