April is World Autism Month, where the goals are global understanding and acceptance of people with autism, and collectively pledging our support for a more inclusive world.It is also a great time to celebrate Rolyn’s own Director of Smiles [www.rolyncompanies.com/william-hammond.html] Chuckie Hammond. Chuckie is an enthusiastic, fun-loving, 28-year old affected by autism.
Chuckie started with Rolyn over 8 years ago as a temporary employee through Sally and Robert Goldberg Most transition program.Although he was only supposed to be a temporary employee, we quickly hired Chuckie as a permanent employee after only a few weeks of working at Rolyn. Since then, Chuckie has become ingrained in the fabric of our organization.
Even with a commute to Rolyn that includes a bus, a train and a long walk, from the day he started, Chuckie has set a standard for punctuality, regular attendance, and persistence.With his readiness to learn, dedication, positive attitude, and (my personal favorite) his great smile, Chuckie motivates our team and we see the positive effect of his presence daily. From increased camaraderie to more teamwork and productivity, I could not be prouder of our employees who readily go out of their way to help Chuckie be successful.
Chuckie’s electric personality captivated us from the day he started, and he also has had the same effect on anyone that visits the Rolyn’s headquarters. Our repeat visitors all know him on a first name basis, as does he know them.
He has improved Rolyn’s job morale and corporate culture and his magnetic presence has been a positive influence and source of motivation to his co-workers. In conversations I have had over the years with other employees, they expressed how working with Chuckie has taught them so much; don’t sweat the small stuff, teamwork and positivity are key, and life is really short – embrace everything!
Sadly, here some facts I recently learned:1 in 68 people in the U.S. (CDC estimate) are on the autism spectrum and only 18 percent of people with disabilities are employed according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a terrible wasted opportunity for employers.
An inclusive culture in a workplace translates into an organization that employs workers from diversified backgrounds including people with special needs. By hiring individuals with disabilities, you are adding highly motivated people to the workforce which promotes an inclusive culture. Your organization will immediately benefit multiple fold, including adding a great worker and from improved company morale- I guarantee it.
Here are some of the misconceptions about hiringpeople with disabilities:
- 1.Lack of awareness as to how to deal with workers with disabilities.Most programs have a very good onboarding process, as well as ongoing support; and our team fully embraced the opportunity to work with Chuckie.
- 2.Difficulty assessing an applicant’s ability to perform job tasks.With Chuckie and support from the MOST program, we quickly found tasks he was both capable and comfortable doing and he performed those above expectations.The list of tasks continues to grow as he continues to take on more responsibilities.
- 3.Extra supervisory time.As we have with other employees, Chuckie has a supervisor who assigns and monitors tasks.
- 4.Limited awareness of co-workers toward the person with a disability.During the onboarding process, we afforded our staff learning opportunities with program specialists to educate the office on communicating with people that have autism.
Action begets more action. If more companies hired special needs employees, others would be inspired to do the same. If you are looking for a way to change for the better, look no further and hire a person on the autism spectrum.That person will become, and continue to be, your inspiration long after the hire.
To find out more information on hiring individuals with developmental disabilities check out www.autismspeaks.org/employment , www.jfgh.org/services/services , www.thearc.org, or one of the many other sites out on the web.