Page 1 of 1 [ 2 posts ] 

ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 29,131
Location: Long Island, New York

06 Aug 2022, 9:08 am

The autism advantage - why businesses are hiring autistic people - Sydney Morning Herald

Quote:
When Chris Varney was in Year 2 he presented his teacher with an incredibly detailed visual chart of the royal families of Europe from the 14th to the 19th century.

“I just felt I had found a new way of seeing the last millennium. No wonder we have so many revolutions and conflict, these families were way too connected, small community, completely out of touch,” he quips during his TED talk Autism: How my unstoppable mother proved the experts wrong.

His teacher said: “Oh goodness, Chris, doesn’t this chart look interesting. But darling, our assignment is on winter.” Seven-year-old Varney thought: “I’ve just done a PhD on the whole last millennium. And you want me to draw clouds and rain?”

Today Varney believes it is these skills that often come with autism – thinking outside the box, intense focus, dogged persistence and attention to detail – that have helped him throughout his career.

He studied law (“I only thrived at the end when I followed my own learning style and recreated my law exam notes into Harry Potter spells and Lord of the Rings lands”), was the 2009 Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations and worked for 11 years at World Vision, managing a team of six.

Then, at the age of 26, he established the largest autistic-led organisation in the country.

Now in its ninth year, the I CAN Network, which mentors autistic young people, employs 99 people Australia-wide, 74 of whom are proudly autistic.

Varney believes there is a need for a positive rethink of autism, a neurological developmental disability that affects how a person thinks, feels, interacts with others, and experiences their environment

Autism is known as a spectrum disorder because every autistic person is different, with unique strengths and challenges.

Varney says many autistic people experienced education as a system that focused on these challenges, which can include social difficulties and anxiety.

He is pleased this is changing, with recent reforms embracing autistic students’ strengths.

But the unemployment rate of autistic people remains disturbingly high. ABS data from 2018 shows 34.1 per cent of autistic people are unemployed – three times higher than that of people with any type of disability and almost eight times that of those without a disability.

“A lot of the time people hear that someone’s autistic and they assume incompetence,” says Varney, who was this week appointed the chair of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council.

“But we have unique strengths, specifically hyper focus, great creativity, and we can think outside the box, which is a great asset in workplaces“.

Chris Pedron is a junior data analyst at Australian Spatial Analytics, a social enterprise that says on its website “neurodiversity is our advantage – our team is simply faster and more precise at data processing”.

He was hired after an informal chat. (Australian Spatial Analytics also often provides interview questions 48 hours in advance.)

Pedron says the traditional recruitment process can work against autistic people because there are a lot of unwritten social cues, such as body language, which he doesn’t always pick up on.

“If I’m going in and I’m acting a bit physically standoffish, I’ve got my arms crossed or something, it’s not that I’m not wanting to be there, it’s just that new social interaction is something that causes anxiety.”

Pedron also finds eye contact uncomfortable and has had to train himself over the years to concentrate on a point on someone’s face.

Australian Spatial Analytics addresses a skills shortage by delivering a range of data services that were traditionally outsourced offshore.

Projects include digital farm maps for the grazing industry, technical documentation for large infrastructure and map creation for land administration.

Pedron has always found it easy to map things out in his head. “A lot of the work done here at ASA is geospatial so having autistic people with a very visual mindset is very much an advantage for this particular job.”

Pedron listens to music on headphones in the office, which helps him concentrate, and stops him from being distracted. He says the simpler and clearer the instructions, the easier it is for him to understand. “The less I have to read between the lines to understand what is required of me the better.”

Australian Spatial Analytics is one of three jobs-focused social enterprises launched by Queensland charity White Box Enterprises.

It has grown from three to 80 employees in 18 months and – thanks to philanthropist Naomi Milgrom, who has provided office space in Cremorne – has this year expanded to Melbourne, enabling Australian Spatial Analytics to create 50 roles for Victorians by the end of the year.

Chief executive Geoff Smith hopes they are at the front of a wave of employers recognising that hiring autistic people can make good business sense.

“Rather than focus on the deficits of the person, focus on the strengths. A quarter of National Disability Insurance Scheme plans name autism as the primary disability, so society has no choice – there’s going to be such a huge number of people who are young and looking for jobs who are autistic. There is a skills shortage as it is, so you need to look at neurodiverse talent.

Chris Varney is delighted to see neurodiversity programs in some industries but points out that every autistic person has different interests and abilities.

Some are non-verbal, for example, and not all have the stereotypical autism skills that make them excel at data analysis.

“We’ve seen a big recognition that autistic people are an asset to banks and IT firms, but there’s a lot more work to be done,” Varney says.

“We need to see jobs for a diverse range of autistic people.”


_________________
Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


CockneyRebel
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Age: 47
Gender: Male
Posts: 108,172
Location: On a special base where the Christmas soldiers of the world live

06 Aug 2022, 10:21 am

It would be great if Canada would do something like that.


_________________
Oberfeldwebel

Age: 47
Gender: Non-Binary
Pronouns: He/Him/His
IQ: 86 and I use all 86 of them.