Approximately 12.3% of people served/employed at Didlake are on the autism spectrum. They are employees, consumers of employment services, and consumers of our day support/community inclusion programs.
As the number of individuals on the autism spectrum exiting high school continues to grow, the need for the services and employment opportunities Didlake provides will increase. The Didlake Autism Center of Excellence’s vision is to improve employment outcomes for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and increase corporate knowledge and expertise related to supporting adults with ASD in employment or rehabilitation services.
On November 2nd, Didlake held its second annual leadership retreat. The theme of the retreat was “Leading Through Communication.” As Donna Hollis, our Acting CEO stated in her opening remarks, “communication is the foundation of all relationships.” The day was filled with coworkers engaging in fellowship and presenters discussing communication and leadership. I was honored to have the opportunity to get our day started by talking about autism at work. The presentation included an overview of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), information about learning styles, communication, strengths of autism, and tips and strategies for working with and interacting with people on the spectrum.
The way we receive, process, and understand information plays a role in how we communicate and interact with one another. No matter what one’s strengths, challenges, or abilities are there are ways we can help support them. Here are some tips and strategies:
- Speak clearly and plainly
- Offer clear choices (two or three) if opened ended questions are challenging
- Give ample time to process information
- Be patient, give time and do not rush
- Provide visual supports when needed
- Be prepared to repeat or rephrase complex information
- Get to know who they are and what they like/dislike
- Focus on strengths
This is not an exhaustive list and does not just apply to individuals on the autism spectrum or in the workplace. These strategies can apply to anyone who has communication support needs across any setting. The knowledge and experience we gain and put into practice can help create a greater impact in our communities.
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