Addressing concerns

If you have any concerns about your autistic staff, approach them respectfully and compassionately, as you would any employee. Privately invite them to discuss the problem.

My employers have told me I can always approach them if I have any autism-related issues

Kevin – autistic employee

Legally, you must treat your autistic employees as well as anyone else, but there are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Stress and anxiety – Autistic people function really well when allowed to work in a way that suits their needs. Stress may not be evident in the person’s face but may show in the way they act with others. Sometimes, the concerns that you have about an autistic employee may be caused by stress and anxiety resulting from the environment. These issues may be resolved by making reasonable adjustments. It is helpful to provide a place where all staff can retreat without disruption to allow them to relax. Every person will be different, so talk to each member of staff to ask how they want to handle stressful situations.

 

  • Dealing with situations swiftly and tactfully – When there is a misunderstanding, relationships can break down quickly. Always deal with a concern quickly, before they are irreparable.

 

  • Looking out for bullying – It is possible for bullying to inadvertently exist in your workplace, especially if there is a lack of understanding about autism. An autistic employee may feel bullied even if the person bullying them is unaware that their behaviour is being perceived in this way. Increasing the level of understanding about autism amongst all staff will help create understanding. There are legal ramifications to bullying so it’s important to resolve it immediately.

 

  • Difficulty with communication – As autism is an invisible condition, colleagues may think the individual is being rude, unfriendly, insensitive or not listening when this is rarely the intention. Conversely, vague or nonliteral communication can sometimes be difficult for an autistic person to understand. As a manager, it will be your responsibility to clarify and mitigate miscommunication regardless of the parties involved. Again, informing all staff about autism will help to reduce misunderstandings.

 

  • Workplace transitions and scheduling