What is Asperger’s syndrome?
Asperger’s syndrome (AS) is one of a group of neurological disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Asperger’s syndrome is considered to be on the mild end of the spectrum.
People with AS exhibit four primary symptoms: having difficulty with social interaction, engaging in repetitive behavior, standing firm on what they think, and focusing on rules and routines.
Some people with ASDs are classified as high-functioning.
High-functioning autism means that these individuals don’t have delayed language skills and cognitive development, which is typical of many people with ASDs. Often, individuals diagnosed with AS have average or above-average intelligence.
In addition, people with this condition are frequently able to be educated in mainstream classrooms and hold jobs. Asperger’s syndrome cannot be cured.
Early diagnosis and intervention can help a child make social connections, achieve their potential, and lead productive lives.
Why do directors and team leaders need to know about Asperger’s and autism?
1 in 100 people in the UK with autism, with Asperger being the least that affects people visibly but is still a condition.
There are over 700,000 autistic people in the UK. Jane Harris, director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society, explains that “many with autism still face stigma with regards to the condition”.
Also, a report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2015 found that 37.2 million people in the UK have Asperger’s syndrome.
For directors and teams, leaders must be aware of autism, Asperger’s, and other invisible disabilities and learning difficulties for several professional and personal reasons.
Maybe as you are reading this blog, you will start to connect the dots either to yourself or to a team member, and we will realize the importance of tackling invisible disabilities in the workplace. (For more information, please view).
Companies are hiring people with Asperger’s.
People with Asperger’s require a different interview format than the traditional sink or swim method of a phone call and face-to-face interviews.
Therefore, companies like Microsoft introduce new interview methods for people with Asperger’s because people on the autism spectrum far better understand how things work than people.
For instance, people in Silicon Valley in the United States who work in the tech industry tend to have children on the artistic spectrum.
Directors, managers, and the higher echelons of company organizations may notice that their tech staff lack interpersonal skills compared to your sales teams.
This shows that different people from different work sectors have other specialties. Directors and team leaders need to understand the needs and requirements of people on the autistic spectrum.
Microsoft hires people on the autistic spectrum.
The Microsoft Autism Hiring Program launched in April 2015 intending to hire people with autism for full-time positions.
The company partnered with PROVAIL and Specialisterne, two firms that assist with job training and support for people with an autism spectrum disorder.
The immediate response to the announcement was overwhelming. Microsoft received thousands of emails, over 700 resumes, countless phone calls, and simple messages of thanks for creating such an initiative.
Nearly a year later, they’ve hired 11 new people full-time and have extended the program to the United Kingdom, where they’ll be seeking to make 10 new hires.
A new interview process that can be used by team leaders and directors when hiring new staff on the artistic spectrum.
The program has a unique interview process: Microsoft views it as more of an interview “academy instead of a sink-or-swim phone or in-person interview.”
Which is designed like a workshop for people on the artistic spectrum to demonstrate their skills. This method could also be adapted instead of using the standard interview process.
Case study Kyle Schwaneke
Kyle Schwaneke, a software developer with Asperger’s syndrome, was one of Microsoft’s first hires in the program.
He had a good work history as a developer and programmer but was unemployed for over a year when the indie game studio he’d been working for closed.
In the interview academy, Schwaneke worked on programming initiatives and spent time doing presentations in front of hiring managers.
One-on-one interviews only happened at the end—and once hired, Schwaneke continued to receive support.
He had a mentor inside the company and kept in regular communication with a contact at PROVAIL. “For people on the spectrum who want to get a job, the best thing they can do is practice one-on-one talking exercises,” said Schwaneke.
“Trying to feel comfortable when talking to another person is definitely a plus. Be able to look someone in the eyes, be able to explain yourself properly, and be enthusiastic.”