In conversation with Auticon founder Dirk Mueller-Remus, we were able to uncover examples of good support practice for autistic students and graduates. Auticon promotes a neurodiverse workplace, employing specifically autistic adults for a range of IT based roles. After having worked with several large IT companies, Auticon has shown what a neurodiverse workforce can offer companies.
Auticon provides a neurodiverse and agile workforce, utilising the cognitive strengths many autistic people possess to deliver high quality and flawless software development. Auticon recruits, trains and employs autistic adults for lifelong careers in technology, with employees specialising in software development, data analysis, quality assurance and testing, automation, engineering and much more.
How does Auticon support employers?
Auticon offers a range of supports to the companies employing autistic employees, including:
- Training in autism awareness for employers.
- An explanation of the benefits of hiring autistic employees (i.e. the strengths the employees may possess).
- A two-part buddy system within the organisations they work with, offering autistic employees a buddy for both social and organisational aspects of work, and a buddy for technical aspects of work (though the social buddies should develop organically, not be assigned by the organisation).
- Develop contingency plans for employers, in case of emergency situations.
- An emergency hotline to speak to Auticon job coaches.
- Guides for creating an autism-friendly workplace.
As a result, employers had an increased understanding and confidence in working with autistic adults, with an overall positive shift in perceptions of a neurodiverse work team.
How does Auticon support autistic employees?
Working at Auticon improved autistic employees’ self confidence, personal wellbeing and autonomy, as well as their skills and abilities, and their understanding of these.
Working with job coaches helped with the transition into a new workplace and offered support with workplace concerns including communication and interaction, workplace adjustments, personal development and stress management.
Tips for current students and graduates
- Explicitly identify personal strengths and challenges you may face. Emphasise the strengths and detail how the challenges are manageable.
- Be transparent about your diagnosis and how it affects you.
Tips to share with employers
- Autistic employees may be well suited to jobs in; quality assurance, data analysis, tasks which are not urgent (to remove the pressure of deadlines – think about tasks which are ongoing).
- Look into any possible government funding or grants which you may be eligible for if you are recruiting a diverse workforce.
- Consider employing job coaches for helping autistic employees integrate into the workplace and helping them understand workplace etiquette.
- Educate co-workers to raise autism awareness.
- Create a safe work-environment where autistic employees feel safe enough to share their diagnosis, including areas of strength and areas which they may find more challenging.
- Provide detailed documentation of tasks and put the task into context. By adding context, autistic employees will better understand why they are doing the task, and this can help them play to their strengths.
- Inform yourselves about autism. Access training opportunities offered by national or regional autism organisations (see the resources section of the Good Practice Guide for Employers).
- Consider implementing a buddy-system within the organisation.
- Consider developing contingency plans for emergency situations.