Inside: While workplace communication for people on the spectrum is an obstacle, improvements are possible. If you’re interested in improving your communication skills, keep reading to find ways that people on the spectrum can master workplace communication.
Entering a new workplace can be difficult, especially for people facing mental disorders. According to Spectrum’s “Now hiring: What autistic people need to succeed in the workplace,” reports show that people with autism are often disconnected from employment more than people with other disabilities.
A report by Drexel University stated, “Each year, about 100,000 autistic children in the United States turn 18, but just 58 percent of them will work for pay at some point before age 25, compared with 74 percent of young adults who have an intellectual disability and nearly 99 percent of all high-school graduates.”
Despite the stigma that people with autism aren’t as capable as their neurotypical counterparts, many have, in fact, excelled at work due to the attention to detail and out-of-the-box thinking that autism provides.
While workplace communication for people on the spectrum remains one of the biggest hurdles, improvements are possible. More companies are investing in people with disabilities by hiring coaches to provide training in jobs and communication. If you’re interested in improving your communication skills, keep reading to find ways that people on the spectrum can master workplace communication.
Improving speech impediments
Speech impediments impact an individual’s ability to speak fluently with a clear tone. Some may have difficulty understanding sounds or forming words, which affects their ability to communicate effectively.
Maryville University’s “Speech Impediment Guide: Definition, Causes, and Resources” notes that people with autism spectrum disorders and similar conditions often struggle with speech impediments. To overcome these difficulties, a person should start by identifying and working on specific areas of improvement, such as stuttering or the pronunciation of a certain syllable.
It’s common for many families to seek help from a professional in speech therapy to determine the best ways to treat a speech disorder. Early treatment is best, but impairments can also be treated later in life.
For at-home treatments, a person can ask a family member to role-play potential workplace scenarios. These newly developed communication skills can then be applied to real-world situations. It’s also a good idea for people on the spectrum to ask their co-workers for support throughout the learning process.
Encouraging visual learning
A majority of people on the spectrum process information better through visual representations. A study led by the University of Washington found that visual stimuli benefited both children and adults on the autism spectrum and allowed them to remember things for longer.
In the workplace, auditory communication can be difficult as there is no way for a person to slow down and process the information at their own pace. However, advancements in digital tools such as online calendars, digital whiteboards, slide presentations, and infographics have helped people turn auditory communication into visualizations.
One way a person can encourage visual learning is to ask their colleagues for visual resources before presentations to help you summarize information beforehand. This will make it easier for a person who prefers to communicate visually to keep up with the pace of the presentation and be prepared with questions. It’s also important to actively pushing for digital tools like calendars for better tracking and time management. By taking up these initiatives, a person on the spectrum can master workplace communication.
disclosing a disability
As shared in “What Companies Should Know About Fostering An Inclusive Culture (And Gaining Profits)”, some employees may be hesitant to share about their disabilities due to fear of losing their jobs, which could lead to greater health and performance risks.
Considering the recent move to work-from-home setups, being honest with employers and asking for alternative arrangements may improve workplace experiences. Depending on circumstances and comfort levels, it may be beneficial to disclose a disability to close staff members.
Final Thoughts on How Can People on the Spectrum Master Workplace Communication?
If communication skills don’t come naturally, don’t worry. Learning how to communicate in the workplace takes time. For some, it may be beneficial to disclose disabilities on applications or during the interview process. However, disclosing a disability is not mandatory.
I hope this article provided tips to help people on the spectrum master workplace communication. If you feel stuck and need additional help navigating the workplace, check out your state’s vocational rehabilitation services.
Tina George is a freelance writer and editor who primarily writes about family and education. When not working on her next piece, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.