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Sunday, June 9, 2024

Autism Employment: The Big Picture

IThe Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other disabilitiesMany posts have discussed programs to provide them with training and experience.

Preetika Rana at WSJ reports that autism employment used to be the focus of relatively few companies, mostly in tech.
That is slowly changing, said Marcia Scheiner, president of Integrate Autism Employment Advisors, a New York-based nonprofit that helps place autistic workers.
“You would have companies who’d say, ‘I know nothing about this,’” a few years ago, she said. “That stigma or the fear factor is largely gone.”
Rachel Lowenstein used to beat herself up for being unable to think on her feet during group meetings, eroding her confidence at work. Around the time she was diagnosed with autism in 2020, her company—advertising agency Mindshare—made supporting people like herself a part of her job.

Last year, she worked on neurodivergence campaigns for Google, Getty Images and others. Lowenstein helped Google curate its first neuroinclusive event, which featured sensory rooms, weighted blankets and fidget toys for participants. For stock-images distributor Getty, she created a photo library with portraits of autistic social-media influencers so the demographic could be better represented.

Lowenstein has learned to change how she interacts with people at work—by getting early downloads of what will be presented at meetings, for example—and now offers career tips to autistic workers on social media.
More companies are becoming open to making accommodations and navigating the challenges that come with hiring neurodivergent employees. Those hurdles include training managers to be more communicative and creating more ways to do job interviews and meetings online.

Companies are using new tools to support neurodivergent employees. Startup Inclusively has built a chatbot for people who might not feel comfortable reaching out to human resources for help. It can tell employees about under-the-radar benefits from their employer, such as subscriptions to meditation apps to help with anxiety, noise-canceling headphones and transcription services for hard-to-follow meetings, co-founder Charlotte Dales said.