By Isha Dash
I have had the privilege of working with an autistic technology team for nearly a decade at auticon US, a company that has a majority of employees on the autism spectrum. Throughout my time as a manager, teammate, and leader, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the unique traits and strengths that autistic individuals possess.
Clear and Direct Communication
One of the traits that stands out to me is their efficient and direct communication style. Unlike many neurotypical individuals who tend to engage in small talk, my autistic colleagues are able to stay focused and stay on task. As a result, our meetings are more productive and streamlined and our work is more efficient. auticon has embraced direct communication as part of its overall company culture as well, resulting in increased clarity, transparency, and trust among employees.
Working with Individual Strengths
Another aspect of neurodiversity that I have come to admire is the emphasis on working with individual strengths. By providing support where it’s needed and leveraging the strengths of each team member, we are able to create an environment that maximizes productivity and fosters growth. For instance, I have a team member who excels at formulating brilliant solutions in a written format but faces difficulties when required to problem-solve over the phone or video chat, so we have learned to leverage email and Slack for problem solving.
Persistence and Determination
Another quality that I have noticed is the persistence and determination that many autistic individuals possess. Despite facing challenges and obstacles, they are able to persevere and continue to push forward. I have witnessed this trait in our engineers who exhibit unwavering persistence when confronted with an intriguing feature that the client wants to incorporate. Even if they encounter several roadblocks during development, they persist and ultimately deliver the desired outcome.
Additionally, the unique perspectives that autistic individuals bring to the table have been invaluable in our team’s decision-making process. Their ability to approach problems from different angles has led to more innovative solutions and ideas. For example, when our clients have applications that are accessible to millions of users, and they need to identify fringe cases, our team is proficient in discovering them. In situations where we have limited budgets, our autistic leadership team members excel in developing practical solutions that meet the end goals.
In-Depth Knowledge and Passions
Lastly, many of my autistic colleagues have a deep passion for a particular topic or interest, which has led to some truly remarkable projects and collaborations. By encouraging and supporting these passions, we are able to create a more engaged and motivated team. For instance, several members of our team have a keen interest in technology, particularly AI. We have started using ChatGPT, which is currently free, to assist us in our day-to-day tasks.
Overall, my experience working with a team of autistic colleagues has been incredibly rewarding and has taught me a great deal about the importance of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. By embracing and valuing the unique perspectives and strengths of all individuals, we can create a more productive, innovative, and fulfilling work environment.