Mental health in job seekers on the autism spectrum

Friday, 23 March 2018

Entering the workforce or starting a new job can be a stressful time. Many of us feel vulnerable as we navigate a new workplace. This can be particularly true for people on the autism spectrum, who may require extra support as they enter a new job.

Here’s how employers and teams can support the mental health of colleagues on the autism spectrum.

Exercise empathy

Empathy, understanding, and patience are critical to supporting a person on the autism spectrum. This is particularly important when starting a new role. By taking the time to understand a person’s needs, you are helping build your colleague’s confidence and competence in their role. That can make a positive difference to a person’s mental health.

Understand autism traits

While no two people on the autism spectrum are the same, many share common characteristics. Common traits include:

  • Difficulty understanding and interpreting body language or emotional cues.
  • A tendency to take statements literally.
  • Sensitivity to loud noises, bright lights, and crowds.
  • Challenges in dealing with changes to routine or unexpected occurrences.

Understanding these characteristics can help employers to improve how they support people on the autism spectrum.

Consider reasonable adjustments

Small adjustments to a work task can help a person with autism to perform at their best. Similarly, minor changes to a work environment can reduce sensory overload and allow a person with autism to feel more comfortable.

EPIC Assist works with businesses to adapt recruitment processes, interviews, and job roles to make the partnership a success for both employer and employee.

Create a culture of support

Having a strong support network is essential for people on the autism spectrum. We all have a role to play in creating a culture of support around mental health in the workplace, which benefits all employees, including those on the autism spectrum.

1 in 5 of EPIC’s job seekers are on the autism spectrum. We provide personalised employment services – including mental health support – to help our job seekers find and maintain meaningful employment.