Employers Urged to Rethink Workers with Autism

A senior worker teaching his junior the operation of a fork lift vehicle in a factory

ABC News recently ran the following article relating to people with Autism and their struggle with employment: 

As people with autism struggle to counter an unemployment rate of more than 30 per cent — six times the national level — disability groups are calling on employers to rethink how they can tap the potential of this group of prospective workers.

Almost one third of working-age people on the autism spectrum, 31.6 per cent, are unemployed — about three times more than people with disabilities generally.

Disability advocates and support groups are working with businesses to help them change their recruitment practices and office environments to help meet the needs of people on the autism spectrum.

This goes as far as even looking to replace stressful formal interviews with job trials.

And they are urging disability employment service providers to focus on finding suitable, long-term jobs for their clients to help keep them in the workplace.

Davo Hunter, who was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum last November at the age of 34, struggled for years in jobs because his bosses could not understand him.

“A lot of people will catch you on a bad day and they see the bad day and go, ‘he’s hopeless, just cast him off’,” he said.

Executive manager of the Autism Association of WA’s employment program, Russell Thomas, said employers may not be aware people with autism could find regular work environments very stressful.

“A lot might have enhanced sensitivities to sounds and noise and light, so [they] might be sitting in what you think is a quiet environment and they can hear the fluoros [lights] humming, or a squeaky door in the corner,” he said.

He said the high unemployment rate for people on the autism spectrum was partly due to their difficulty in getting access to jobs in the first place.

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