auticon’s consultants and clients are supported by our job coaches who ensure that the consultants’ work environments enable them to deliver to their full professional potential. Our talented job coaches promote inclusion and wellbeing and are integral to making sure our consultants feel supported in their assignments. Most importantly they provide clients with support and information regarding autism in the workplace and can convey feedback between the client and the consultant.
There is still much work to do in providing equality to our autistic colleagues in the workplace. The traditional job interview remains a barrier for neurodivergent people, and once hired, few are comfortable disclosing their autism and asking their employer for support. As a result, many will painfully mask their autistic behaviors to fit in at work.
The following results from our annual Impact Report show that our consultants are succeeding at work, and in life, due in part to our amazing job coaching teams:
Alex joined auticon in 2022 after a long career based in both the public and private sectors focusing on improving career outcomes for autistic adults. With personal connections to autism, he desires to improve societal awareness and accessibility for the autistic community. This drew him to Auticon’s social mission and positive strength-based approach where Alex is keen to apply his experience to empower Auticon’s consultants to thrive within their careers.
“I work within the UK job coaching team to develop best working practices to effectively support our autistic consultants. Alongside this, my passion for positive societal outcomes lends itself to working with clients to aid valuable recognition of our consultant’s skills and how this can translate into an effective corporate model. I see the job coach role as a pivotal position fostering desired business outcomes for our clients and ensuring the workplace is accessible for all.”
What is a typical day like when supporting our autistic consultants?
Every day is different, but my day starts with checking to see if any of my consultants need to discuss a problem. This can sometimes lead to following up with a consultant, a client or both. Alongside that, I will have a few regular coaching sessions each day; looking at how their project is going, checking in on their well-being and working together to identify solutions to any problems they face. I will also meet with a client and get feedback relating to the project. This helps the client’s overall understanding to improve their work with one of our consultants. Having this regular contact with our consultants is a big driver in my motivation for the work and I very much enjoy hearing about their experiences and sharing their successes.
What “autism masking” behaviour can employers be aware of and how can they respond?
It is useful to be aware that it can take a lot of effort to ‘fit in’ socially and often behaviours can be suppressed. Things that might highlight masking include standardised conversations – often as part of masking an autistic person will spend time in advance identifying phrases or a script to use in a social setting. You might pick up on someone seeming withdrawn or hesitant to share information about themselves. The best way to respond to someone’s masking is to learn more about autistic masking and talk to autistic people about their experiences. Always remember that autistic people are the experts in their experience. As an employer lean into that and access their knowledge and expertise.
What advice do you give autistic workers experiencing stress and anxiety from daily events?
It is important to acknowledge your feelings. Share your experience with someone – be that a coach or another trusted person. Try to recognise the causes and see if there are some solutions to be found – perhaps the environment is affecting sensory sensitivities, or perhaps tasks need to be broken down to feel more achievable. Alongside this be aware of your self-care – this might be having a regular movement break, practicing meditation or spending time with a recharge activity. Consider structuring some of these self-care activities into your regular week will help you stay on top of daily stress and anxiety.
What do you think employers get very wrong about supporting autistic employees?
Employers can at times have the best intentions but get things wrong by overlooking the individual. Putting that employee on the spot without giving time to process and prepare in advance or expecting them to transition between tasks or teams quickly has a negative impact on the ability to work effectively. This is generally reflected in the support that does not include the autistic employee’s voice within it – embedding adjustments always requires consultation with the person it affects. Raising awareness of individual differences and asking for guidance where needed are great ways to address these blockers.
What do employers need to know about performing job interviews with neurodivergent people?
Interviews can be viewed as tests of social skills. This is generally not accessible to a neurodivergent person. Instead, look at practical tasks, the opportunity to demonstrate ability rather than talk about it is valuable. Where you are having Q&As or discussions remove the mystery of it – be specific about the language you use and explain what element of the role it relates to. Build in extra processing time for any responses and normalise the use of making notes within any interview. Employers should be clear about what a candidate should expect from the process with pictures of interviewers/location, clear timelines of what will happen (and when) and details of any questions that will be asked provided in advance.