In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Many posts have discussed programs to provide them with training and experience.
In addition to Ernst & Young, other large companies are developing programs to recruit and retain employees with autism. For instance, SAP has a goal of hiring 650 employees with autism by 2020. So far, the company has hired 116 individuals with autism who range in age from 22 to 59, are located in 17 locations in nine different countries, and spread across 100 teams, says Jose Velasco, head of SAP’s Autism at Work program in the U.S. To help them succeed, SAP provides six weeks of pre-employment training, and once they are hired, they are supported by their manager, who has been given autism awareness training; an office mentor, who has volunteered to help and is from another work team; and a job and life skills coach, Velasco says. SAP and Ernst & Young are informally working with Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard to share best practices for hiring and retaining more employees with autism.
SAP and Ernst & Young have found that hiring employees with autism bring benefits. They provide a different perspective to problem solving and the creative process, Velasco says. Working with an employee diagnosed with autism can help you become a more effective communicator and manager, says Jamell Mitchell, an associate director at Ernst & Young who manages Briefer and several other employees with autism. "I have found myself pausing and saying, ‘I’m not as clear as I can be,'" he says, "and then taking the time to recraft a communication so it’s clear and I am hitting the key points."