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One Mic Stand: CAI Autism2Work Program

Interview by Jonathan Kersting

One Mic Stand
 

Debunking Employer Perceptions of Neurodivergent Individuals with Anthony Pacilio, Vice President, Autism2Work, CAI

Myth#1: Neurodivergent individuals can only do certain types and levels of work

  • A2W offers (entry-level, mid, and senior) in software development and testing, finance/HR/legal, IT operations and business operations.

Myth #2: Neurodivergent individuals won’t fit into our workplace culture

  • Organizations are instituting more and more neurodiversity programs in large and small corporations
  • This has led to workplace culture becoming different in a good way (more accepting of behaviors)
  • Share real-world example: Neurodiversity in one room vs. being out on the floor

Myth #3: Neurodivergent individuals are poor communicators

  • You need to find out what their method of communication is. Maybe it is video, in-person, phone, but you have to find out that piece first so that you can find out if there is poor communication
  • Neurodivergent individuals can get stuck on topics and overshare but it’s not commonplace
  • Overcommunication is ideal
  • As employers, if change is happening, we have to ensure we’re providing up-to-date communication and it’s understood
  • Communication can also be taken literally, neurodivergent individuals may not understand sarcasm

Myth #4: Neurodivergent individuals require high-cost accommodations for job success

  • It’s a myth because neurotypical people require accommodations as well. For example, auditory and visual accommodations: headphones, assistive technology, that is not high cost
  • For example, a non-cost accommodation would be moving a desk from a high-traffic area to a low-traffic area to impact productivity
  • Red light, yellow light, green light: signs on desk that identify how the employee is feeling/anxiety

Key take-aways:

  • The importance of communication. Ensuring that we are providing that early and often. We are also listening to the person as well. As managers, we’re trying to make sure that they are supported and successful.
  • Ensure that we are providing the tools to be successful. Empathetic leadership.
  • Having people that think differently provide innovation, creativity, and excellent problem-solving skills.