On Sunday, November 8, the Guy Talk panel at Autism Brainstorm talked about the enormous potential of people with autism and other disabilities. Many have significant visual, technical, or academic skills. Recognizing their talents, rather than focusing on their weaknesses, is essential to creating an inclusive society. Check out the recording of our converation when you have time.
Autism and related developmental disabilities are a global issue. On April 2, 2015, United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon launched an employment “Call to Action” and invited businesses around the world to make concrete commitments to employ people on the autism spectrum. He encouraged public offices, corporations, and small businesses to look closer look at how they perceive people with autism, to learn about the condition, and to create life-changing opportunities.
Neurodiversity is a hot issue. As Steve Silberman describes it in its fabulous new book, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, “neurodiversity: the notion that conditions like autism, dyslexia, and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be regarded as naturally occurring cognitive variations with distinctive strengths that have contributed to the evolution of technology and culture rather than mere checklists of deficits and dysfunctions.” (p.16)
In the Philadelphia area, Drs. Stephen Shore and Robert Naseef were the lead trainers for an exciting pre-employment training project for young adults with autism for high tech jobs—“Soft Skills for the Workplace.” This intensive 5 day program was the fruit of collaboration between a non-profit (Arc), private industry (SAP), the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, Specialisterne, and Montgomery County Community College. More recently, they presented a training for SAP managers entitled “Managing the Neurodiverse Workplace.
It is estimated that more than 80% of adults with disabilities are unemployed. Research suggests that employers are missing out on abilities that those with autism have such as, heightened abilities in pattern recognition and logical reasoning, as well as a greater attention to detail. The barriers that need to be overcome to unleash this potential include: a shortage of soft skills training, inadequate support with job placement, and discrimination.
Check out our enthusiastic conversation recorded via Google Hangout and archived on YouTube.