Why you should hire an autistic person

People with autism can often struggle to find employment, but one expert says the tide is slowly turning, as companies realise the benefits of hiring those on the spectrum.

Altogether Autism national manager Catherine Trezona told The AM Show that being autistic is "a difference, rather than a disability", associated with the way the brain is wired.

"Internationally, there is a growing trend talking about neuro-diversity as a competitive advantage.

"It's actually not about doing somebody a favour by hiring them... but actually [about wanting] thought diversity, a different way of looking, somebody who can be completely focused on the core of our business - and they are autistic skills.

"If you want somebody who, in their spare time, does the stuff they do at work, consider autistic talent.

"If you want somebody who is completely honest and reliable, and will not miss a day and will not be hungover on a Monday, consider autistic talent."

But Ms Trezona says in New Zealand autistic candidates are often overlooked, because the interview process does not work in their favour.

"You might have somebody who is highly skilled, highly qualified, but the whole process of being employed is a stumbling block.

"I don't think any of us are actually employed because we're good at having an interview... yet that is how we assess whether someone is skilled at a particular job.

"So, if you've got somebody who is anxious about unexpected events, if you've got somebody who isn't great at picking up non-verbal communication skills... that's not going to be a place where some are going to shine as being an ideal candidate."

Ms Trezona says many people don't know they have autism and being diagnosed can be enlightening.

"That person may have had a lot of life experiences that haven't been supported... so it can be a real revelation."