This week (1 – 7 April 2019) is World Autism Awareness Week, with Tuesday being declared Autism Awareness Day by the UN.  The UN says it unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day

to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can led full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society“.

In the UK, the National Autistic Society is one of the main charities supporting the drive to raise awareness of this developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and, relates to, other people and the world around them. People with autism may experience the world in a very different way to others and may struggle with every day environmental factors such as noise or crowds.

Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning it affects individuals in different ways and no two individuals are likely to manifest symptoms in exactly the same way. Some autistic people, for example, also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions. The term autism includes Asperger syndrome. People with Asperger syndrome often have above average intelligence.

Our previous article

Over recent years there has been a growing awareness among employers that employing a neurodiverse workforce can have business benefits. Neurodiverse employees includes those on the autism spectrum.  Ben Power at Springhouse has written about the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce, his latest article was published by the Legal Gazette and you can read more on our website.

Legal aspects

Although employment rates for autistic people are sadly, low, any employer who has employees who are on the  autistic spectrum should be aware of their legal obligations. Autistic people are likely to be protected against disability discrimination and an employer will need to put in place reasonable adjustments to help them overcome any disadvantages they may suffer in the workplace due to their condition. Employers should therefore seek to understand how autism may affect individuals in the workplace.

Further information

Personnel Today recently published an article, Neurodiversity: creating a supportive environment which shared best practice for employers on creating an inclusive working environment for neurodiverse employees.

Acas has released new guidance to help organisations understand and better support neurodiversity in the workplace.

 

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