Welcoming autism in the workplace: register for the Opportunities4autism training

Saturday 2 April 2022

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From the stage of the Ariston Theatre, Drusilla Foer reminded us how important it is to embrace our uniqueness but also to be open to the uniqueness of others, and to get out of a state of convictions and automatisms that lead us to reject the other in our lives, in our living spaces, relationships, study and work.

On the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day, we recall the need for greater political and social cooperation for the comprehensive care of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), so that care processes and active policies are defined in different social spheres to remove the barriers that stand in the way of inclusion and independent living.

Although society’s sensitivity to prejudice has increased, the general representation of autism remains stereotypical: widespread representations of ‘autistic people’ include emotionless geniuses or ‘out-of-control’ people who need to be physically restrained. These caricatures have contributed to the exclusion of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders from various contexts, based on a generic “they wouldn’t fit in/they wouldn’t be able to work here“. The stereotype has led to a rigid denial of capability: just by declaring oneself as having an ASD, one is deemed unable to “fit in” and contribute in the workplace. At the same time, people with SLD who have managed to integrate can find themselves unheard in the expression of their difficulties precisely because they do not correspond to this distorted representation: falsely believed to be “not really autistic”, they struggle to convince others that their perspectives are valid, that their traits and methods are not wrong, they are just very different, and that their sensory sensitivities are physiological responses and not the result of likes and dislikes.

Despite legislation to support the employment of people with disabilities and the pioneering efforts of a small number of companies, social enterprises and training and integration programmes, the unemployment rate among people with Autism Spectrum Disorders remains appallingly high. Companies and recruiters often express reluctance to employ people with ASD or other neurodiversity, and are unable to give adequate attention and consideration to the specific needs of staff with ASD. Even in the presence of good intentions, lack of specific training, stigma and unconscious biases can lead to wrong or harmful actions.

If organisations really want to commit to inclusivity in the workplace, they need to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach designed only for neurotypical people and commit to designing a new workplace where people are not defective but different.

In response to this, CESIE is currently engaged in the project Opportunities4autism – A spectrum of opportunities: training field professionals on how to recruit and support individuals with autism at the workplace. This project aims to build and sustain an inclusive and welcoming culture in the workplace through the development of a training package aimed at managers, employers and recruiters. The aim is to provide employers with the tools to create welcoming workplaces and to create a workplace culture in which all employees can grow and contribute.

The first phase of the project concerned a research on the condition of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders in the world of work and on the level of awareness of employers and HR managers on the issue.

The learning needs emerging from the research have been taken into account for the development of the Opportunities4autism training package. An online training platform will also be developed for all interested parties.

Do you work in the field of vocational training, have a business activity or deal with people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and would you like to be trained on the topic? We are preparing a training course that will take place from 2 to 6 May 2022 in Palermo. Registration is now open! Registration is free, but places are limited.

Information about the training course

Requirements to participate:

  • Knowledge of the English language at a level where you can actively participate in the training.
  • Age: 18+
  • Interest in initiatives supporting the social and labour inclusion of specific target groups

Modality: in presence

Starting date: 2-3-4-5-6 May 2022

A certificate of participation will be issued at the end of the course.

To receive more information about the Opportunities4autism project and the training course, please contact: alessia.valenti@cesie.org.

About the project

Opportunities4autism – A spectrum of opportunities: training field professionals on how to recruit and support individuals with autism at the workplace is a two-years project co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of European Union under KA2 KA202 – Strategic Partnerships for VET.


The project is carried out by 6 partners with long experience in supporting vulnerable groups.

For further information

Read more about Opportunities4autism and see the project website https://opportunities4autism.com/.

Contact Alessia Valenti: alessia.valenti@cesie.org.