What is autism?

The World Health Organization summarises the different autism spectrum diagnoses under the term neurodevelopmental condition. This means that autism impacts elements of learning, memory, cognition and emotions and is a life-long condition. Autism can be referred to as a hidden condition due to the absence of outwardly visible symptoms and is often only diagnosed later in life.

Whether an autistic person experiences their condition as a disability or not is entirely dependent on the individual. Some self-advocacy and autistic pride movements do not see autistic people as disabled, instead, they see the environment as the limiting factor. For some, aspects of their lived experience of autism, can be disabling and require support and understanding. Regardless, it is important to recognise that all autistic people are entitled to reasonable adjustments.

An autism spectrum diagnosis includes the following criteria:

  • Differences in social interaction and communication
  • Varied and sometimes persistent patterns of behaviour, interests or activities

Are you on the autism spectrum?

The ‘Autism Spectrum Quotient’ was developed by the Autism Research Centre (ARC) at the University of Cambridge. It gives a useful first insight into whether someone may qualify for a formal diagnosis, but please bear in mind that the test itself is by no means diagnostic. Take the test here.

Please visit the ARC website for further information.

The autism spectrum

Autism affects each individual differently, thus we refer to autism as being along a spectrum. Autistic people possess varying capabilities and personalities, therefore we see unique diversity within the autism spectrum. For this reason, auticon takes a person-centric approach: we want to create workplaces that are suitable for people as individuals, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach.

There have been changes to how autism has been defined and diagnosed. Currently, those receiving a diagnosis will be given the diagnostic term autism spectrum condition. This replaces previous diagnostic categories such as Asperger syndrome. Due to these changes, we recognise the complexities surrounding diagnostic terms and accept any term an individual uses to describe their experience of autism.

Despite tangible differences in social communication, interaction and sensory processing, many autistic people have  cognitive strengths which can be applied to the workplace.

Some cognitive strengths tend to be more prevalent in the autism community include:

  • enhanced logical and analytical abilities
  • sustained attention and concentration
  • impartial and honest communication
  • an affinity for attending to detail, spotting errors and enhanced accuracy
  • enhanced retention of information (long-term memory)

Typical workplaces, however, can often produce barriers for autistic people, resulting in unduly high unemployment rates. Some of these workplace challenges include:

  • the sensory environment
  • vague or ambiguous communication
  • small talk, and “connecting” with colleagues and/or the wider team

auticon employs qualified job coaches in order to create work environments that work well for both our consultants and our clients.

auticon job coaches

  • prepare consultants for future workplaces and deliver briefings regarding specific corporate cultures associated with each assignment
  • meet with future client team-members to explain autism and convey any specific requests their new autistic colleague may have
  • offer initial support to consultants with their travelling to and from work
  • facilitate reasonable workplace adjustments
  • mediate feedback between client and consultant
  • offer the individual support that consultants may need in order to be productive at work

Neurodiversity as a competitive advantage

Working with people who think differently has obvious advantages when it comes to innovation and finding solutions to complex tasks and issues. Neurodiversity in teams (i.e. the collaborative effect of working with different cognitive styles) can also have an astonishing effect on a work culture: communication becomes clearer and more efficient, team spirit gains new momentum and employees feel valued for their unique and individual selves.

What do our clients get out of it?

Direct value:

  • Enhanced cognitive skills
  • High level of efficiency
  • Evidence based feedback and reporting
  • Innovative solutions for complex problems

Added value:

  • Improved team work
  • Improved communication
  • Openness and honesty
  • Genuine inclusion and diversity