It was only recently that I came to the realisation that I was autistic which, in conjunction with starting my first proper job, lead to a lot of confusion. I was worried that it would hinder me in some way because I didn’t really understand myself; nor did I understand the working community. It felt like I had been thrown into the deep end without an ability to swim as I splashed around to try and stay afloat.
After scraping through 20 years of my life thinking I was neurotypical, I wasn’t sure of my own identity anymore. Invalidity was hanging over me, as I felt I didn’t fit with the neurotypicals at work, nor did I fit with the neurodiverse who had known themselves for years.
To increase my lack of self-esteem, I did some research into the benefits of autism in the workplace. Unlike my originally narrowminded view, autism has its benefits. It comes with its own strengths which I will list below. Of course, this isn’t a complete list and everyone’s experiences with autism differ, but this is what I came to discover. It’s important for people to recognise these traits, especially employers, when only 15% of adults with autism are in full time employment.
People with autism are likely to make to do lists (and stick by them!) We are also likely to follow routines and schedules which can be helpful for time management, allowing us to complete tasks efficiently.
I don’t know about you, but I can hyper-focus on tasks. That means I can put my head down and complete something in one sitting. I never leave tasks half-finished and I’m good at getting ideas down on the page. This is good for brainstorming and making a start to a daunting task.
You can trust autistic individuals to get work done, whilst being punctual and honest. I hate being late, which isn’t uncommon in neurodiverse people. It’s not a bad thing either, because we are always prepared to meet deadlines.
Attention to Detail
If a job involves proof reading, you can bet an autistic person could ace it. We are great at noticing small mistakes that may blend into the page for others.
Never give up. Even when things feel difficult and next to impossible, you have to persist. People with autism are good at persisting and getting things done, regardless of how much they struggle. In a study by Vincent (2020), they found that both persistence and organisation were a common positive that autistic individuals identified about themselves, even if they had poor experiences in the past with employability. It shows that problems encountered in the workplace can be down to a lack of knowledge about neurodiversity and not down to the dysfunction of the individual. It is important to open up to your employer so you can get support and thrive in your working environment.
As mentioned previously, this isn’t an exclusive list and there are many (many) other positive traits. These also may not apply to everyone but are the ones that I resonate with most.