Eight Simple Rules for Employing Disabled People

by dpreyde

Here are some guidelines for employers who have disabled employees- especially employees with Asperger’s Syndrome. Most of this stuff is honestly just common sense, but for some reason some folks think it’s a big fucking deal to employ retards.

1. It really fucking sucks to be the only disabled person around. I’ve had that experience in a workplace environment, and I’ve felt incredibly conspicuous and- whether or not this was in my head- I also felt condescended to. So: no tokenism. Have more than one disabled person. You should be aiming for diversity anyway.

2. Clear expectations. What is the job description? What are the employee’s responsibilities? What are the rules? Even the unspoken stuff and the implicit stuff needs to be clarified, both verbally and in writing.

3. Clear hierarchy. Who reports to who? Who makes the rules? Who follows the rules? Are there any exceptions? All of this needs to be established both verbally and in writing on the first day (or before that).

4. Talk to the autistic person about what their needs are. Listen to them and take them seriously.

5. Sensory issues need to be attended to. One solution is to physically separate an autistic person’s workspace from other people’s. This could quite easily lead to awkwardness if done in a ham-fisted way (you’re quarantining the retard?), so talk to the autistic person about their needs and involve them in the process. Explain to other people in the workplace that you are separating the autistic person to help them be as productive as possible, as well as feel safe and secure. You already ensure these things for your other workers, so it isn’t a big deal.

5. Make them feel appreciated. You should be doing this with your employees anyway. Simple, clear, verbal praise: “I noticed you did _____, and I liked that because _____.” “I recognize you’re making an effort, and your effort is appreciated.” Things like that.

6. If you autistic employee fucks up, sit down and tell them in a straightforward manner the way in which they made a mistake, and how they could avoid doing that in the future. This is really easy stuff. I mean, for God’s sake, you’re probably doing this with your employees anyway.

7. I really hope that your autistic employees won’t get harassed or bullied due to their disability, because fuck, this is the 21st century. If management treats them fairly and equitably, it is less likely that there will be problems. You already have policies in place for workplace harassment, so make sure your autistic employees understand these policies and feel comfortable following the established protocol in reporting incidents. If they don’t or can’t follow it for whatever reason, accommodate them.

8. Understand that the problem is not within your disabled employee, but rather around your disabled employee.

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