Did you know that you had more brain cells when you were 2 years-old than you will at any stage of your life? But probably you didn’t know that this is also the stage when Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children is diagnosed.
ASD refers to a set of neurological disabilities which interfere with their social interactions, their ability to communicate and the repetitive repertoire of interests and activities. The extent of disabilities varies on where they are on the spectrum.
A recent international study has shown that 1 in 68 people have autism and the overall incidence of autism is believed to be consistent around the globe. This means that there are over 18 million people with autism and related disorders in India. This also means that we all might have come across atleast one person with autism in our lives- but never realized he/she had autism.
But the question to ponder upon is how many of them are employed?
In fact, according to Action for Autism, National Centre for Autism in India, no data is available from India to provide an India-specific estimate of the prevalence, and it is unknown whether there are variations in this rate worldwide.
Corporates like Mindtree Ltd, Accenture and Wipro Ltd, among others, have inclusion drives to employ people with hearing, visual and speech impairments. But when it comes to intellectual disabilities such as autism, corporates have not scratched the surface
But there are some organizations that have embraced people with autism and have helped them to lead a normal and a respectful life with various initiatives. One such example is SAP’s Autism at Work Initiative which is building templates of best practices for inclusion of people on the spectrum and setting a leadership example for the rest of the world. Autism at Work” is SAP’s global initiative which began in May 2013 where the focus is not only on employment but also on working closely with the community to foster better education and training for individuals with ASD. A structured process is defined for the Autism at Work project in SAP globally. The shortlisted candidates in India undergo a three-month training cum assessment program which is handled by their local partners, where they are trained on employability skills, advanced computer skills along with SAP specific technical and operational topics.
M S Ajay Prasad, an employee at SAP who presented a case study of Bharat Subramanium, an autistic colleague said,
'SAP’s focus is on innovation and bringing people with different backgrounds together and Autism at Work is essential to customers, to driving innovation and to engaging the workforce.
A case study of an autistic employee at SAP: Different, but not less
Bharat Subramanium an autistic child diagnosed at the age of 2 was just like a normal yet a special child for his parents but not for the society. Although he managed to complete his basic education, he faced a lot of difficulties in finding a job for himself. Then one day his parents came across SAP Autism at Work program which focuses on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He then became a part of the programme and at present Bharat is working at SAP Labs India in the logistics department and is an integral part of the organization.
After receiving a job, Autism at Work participants are given mentors and team buddies—existing SAP employees who volunteer—as well as a job and life skills coach usually provided by a partner group.
Autistic individuals’ strengths include the ability to find patterns and anomalies in data and to focus and perform high-quality repetitive work. Those attributes are valuable in roles in data analysis, IT, software design and multimedia.
As concluded by Prasad,
'Our inability to see their ability is our disability”.
SAP is helping not only the autistic people but also acid attack victims and people with Parkinsonism.
This article has been built from the session delivered at SAP Spotlight Tour at Taj Vivanta, Surajkund on 1st & 2nd December 2016.