Article & Observations About Diverse Teams Working Better Together
Autism, as most of us know, is a spectrum. Like so many other human traits, the degree to which certain aspects affect each individual can vary immensely. As time rolls on, we are getting better as a society at honoring the many differences we share, and we are slowly but surely working toward deeper respect of all people, regardless of what sets us apart.
According to the CDC, the most recent estimate is 1 out of every 59 babies born in the US have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). That’s about 17 out of 1000 people.
Since 2000, we have seen a dramatic growth in autism diagnoses. Some worry that there exists a link between vaccines and the development of autism in children, but this fear is utterly unfounded. Instead, this rising “epidemic” is decidedly connected to an increased awareness and understanding of the neurodiversity that has always existed, but for so long went unrecognized and therefore undiagnosed.
Because autism is behavioral and can’t be identified with a simple blood test, it is understandable that it has taken our collective humanity a number of years to begin to fully grasp the range of characteristics associated with the disorder. The prevalence of autism is currently 1 in 42 for boys and 1 in 189 for girls. Scientists are still unsure why there is exists a gender ratio of autism showing up in about five boys for every girl.
What we do know, though, is that there are plenty of ways to embrace unity despite our differences.
At Iterators, we consider ourselves neuroinclusive, and we believe it is important to look beyond typical biases that often occur in hiring. When we conduct interviews, we confidently see past typical autistic or other neurodiverse traits, such as dyslexia or ADHD, that may concern other workplace professionals, because what matters to us is that we find the person who will get the job done in the best, most efficient way.
Also, it’s just science. Studies show that people with ASD are better at focusing on tasks. Temple Grandin said it best:
“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.”Temple Grandin
There is so much to be said for working to eliminate hiring bias. Not only will it improve the lives of the many neurodiverse individuals who are unemployed or underemployed, but companies stand to gain strong workers who may lack extended eye-contact, but make up for their social differences with above-average skills and dedication to the job. Another added benefit of diversifying an office by bringing in more people with neurodiversity is the impact it will have on co-workers who might otherwise not come in contact with these individuals in a meaningful way. This is how we change the world.
Jill Willcox began her career in the nursing field, which included work as a liaison between insurance companies and people who sustained life-changing injuries at work. Over time, Jill began to work as a program director for the Crown Center for Autism at Evanston Hospital, which was a grant-funded project producing best practices in the diagnosis of patients suspected to be on the autism spectrum. She also worked as a benefits consultant for Hewitt Associates LLC. Throughout each of these professional experiences, Jill has supported others – patients, co-workers, clients and now Iterators’ employees.
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Iterators LLC is a women-owned business, certified through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) that has an emphasis on social impact.