Autistic workers in Wales face daily discrimination. They are being denied opportunities because their employers are ignorant about their condition.
That ignorance is making workers’ lives needlessly miserable. And in many cases it’s forcing people out of employment all together.
This Welsh Government's recent announcement of an ext ra £3m per year for autism services in Wales is a welcome boost at a time when there has been an unprecedented increase in demand for diagnosis and support.
But improving the lives of the 30,000 autistic people in Wales is not just about making much-needed improvements to autism services. It’s also about opening-up all the other experiences and opportunities that many people take for granted.
According to analysis by the National Autistic Society , only 16% of autistic people are in full time work. A further 16% are in part-time work. The chart below puts in context just how low those figures are.
It’s depressing yet unsurprising that only 10% of autistic people say that they get the support they need at work.
How can workplaces support autistic workers?
First, employers should educate themselves on what autism is and what it means for their employees. It’s particularly important that management and HR staff receive autism awareness training – because ultimately they are the ones who will be making the decisions that impact on autistic workers’ lives.
Second, employers should sit down with unions and develop an autism policy that is tailored to their workplace. Employers should look at questions like:
Simple changes on issues like these can make a big difference.
The shift to autism-friendly workplaces is long overdue – and it’s one that unions should be leading.