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Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Workplace Accommodations

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.  

Steven Kurutz at NYT:
A number of large employers across the United States, including Microsoft, Dell and Ford, are taking steps to make workplaces more accessible and welcoming for neurodivergent employees as the number of autism diagnoses rises.

Workplaces with too much light and noise can overwhelm those who are autistic, leading to burnout, said Jessica Myszak, a clinical psychologist in Chicago who specializes in testing and evaluations for autism. Remote work “reduces the social demands and some of the environmental sensitivities” that autistic people struggle with, Dr. Myszak added.

But navigating the job market remains a challenge for autistic people, who are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, according to advocacy groups. And autistic job candidates hoping to make good first impressions might be reluctant to disclose their diagnoses or ask for accommodations upfront.

Back when Natalie Worden-Cowe, 32, was a professional musician, she struggled with the networking side of the business, a key to landing gigs. When she decided, a few years ago, to switch careers and became a software engineer, she had trouble making it through job interviews. Her professional life changed when she discovered Microsoft’s neurodiversity hiring program, which was established in 2015.

The company’s program was modeled after a venture created by the German software firm SAP, and has since been adopted in some form by companies including Dell and Ford. So far, the initiative has brought in about 300 full-time neurodivergent employees to Microsoft, said Neil Barnett, the company’s director for inclusive hiring and accessibility.

“All they needed was this different, more inclusive process,” Mr. Barnett said, “and once they got into the company, they flourished.”

Mrs. Worden-Cowe, who was diagnosed at 29, noticed the difference at Microsoft during the interview process: She was given extra time to answer questions and downtime between meetings with company employees.T