World Autism Acceptance Day - 2 April 2022

22% of autistic people are in employment. The UN theme for World Autism Awareness day 2022 is 'Inclusion in the Workplace: challenges and opportunities in a post pandemic world'.

Strengths that autistic people bring to the workplace

  • Intense focus
  • Attention to detail
  • Considered and reflective approach
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Creative thinking

Employing autistic staff in schools and colleges adds to the staff skillset and provides positive role models for autistic young people. If you are a teacher or support staff member who identifies as autistic find out more about getting involved with the NEU Disabled members networks.

What schools can do to support autistic staff

  • Ensure that unwritten rules and expectations are explained eg dress code expectations, ‘voluntary’ activities and protocols
  • Provide a mentor – if the staff member says they would find this useful
  • Ensure that written policies are explicit and accessible
  • Avoid putting autistic staff on the spot in meetings
  • Provide agendas in advance for meetings (including the plan for INSET days which will be a change of routine)
  • Be aware that an autistic employee may not be comfortable socialising outside work
  • Discuss with autistic staff their preferred way of receiving communications
  • Discuss ways in which the school can support staff in meeting with parents/carers

See more at Autism Education Trust

Find out more about supporting students in your class

Tips for including autism

  • Small changes in attitude and behaviour in every class can make autistic young people feel more accepted and included
  • All autistic people are different so ask students and their families about which adjustments would most help them
  • Explain any changes in routine in advance where possible
  • Don’t change class seating arrangements without talking to autistic students first and informing their parents/carers as this can be very upsetting
  • Make sure supply staff are aware of autistic children in the class and have information about their needs eg must be allowed to go to the toilet, must sit in the same seat, has a card to leave the class if necessary etc
  • Clearly explain what students are learning and why – a written explanation on the board for example is useful to many children
  • Allow fidget toys or equipment to help with self-regulation and participation in learning
  • Be aware of your classroom environment eg is it very ‘busy’ and distracting
  • Be aware of the extent to which noise can affect autistic students-it may not just be loud noises eg a dripping tap could affect them