Making space for Autism in the workplace.

There is a great deal of conversation going on about how it is encumbent upon NeuroTypicals to make space in the workplace for non-NeuroTypical people.  It is starting to look like those making the noise require and expect other people to make space and lots of allowances for their child who will become an adult.  I agree partially with the sentiment, heartfelt as it is, but also partially disagree.  I agree that people on the Autism Spectrum have a lot to offer society.  They’re frequently bright, insightful, funny, lovely and an asset to an organisation.  However, they also take a lot of energy, time, allowances, interpretation and worry to those around them.  I work in an industry blessed with many people who if they were interviewed as a kid nowadays would likely be identified as being on the spectrum.  They are great folks.  They can also be very draining.  Their skill sets are valuable.  They’re also inflexible and resistant to the ebb and flow of industry life.  It takes a long time to get them on-board with the current focus and sometimes they just refuse which requires others to make up for the distinct lack of pull.  I am sure that the office environment is both beneficial and detrimental to my associates just as it is to me.  They find it tiring dealing with people who cannot naturally grasp the abstract concept or who just don’t worry about the nitpicky detail.  I have seen that my associates find it tiring just dealing with people.  We make accommodations, we chat ahead of meetings and we chat after meetings and we make lots of time available to revisiting the minute details that are important to them on a very generalised basis.  We like them, we’re all in it together, they’re definitely great at their work, they’re capable of so much and are a social and productive asset just the same as their colleagues who are NT.  It can be tiring for NT’s to keep reviewing things.  Yet the people I am speaking about are only what my family would be referring to as “Blessed with a tinge” of spectrum life.  Like a drop or two of red paint in a pot of white.  They have little difficulty with communication.  Their communication is frequently on a tangent or abrupt or sometimes borderline less than completely appropriate for the situation but there is no difficulty in expressing ideas.  I am in a quandary.  I see the benefit they are to the company just as all the rest of their colleagues are a benefit too.  They hold their own.  They are quirky but can interact.  My concern with the full-inclusion push (and I reserve the right to change my mind – this opinion, and that’s all it is, an opinion – is valid only for 5 minutes from publication) is that the deeper in to the spectrum one travels, the more difficulty there is in expressing thoughts and ideas in a manner which can be quickly incorporated in the Corporate World.  The more difficulty there is in training in tasks, in resolving concerns that arise as a matter of course and normal life.  It’s a very walking on eggshells situation.  I don’t yet see a solution, only a desire to have people live to their fullest potential (which is immense)… I don’t see how corporate life and people who cannot pass for Neurotypical are going to blend in the future.  If you have ideas or constructive comments, please share.


Author: Pollyanna Whyte

Single LDS Mormon Mum/Mom living in England. This is my blog on emotional health, fun, parenting, life, divorce, starting over, friends, family, church things, and budgeting. Stop by, tell us what you think, feel free to share (but credit the source please).

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