Employment and the Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Accommodations: Improving Access for All

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Everyone deserves access to career fields that are interesting and motivating. Accessibility to potential career paths through accommodations or adaptations is key to allowing opportunity for all. Action steps that lead to access flow from first establishing a foundational belief that all can contribute. Walgreens, for example, has developed company principles that promote ‘access for all thinking’:

“Today our commitment to integrating people with disabilities throughout our workplaces is fully ingrained in the fabric of our organization. Fostering a disability inclusive workplace and culture has enabled Walgreens to tap into a wider pool of talent, retain valued team members, and gain insight into the needs of an important and expanding segment of the customer base.”

Retrieved from https://www.walgreens.com/topic/sr/sr_disability-inclusion.jsp

Through the use of accommodations, employers and employees learn from each other, working together to adapt the workplace for greater success and satisfaction of employees, employers and customers.

A senior manufacturing engineer at Medtronic Corporation, also offers a positive perspective on hiring individuals on the spectrum during an interview in the Intelligent Live Transition Films video “Untapped.” Tima explains she learned a valuable skill from her co-worker with autism. She became aware of a more effective way to question people in order to surface the information she needed to complete her job. She now uses this strategy frequently in her travels across the globe.

Teamwork In A Global Workspace

Accommodations and adaptations to enhance access may be helpful and needed for most people at some point in their lives. Employers may decide to proactively provide these accommodations for all employees or may make them available when the need arises.

Below are examples of the types of accommodations that some employers are offering:

  • Flexible scheduling of the workday
  • Use of technology to collaborate virtually on projects
  • Access to technology that provides accommodation in many standard work tasks
  • Availability of specific timelines for when project steps should be completed
  • Identification of the needed skills to complete a task in order to proactively accommodate skill areas that are challenged
  • Extended time for work completion, breaks or supervision
  • Instruction and information using multiple modalities such as visual supports (words, pictures and video), modeling (observation), auditory (individual discussion, recordings, etc. ), kinesthetic (hands on practice)
  • Multiple ways to determine employee understands work task or concept 

Organizations and companies are increasingly more aware of the benefit of providing accommodations for their employees in all aspects of the employment process. This includes the interview process and internships. For example, a young adult with autism completes college work readiness program but has been unable to obtain an interview for a full or part time job. A local company offers the young adult an internship to build her resume and work skills. Reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Step-by-step support in the hiring process documentation procedures and security clearances
  • Providing resources for resume development
  • Providing options to not only discuss, but also to sample a variety of work tasks in multiple work areas
  • Offering picture and/or written schedules for the daily work
  • Connecting to a mentor during the internship that provides positive energy and feedback on areas of strength and areas for improvement, as well as responding to questions about “company norms” and procedures.

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