Managing People With Autistic Spectrum Disorder
How Can You Help Them Perform at Their Best?
It's a lot easier than most people think to integrate someone with autism into the workplace. It just takes a good manager who is prepared to give some time to bring that person on.– William Elliott, a managing director at Goldman Sachs.
It's your first day managing a new team and you're reviewing your handover notes. You see that one of your team members has Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
You want to offer the right support, but you worry that you don't have the knowledge or experience to deal with the issues that might arise.
In this article, we'll look at the common characteristics of ASD, the challenges that they can bring to the workplace, and the strategies that you can use to manage people who have the disorder.
What Is ASD?
The American Psychiatric Association defines ASD as "a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors." It's a lifelong condition that can affect people's ability to make sense of the world, and it impacts their interactions with others.
ASD is a group of conditions that used to be diagnosed separately – Asperger's Syndrome, Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (or PDD-NOS). It affects people in different ways and to varying degrees.
It's important to keep in mind that neurodiversity can be a benefit to teams and organizations – many companies are now seeking to their improve neurodiversity.
Differences in brain function shouldn't be considered a "problem," it's normal and to be expected in a healthy, high-functioning team.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 68 children are diagnosed with it in the U.S. The National Autistic Society puts this figure at one in 100 people in the U.K. Males are five times more likely to have ASD than females, though more females are being diagnosed....