The majority of managers cited the tendency to be honest, direct and 'speak their mind', as a positive aspect of employing the individual. While criticism is unlikely to be universally welcomed, line managers appreciated having a team member who was willing to criticise or point out problems with a particular decision or process, or ask questions and articulate complaints that others may be afraid or embarrassed to raise.
Furthermore, the findings challenged stereotyped views that people with Asperger’s do not enjoy talking to others and instead supported clinical studies which consider the negative effects of particular environments. The study suggests that line managers face a challenging role in ensuring that the working environment is not too noisy or bright, as this can have disproportionately adverse effects upon someone with sensory difficulties and make working closely with other people difficult.
Unfortunately the majority of current employment processes do not suit those with Asperger’s because they often lack the ‘soft’ skills needed to be successful in an interview and the skills required in competency frameworks, such as flexibility.
They do however bring many other skills and employers should be mindful of this when recruiting, including the great potential for those with Asperger’s in roles which require high IQ levels, the ability to handle complex data and systems, and the ability to systemise, all of which are associated with the 'hard' skills needed in the various engineering and STEM disciplines.
Many individuals with the condition who are already in employment choose not to disclose it for a number of reasons, one of which is the attitude and awareness of their line manager. However, as schools and universities become better at supporting and diagnosing younger people, it is likely that incoming employees with Asperger’s will have greater expectations in regard to their employers being better informed and more able to support and recognise their particular needs.
Trust is key and the findings suggest that training all line managers on the condition and how it can be supported in the workplace would be beneficial to both parties.