What is “Neurodiversity”?

Neurodiversity refers to natural and valuable variations in thinking, brain function, and behavior (such as those attributable to the Autism Spectrum). Such variations impact how one processes information, sees the world, and interacts with people. These unique viewpoints are often highly sought after in the workplace, as organizations look for was to include a wide range of perspectives and focus on creative, innovation solutions.

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Neurodiverse Hiring Intiative at RIT

“Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome,” John Elder Robison

There are currently 3.5 million people living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with an estimated 50,000 individuals entering adulthood each year*. Current employment outcomes for those on the autism spectrum are troubling. Young adults on the autism spectrum often miss out on the critical early work experiences and those who enter the workforce, even with a college degree, face higher rates of joblessness than their peers. Current unemployment and underemployment rates for those on the autism spectrum are reported near 80%.

Employers are interested in hiring the best and the brightest job candidates but standard recruitment practices can unintentionally screen out neurodiverse job seekers. Once employed, individuals on the autism spectrum become loyal, long-term employees with strengths in logical and analytical thinking, great attention to detail, and strong ability to focus on the task at hand. The Neurodiverse Hiring Initiative at RIT, a partnership between RIT Career Services and Cooperative Education and the Spectrum Support Program, will help connect employers and job seekers on the autism spectrum in the following ways:

Recruiting

We offer assistance in finding candidates on the autism spectrum through networking events, resume books, and direct referrals.

Training

Those working closely with a new employee on the autism spectrum, including supervisors, mentors, co-workers, and HR managers, will have access to on-demand.

Support

Guidance and support will be available to participating students and their managers throughout the employment period.

Scholarship

Qualifying students may receive a financial award to help offset expenses related to unpaid opportunities, training modules related to neurodiversity in the workplace.

*Roux, A.M., Shattuck, P.T., Cooper, B.P., Anderson, K.A., Wagner, M. & Narendorf, SC. (2013) Postsecondary employment experiences among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;52(9):931-9.

More information about inclusive hiring practices related to neurodiverse talent

Harvard Business Review (May/June 2017): Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage
https://hbr.org/2017/05/neurodiversity-as-a-competitive-advantage

 

Forbes (2014): Neurodiversity: A New Talent Opportunity
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brennasniderman/2014/10/30/neurodiversity-a-new-talent-opportunity/#53aecdc10585
 

Fortune (2014): The next frontier in workplace diversity: brain differences
http://fortune.com/2014/12/16/brain-differences-autism-workplace-diversity/

Venture Beat(2017): Software firms are actively seeking “neurodiverse”employees
https://venturebeat.com/2017/05/07/software-firms-are-actively-seeking-neurodiverse-employees/
 

Fast Company (2016):  Microsoft Wants Autistic Coders. Can it Find Them and Keep Them?
https://www.fastcompany.com/3062835/microsoft-autism-hiring

Hiring on the Spectrum - Employees with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Employer Testimonials

  • He worked on a solution with remarkable efficiency and a clear passion. I particularly enjoyed his initiative to express ideas beyond the original project definition. He saw improvements everywhere and gave astounding clarity to our hardware development. He condensed complex problems into straightforward answers and often would rework existing solutions to be more effective and focused.

  • William’s design and programming skills were far beyond what we were prepared for. He has an extremely analytical mind and can quickly find solutions to a problem and use his computer programming skills to provide the solution. He can also see beyond the programming and understand the users side of the equation.

  • Ben’s technical depth is excellent. He is self-motivated and diligent. Very focused. Ben is a brilliant mind. He impressed our team with an ability to conduct intensive, more linear, problem-solving. We initially engaged him to help troubleshoot a circuitry program – a problem that had been plaguing us for several days. He was able to diagnose the issue with incredible clarity.

Contact Me

I’m interested in leveraging the talent of job seekers on the autism spectrum!

Contacts:

Janine Rowe

Janine Rowe

RIT Career Services Office

Laurie Ackles

Laurie Ackles

Director
2720 Campus Center
585-475-6936
585-475-5832