The Mind in the Workplace
The Mind in the Workplace Series, focuses on the importance of mental health in the workplace. Mental health can be a topic that many shy away from in the workplace. Breaking the silence on this topic strengthens our ability to be inclusive and aware of challenges that others may be struggling with. Join us in this important series to learn more about mental health challenges and ways to support employees who experience mental health challenges so that everyone in the workplace can thrive.
Week 7: The Mind in the Workplace - Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
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Please Note: The Mind in the Workplace series aims to educate and spread awareness about mental health disorders and their impact on the workplace. However, members of the HR team are NOT mental health professionals. The information provided should not be used to self-diagnose, nor does it fully depict the complexity of each mental health disorder referenced. We understand that mental health looks different from person to person for numerous reasons. Therefore, please use discretion and consider doing external research when viewing the videos in this series.
1. How is the image of the wheel helpful when thinking about the autism spectrum? Why is it important not to take a "one-size fits all" approach?
2. Based on what you have heard from this video, or your past experiences, how can interviews be impacted by autism spectrum disorders, and how can that cost companies in the long run? What adjustments could be made during the interview process to reduce overlooking candidates that may be on the spectrum?
3. Please note: After discussing the question, try hovering over a statement below to see if these are potentially good responses. (This activity is not available from a mobile device.)
Jane notices that her new coworker, Pete, seems uncomfortable in certain situations. For example, Pete seems uncomfortable if it gets too noisy in the breakroom or when someone holds eye contact with him for two long. What are some ways Jane can help make Pete feel more comfortable in his new work environment?
Jane could reach out to HR to brainstorm ideas.
When in doubt, this is always a great idea.
Jane should just ask Pete if he has autism.
This is not a great approach. It demands Pete to disclose sensitive mental health information. It would be better to acknowledge that she has noticed his discomfort, and ask if there are ways she can help.
Buy Pete a book on being more confident and sociable, then leave it anonymously on his desk.
This is not a helpful approach. It minimizes his experiences and implies he needs to "fix" himself. The only context where this might be helpful is if Jane struggles with the same issues and found this particular book helpful. If that is the case, she should not leave it anonymously, but explain how the book has helped her and that she thinks he may benefit from it as well. But even in that instance, it may not be a good starting place if Pete is new to the team. Jane should focus on building rapport first before giving advice.
Approach Pete and acknowledge that she has noticed he seems uncomfortable at times.
She can ask if there is anything she can do to help. (This is a good approach if you are comfortable with it. It doesn't diagnose or label Pete, but it opens a dialogue to discuss ways he can feel more at home.)