How is your team recognising World Autism Acceptance Week?
This annual celebration runs from 28 March to 3 April 2022. It’s a chance for organisations to shine a light on the 700,000 people in the UK who are living with autism.
Autism is a type of hidden disability that can affect people in a variety of ways. In essence, it means that a person’s brain works in a different way to someone who is neurotypical. In recent years you’ve probably encountered the term neurodiversity. This refers to the range of differences in a person’s brain function and behavioural traits. As autism is a spectrum, some people are affected more than others. People living with autism can need varying levels of support and reasonable adjustments.
People living with autism are sometimes misunderstood because the condition can affect their behaviour and how they engage with other people and surroundings. For example, they may have difficulties with understanding how other people think or feel. They may also find it unsettling when they’re required to deal with unfamiliar people, situations, and surroundings. Sensory overload can prove overwhelming in situations with lots of people, bright lights, and sounds.
Interestingly, some autistic employees preferred working from home during the pandemic. Many felt that being away from the hustle and bustle of the office reduced feelings of sensory overload. Some even reported finding it difficult to readjust when the requirement to work from home was lifted.
Did you know that 1 in 5 autistic people in the UK are in employment?
And while there’s still work to be done to improve inclusion and increase those numbers, celebrations like this can serve as teachable moments for us all.
How can we celebrate World Autism Acceptance Week?
Get talking about it
Taking time to recognise awareness days specific to autism and neurodiversity are a great starting point on your diversity and inclusion journey. You may wish to highlight prominent figures who have autism, and the outstanding contributions they’ve made to the world. This can help to reduce stigmatism and can dispel common misconceptions about autism.
Read all about it
You could share online articles, to help your team get better educated on the subject. Doing so can help you to collectively learn how to be better allies to your colleagues and customers, just by being more informed.
Perhaps the best way to take an inclusive approach to celebrating autism acceptance week is to pass the mic to your employees. You could invite your colleagues to share their lived experience of living and working with autism or raising a child with autism. Maybe they’d like to write an article for your company newsletter, on their experience of working in your team. Be sure to do this in a manner that’s respectful and feels safe and comfortable for any colleagues wishing to share their story.
Moments like this are a great opportunity for your organisation to recognise and celebrate the diverse range of talented individuals that make up your team. Marking these celebrations helps to foster better understanding, inclusion, and support.
If you’re interested in raising awareness of hidden disabilities in your organisation, a 60-minute Non-Visible Disability Inclusion Workshop would be the perfect solution.
For more advice and support, check out these resources:
About the author
Hannah Chadwick is the Founder and Director of Fortitude Training Limited.
Through her corporate training workshops and consultancy services, Hannah has helped her clients to create more positive and productive workplaces. She specialises in diversity and inclusion, employee well-being, and organisational culture.
Hannah is passionate about helping people feel their absolute best in the workplace. Because we all deserve to be happy at work.