Autism, Mental Health and Recruitment


Autism, Mental Health and Recruitment

A person on the autism spectrum or with a mental health disability makes a great employee. 

Last week I fell upon a new app, developed by an 18-year-old who happens to be on the autism spectrum. He clearly understands the challenges faced by not only people with autism but those that are challenged with their mental health and burn out. 

Originally creating the app to manage his own needs, Ethan Shallcross developed Aumi and has found his innovation can help many others manage their anxiety, monitor their mental health and reduce burnout.  I love it, especially as I know I am prone to burn out. You know that difficult thing of knowing when to say no to others to give yourself the space for ‘me time’ – that’s me.

Communities are rich with skilled people who just happen to have a disability.

People with a disability are still people with great skills and so much to offer. I can’t understand why there’s still discrimination by some employers and employees. I guess there is an element of ignorance or just the employer is too busy to consider. 

If we undertook a confidential survey in every business in Australia, large, medium or small, we would discover there is many with a disability. Around 3 million Australians currently have a mental health issue, and depression or anxiety will affect 1 in 5 men and 1 in 3 women at some point in their life. 

Adults on the autism spectrum are three times more likely to be unemployed, and people with a disability are almost six times the rate of the unemployment rate of people without a disability according to Autism Awareness Australia.

Simple tips for recruitment.

Some people do not perform well in a face to face interview, and this is more so if a person is on the autism spectrum or they have a disability. A typical interview is usually weighted on communication; however, people with autism have difficulty communicating, and this places them at a disadvantage in interview settings.

How can you recruit to be inclusive of autism and mental health?

  1. Be clear on the skills you require for the position
  2. Have the applicants complete a simulated work assessment with very clear instructions
  3. An on-site practical work experience half or full day

This enables you to assess the person on the job, how they fit not how well they communicate in an interview. By avoiding interview anxiety, you will get a better picture of what the real skills they bring to the table. 

Simple tips for workplace adaptation.

  1. You may find the new hire has great skills in most areas but lacks in some others. Why not re-define the role. Allocate what they don’t have to someone else.
  2. Have very clear instructions and direction which is consistent
  3. Provide training to colleagues on how to communicate 
  4. Educate yourself then spread your awareness of mental health to others
  5. Promote workplace wellbeing
  6. Be inclusive

Benefits for an employer.

  1. A positive and diverse workplace culture
  2. An untapped pool of people who are neurodiverse
  3. People who have exceptional attention to detail are highly diligent with a low tolerance for mistakes with superior pattern recognition

I’ve always been an advocate for recruiting people with a disability. To not include anyone in the mix just because they do not fit the defined box is so wrong. Maybe it’s just ignorance.

Finding this app just may provide an opportunity to a person on the autism spectrum or someone struggling with their mental health to look at how they can manage themselves better in the work environment. 

I wonder if my stepson had access to this app, would he be alive today?

I’m hoping my article will challenge employers and recruiters to think differently when looking for a new team member including considering employing people with autism or a mental health disability.

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