Helping Adult Autistic Individuals Leap Over the ‘Services Cliff’—Part 3
By Kami-Leigh Agard
Business owners! Who is your dream employee? Someone spending more time texting than doing their job? Maybe, a young buck looking at the job as a three-month gig until he lands something better? Or, perhaps a lovely, but “chatty Kathy,” who spends more time chatting up your customers as opposed to actually working? If these are not your ideal employee candidates, there is an amazing group of “different-abled” Rockaway residents you should consider—working-age locals on the autism spectrum. In part three of this four-part column series, citing credible sources, I lay out the case why autistic employees will be an asset, not a liability, on a business’ bottom line.
Though each person with autism is different, (when you’ve met ONE person with autism, you’ve met ONE person with autism)—there are a plethora of strengths associated with autism that will be a godsend to employers. In a 2021 Spectrum News article, clinical psychologist, Kate Cooper, pointed out that “when viewed from a different angle, many so-called negative traits associated with autism can be strengths. It’s more about how individuals apply these traits and in what context.” For example, hyper-focused attention to detail translates to autistic employees making fewer mistakes than their neurotypical counterparts and is one of the desirable traits that make employees on the autism spectrum invaluable team members. This is why preconceived notions about autism should be thrown out.
Next, autistic individuals are known for their impenetrable honesty. Due to the way the autistic brains work, these individuals say exactly what they think. Wouldn’t an employee who doesn’t make excuses, reports to work on time and is completely truthful about their activities be a refreshing addition to any business?
Autistic individuals are also creative problem-solvers. A 2020 study found that “some individuals with ASD are better at creative solutions; ultimately, helping employers think outside the box,” thus— introducing cutting-edge ideas. Also, autistic workers are known to be reliable when it comes to following the rules of professionalism and will unlikely take advantage of an employer’s trust. Autistic workers tend to flourish in a structured environment, where they are expected to follow rules and abide by a routine. This makes them an invaluable resource in a business setting, where workers are expected to perform a set number of tasks.
Another bonus with hiring autistic individuals is it just doesn’t just boost businesses’ internal image, but how they’re viewed from the outside. A 2020 Zeno communications agency study found that when businesses have a strong humanitarian purpose, consumers are four times more likely to trust the company, and six times more likely to defend the company from criticism.
As for autistic worker retention, a 2022 Forbes magazine article, “Five Benefits To Hiring A Neurodiverse Workforce You Might Not Know About,” identifies a major problem business owners face today is the “Great Resignation.” Just in 2021 alone, 38 million people quit their jobs. On the flip side, these employers discovered that autistic employees have a retention rate upward of 90%. Needless to say, lower worker turnover is beneficial because employers don’t have to spend critical time and resources training new workers—hence, avoiding loss of productivity.
Also, businesses who hire autistic individuals can take advantage of federal tax incentives, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Disabled Access Credit and Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction.
To conclude, business owners would be pleasantly surprised to witness the alluring benefits of including an autistic workforce. If you own a local business or can recommend one, please reach out! A 2023 goal of Rockaway Beach Autism Families (RBAF) is to serve as an employment agency for autistic individuals. We’re not only going to provide training, but also an onsite community liaison at each job site, making it a productive and sustaining union for both the employee and employer.
Save the date! On Sunday, April 23, RBAF is hosting Rockaway’s first-ever “Walk for Autism Awareness” on the boardwalk, kicking off at Beach 126th Street! To register (free!), visit: rockawaybeachautismfamilies.org. All welcome to attend. For further info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Rockaway Beach Autism Families on Facebook/Instagram. “Join us in turning the tide for the autism community, one wave at a time.”