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Rebecca Boyd

Rebecca Boyd

Rebecca Boyd

Question? In response to the economic downturn, our firm has made some significant changes to the way we conduct our work.

This has included changing people’s roles, and in many cases extending employees’ roles. This has caused particular difficulties for one of our team. We have since learned that the individual has a diagnosis of autism. Can you give any advice on how we may support this individual at this time?

Rebecca Boyd from the Department for Employment and Learning’s Occupational Psychology Service replies:

A: Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them.

People with autism can make a valuable contribution at work when they are in the right job and are receiving the correct support. They can be particularly suited to jobs that involve following a set procedure or system. It is sometimes the case that problems only arise in work for the individual with autism when changes are made to their role, as people with autism tend to have a strong preference for working to a routine and structure.

The Department for Employment and Learning’s Occupational Psychology Service may be able to help you through conducting a workplace assessment.

You should also consider the following to support your employee:

  • Assess what they can currently do, and use this to consider additional tasks;
  • Provide the employee with the opportunity to try out any proposed new roles to enable a self-assessment;
  • Consider linking the employee with a buddy or mentor to help navigate through the change;
  • Enable the employee to keep to their routine where possible;
  • Monitor the individual as change is introduced, and address issues in a timely manner;
  • Source autism awareness training from a local specialist organisation.

Your employee may also benefit from accessing the Department for Employment and Learning’s specialist in-work support programmes, such as Workable (NI) and Access to Work (NI).

These services and programmes can be accessed through Pathways Advisers in your local Jobs & Benefits Office or Jobcentre.


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