An autistic employee (pronouns they/them) had been working as a claims adjuster for an insurance company for nearly 8 years. They were initially reluctant to disclose their diagnosis of ADHD and their upcoming assessment for autism. However, recently they repeatedly had to take time off work due to stress. They felt that by being transparent about their diagnosis and upcoming autism assessment, they could justify their absences and arrange for reasonable adjustments to be put in place.
The benefits of disclosure
Following disclosure of the ADHD diagnosis and the referral for an autism assessment, the company was able to make adjustments for the employee. They were able to continue with their job in a way which worked for both the employee and the employer.
Adjustments and support included:
- Offering an internal job change to a less stressful job
- Liaising with disability support services within the company
- A phased return to work over a 5 month period
- Offering a part-time contract
- Taking time to find an appropriate workload for the employee
- Collaboratively designing a workspace suitable for the employee
- Acknowledgement from the employer that further adjustments may be required
By liaising with supervisors, the company’s disability representatives drew up an adjustment plan to create a workspace suitable for the employee.
The new workspace consisted of a quiet, low stimulus work environment, the ability to work without interruptions and the choice to work from home to reduce the stresses of travelling to work as experienced by the employee.
Due to the adjustments made, stress-levels and absence from work reduced significantly. This in turn benefitted both the employee and the employer.
Tips for current students and graduates
- Know your needs and preferences so that you can advocate effectively for yourself.
- Being transparent can be the best way of gaining understanding from your employers.
- Being transparent can preserve your employer’s willingness to support you. They will value your openness and transparency, and this can help build trust.
Tips to share with employers
- Employees and employers alike benefit from sitting down together, openly and transparently at an early stage to look for ways to achieve disability friendly job integration for autistic employees.
- The effort required to make adjustments often requires less effort and is lower in cost than both employees and employers might expect.
- Encourage and facilitate the disclosure of a disability. Provide a clear pathway and reassure employees that there are no negative consequences.
- By intervening early and planning collaboratively, a solution that meets the interests of both employees and employers can be achieved in a short time.
- Provide autistic employees with support at an early stage and communicate what support is available.
- Value the work that your employees do.