Anxious, sometimes clumsy in society, not always easy to understand but amazingly detail oriented, meticulous and innovative : they are often called the forgotten of the workplace. Who are they? They are the people with autism spectrum disorders, and we are so proud to count some among our crew members at Ludia.
Diversity at Ludia
At Ludia, when we talk about diversity we want to include all types of differences, not only to be tolerant, but offer a place where we want each and every Ludian to feel free to celebrate his/her differences, share and discuss with open-minded people, and always feel accepted and respected.
So, in this context, Michel Blanchet addressed the topic of autistic people at the workplace during one of our Lunch and Learn a few months ago, to help everyone get a better understanding of those specific profiles and how to act around them and integrate them. Let’s take a look back at this topic that deserves such special attention.
The Asperger myth
Michel has been working at Ludia for almost 4 years. First as Build Master, then as Backend Developer 6 months ago as part of his evolution. When you see him, he seems quite different from what we have in mind when we think of autism: smiling, sociable with various interests. “Autism is not something well known by everyone, and a lot of people have their own idea of what it is.” He explains to us that people still strongly associate autism to a kid that is rocking back and forth, that does not want to be touched nor be disturbed in his own world. “But autism is so much more. We all have our personal characteristics and differences.”
A different brain configuration
“Since we have a different brain configuration, autism has two facets with its advantages and challenges”, according to Michel. We can group autistic differences in 2 categories :
- socio-communicatives, which influence the communication and the difficulties linked to non-verbal,
- and differences related to the variety and nature of interests, usually restricted but with a very deep understanding and knowledge.
One aspect of the autism spectrum disorders is also a brain that is focused mostly on details and not the global picture. This characteristic is very useful for a job position such as game tester for example as it allows the person to find bugs that others might not be able to. Nonetheless this can put an autistic candidate in a difficult position during an interview when asked abstract questions such as “quality/default” or “where do you think you’ll be in 5 years”.
“It’s easier for us to show what we are capable of than explaining it. That is why a lot of autists, even if they have all the right competences for the job, are rejected as they have difficulties to formulate an explanation.”
Integration at Ludia
Finding a job, for an asperger, can be complicated. Michel is thankful that Ludia opened its doors to him. But more importantly, what he appreciates the most is the feeling of being accepted for his personality and competences. Of course his difference was taken into account but was not the main reason for his recruitment.
“I noted that in comparison to other companies, Ludia always was open.” While in the past he was criticized for daydreaming without checking whether the work was properly done, this issue never occurred here.
“That’s what I found at Ludia, the fact that, whoever you are, as long as you’re doing a good job, your differences are not an issue. And if you need help, we’ll gladly give it to you. Everyone has specific needs.” Even if Ludia was already pretty open, Michel felt like some awareness still needed to be done and that it was important to explain the issues related to autism. That’s why he decided to offer a presentation. Surprised he was when he felt all the positive vibes and the Ludians’ interest around that topic.
Some needed adaptations
Welcoming an asperger person and offering a nice and comfortable environment requires some adaptations. Working in an open space could be exhausting, even more for Michel. That’s why, taking advantage of a change in the interior design of the offices, he did not hesitate to ask to be placed in a spot less exposed to noise and artificial light. Easy peasy! He also uses isolation headphones and his colleagues respect some basic rules so everyone feels at ease.
Here are some :
- Not surprising him (sneaking from behind)
- avoid physical contact
- Reduce noise if possible
- Be very clear in the talking and instructions (tasks, deadlines, etc)
What if we looked ahead?
To continue that walk into the right direction, Michel would love for Ludia to communicate more externally around the fact that people with autism spectrum disorders are welcome. And later, he would like to develop a mentoring program within Ludia to help new autistic employees integrate the crew.
So what do you say about that ? What if we make the first part of his wish a reality ? Let’s let people around us know that everyone is welcome at Ludia!
And let’s be nuts, why not just come and join our crew? We’re waiting for you!