Unlike most neurotypicals, individuals diagnosed with autism prefer being independent instead of conforming to social norms. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t want to be productive members of society. Many autistic people brilliant and have a lot to offer potential employers. The trouble is that applying for a job can overwhelm someone on the spectrum. The good news is that adjustments can ease anxiety and make the process more manageable.
Give them a heads up
Ask any trained psychologist, and they’ll tell you that people with autism tend to do better when they know what to expect. They don’t like surprises, and they like to be prepared. So, giving them a heads-up regarding the job application process is a brilliant idea. Tell them what the process will entail and what you expect from them. This way, they can go into the process with a clear understanding of what’s expected of them and are less likely to be overwhelmed.
Break it down into smaller steps
The job application process can be overwhelming for anyone, but for someone with autism, it can be downright paralyzing. And that’s because most individuals on the lower end of the spectrum face sensory overload when faced with too many stimuli. So, it’s helpful to break down the process into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, rather than asking them to complete the entire application in one sitting, ask them to do one section at a time. For example, they can fill out the contact information section today and the education section tomorrow. Whichever way you break it down, ensure the steps are small enough for them to handle.
If you’ve ever completed a job application, you know they can be long and detailed. Imagine having to fill one out when you have difficulty processing information and language. It’s not easy. So, employers need to be patient with individuals with autism when going through the job application process. Remember, it takes them longer to complete the application because they must process the information more thoroughly. So, rather than rushing them or getting frustrated, employers can be patient and let applicants take their time.
Don’t require a firm handshake
Yes, a firm handshake is considered a social norm, and it’s often seen as a sign of respect. However, for people with autism, the act of shaking someone’s hand can be extremely uncomfortable. That’s because they often have difficulty understanding and interpreting nonverbal cues, such as touch, and they might have a sensory processing disorder which can make shaking someone’s hand quite overwhelming. So, rather than requiring a firm handshake, let the applicant decide if they want to shake your hand or not. Alternatively, you can say hello and offer them a smile.
Use clear and concise language
Clear and concise language can eliminate confusion for people with autism. That’s because they often have difficulty understanding and processing language. So, when you’re communicating with them, whether in person or writing, make sure to use clear and concise language. For example, rather than saying, “I’m going to need you to fill out this application,” say, “Please fill out this application.” This might seem negligible, but it can make a big difference for someone with autism.
With these five tips in mind, employers can make the job application process less overwhelming for individuals with autism. Doing so can show support for neurodiversity, and they might just find their perfect candidate.