What does Autism Works mean for people with autism in SA?


Autism Works SA Adelaide

In 2023, the South Australian Government launched Autism Works, a public education campaign that aims to create greater inclusion in the workplace for people with autism.

The Autism Works campaign has been launched in response to a pressing need for greater understanding of autism among employers, as well as the ways in which people on the spectrum of all ages can, with the appropriate support and inclusion, make invaluable contributions to SA companies and businesses of all sizes, and in a range of sectors.

People with autism face a number of barriers that prevent them joining the world of work, or obtaining meaningful work that enables them to use their full range of capabilities.

Employers can be hesitant to take on people who are on the spectrum for a number of reasons. These can include a lack of understanding as to what people with autism are capable of in the workplace, as well as not knowing how to make appropriate adaptations to the recruitment and induction process to enable autistic people to demonstrate what they can bring to a business or organisation.

A further barrier is that people on the spectrum have very often not received relevant education or training designed to prepare them for employment, and as a result do not have the confidence or experience to apply for work, nor showcase their capabilities during the interview process.

Overall, any program such as Autism Works that raises awareness of the ways in which people with autism are excluded from employment, and just as importantly showcases what they can deliver in the workplace, is to be welcomed. This is especially the case as autistic people in SA are six times more likely to be unemployed than people without a disability.

At EmployCare, we are committed to creating a more socially inclusive society through supporting people with autism (as well as this from other marginalised groups) to be better prepared to apply for jobs, then enter the world of work and build a career.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

People with autism are commonly described as ‘being on the spectrum’ because everyone’s experience of living with autism is different.

Despite the fact that everyone’s lived experience is different, there are nevertheless some behaviours and characteristics that autistic people are likely to share. However, it is also important to appreciate that there are as many differences as similarities, and that every person with autism is a unique individual with a range of skills, qualities and capacity.

Characteristics that people with autism share

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, will all have unique lived experiences.

Nevertheless, they are likely to share some characteristics and behaviours, many of which can be widely regarded as positive or beneficial qualities in a work environment. These can include: the ability to maintain focus on tasks with attention to detail; logical thinking; considering issues from a unique perspective; and being able to spot and identify patterns and irregularities.

These and other qualities can enable people with autism, when they are given the appropriate opportunities, to be successful in the workplace and develop meaningful careers.

How do I know if I am on the spectrum?

There are some common characteristics and behaviours that might indicate that a person is on the autism spectrum. In broad terms, these will usually involve difficulties in social communication and interaction, combined with repetitive or restricted behaviours, interests or activities.

If you think that you might be autistic, or you think a family member or friend may have Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be very helpful to have a formal assessment or diagnosis.

This is because people with autism who have not been formally diagnosed can feel isolated, confused and frustrated without knowing why.

However, an assessment can bring with it a number of benefits, such as: a greater understanding of yourself and your behaviours; enhanced self-confidence and self-worth; and access to support and help that can enhance your employment opportunities.

How can South Australian businesses be more inclusive of people with autism?

One of the key functions of the Autism Works program is to provide businesses and organisations with support and resources that demonstrate how to make a workplace more inclusive, and the benefits that can be derived from taking on people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Key takeaways from the program for employers include: employing autistic people can positively impact of your business, organisation or workplace; and implementing strategies at every stage of the employment process can be relatively quick, straightforward and inexpensive.

At EmployCare we advise businesses of all sizes in the ways in which you can make your recruiting, induction and workplace processes more inclusive for people with autism.

What are the benefits to my business of employing a person with autism? 

People on the autism spectrum will generally have a strong work ethic, turn up to work regularly and on time, and can be highly productive in the workplace.

There are also a range of other less immediately tangible benefits derived from having autistic people on your team. For instance, they can bring new ways of working and creative problem solving to the table, as well as a range of different skillsets. Workplace culture can also be enhanced through a proactive approach to inclusivity.

How can my business remove barriers in the way of autistic people?

There are a number of barriers that make the recruitment and induction process more challenging for people on the spectrum, or can mean that they are not able to respond with confidence or assurance to the demands of the workplace.

For any South Australian business looking to be more inclusive, the Autism Works program identifies four areas in which organisations can make adjustments to make the process of seeking and successfully obtaining work more suited to the needs of people with autism.

Recruitment process

The way in which recruitment is commonly carried out can be a barrier that prevents people with autism from applying for jobs for which they would otherwise be suitable.

However, the way is which job advertisements are created and written, and where they are posted, can increase their accessibility for autistic people.

Making adjustments to the application process (e.g., granting time extensions, accepting applications in a variety of formats) can also encourage people with autism to apply.

Interview process

If you are considering interviewing a person on the spectrum for a role, and you want to give them the best possible opportunity to demonstrate their capacity, then it might be worth considering alternatives to the conventional in-person interview.

For instance, you could consider holding an interview in a more informal setting rather than in the office. or using video conferencing might be helpful. Alternatively, you could consider accepting a portfolio of projects, or conducting a workplace trial, in lieu of a formal job interview.

Induction process

If you have taken the very positive step to hire an autistic person, it is important to give them the best possible chance of succeeding in the role. The first step is to design an induction process that provides a new autistic employee with a clear undertaking of the expectations of the role, including any requirements for productivity.

At the same time, you should also ensure that you as an employer understand an autistic individual’s preferred style of working, and take into account their specific strengths and needs. Once these have been established, regular checkins are also important.

Workplace adjustments

People with autism will likely require some workplace adjustments to be made. These can be physical or sensory, but are also just as likely to be related to communication and processes.

As discussed above, the lived experience of no two people with autism is going to be the same, so when it comes to workplace adjustments it is essential that these are designed and implemented in response to each individual employee’s specific needs.

Creating an inclusive workplace in this way will help to promote participation, and enable an autistic employee to carry out their role more effectively.

I am on the autism spectrum — how can EmployCare support me to apply for a job or prepare for an interview?

Autism Works is a positive step towards making South Australian workplaces more inclusive for people with autism. It has been designed to ensure businesses and organisations are better informed about a) the benefits of hiring employees with autism, and b) how to make the recruitment process and the workplace more inclusive.

At EmployCare, we share this commitment to inclusivity. This is why we have created two specialist programs for people on the spectrum, in order that they are well prepared when applying for jobs, able to showcase their capabilities during the interview process, and are equipped to navigate the workplace induction process.

Career Counselling

Our qualified career development practitioners offer personalised 1:1 career counselling sessions, which can be held either in person or via video conferencing, depending on your needs and preferences.

Career Development

Our online career development training is personalised in line with each individual’s specific needs.

To find out more about our programs, call EmployCare on 0437 701 016, visit our social media platforms, or email us directly.

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