General Questions about Contracting vs Hiring ASD Talent

Should we contract or hire?

This decision is ultimately yours. We will support whatever you decide. If you are new to neurodiversity, we recommend that you contract the ASD talent from Focus. The benefits of contracting include:

  • Sharing the risk with a company that knows how to neurodiversify in business sectors, such as IT/tech
  • Providing yourself the time to assess the ASD individual’s fit with your organization
  • Providing yourself the time to learn and become comfortable with neurodiversity
  • Unlimited access to neurodiversity support and knowledge during the contract

Once you are comfortable with the ASD talent, you can always convert the contractor to an in-house employee.

Do we need to be experts in autism?

No, you do not. Whether you contract or hire ASD talent, you have access to neurodiversity support. If you contract, the hourly contract rate includes access to our neurodiversity expertise, training, and support. If you hire ASD talent, our fees to provide these services will likely be covered by government-funded employment programs. In the event that government-funds are unavailable, then we offer reasonable hourly rates and monthly retainer fees at a not-for-profit cost.

How do we interview ASD talent?

Initially, we ask that you consider an alternative to the traditional interview or skip it completely. If you contract with Focus for ASD talent, Focus is ultimately responsible for the person(s) we place on your contract. If you are unhappy for any reason with our consultant, we will replace that person. In this situation, meeting the person ahead of time is not as essential and can be skipped.

On the other hand, if you are hiring the ASD talent as your employee through Focus or you want to meet the contractor before onboarding, then alternatives to the traditional interview include:

  • An informal meet and greet.
  • A supported traditional interview – i.e. a support person attends with the ASD individual
  • Skills assessments – take-home assignments or in-office assignments. A private space for the person to complete the in-office assignment would be appreciated.

Do we need to change our HR policies and procedures?

If you are contracting Focus talent, then no, you do not. If you are hiring ASD talent, then eventually changing career development and employee assessment criteria may be needed. For example, if your ASD employee wants to apply for an internal position, the traditional interview may need to be replaced with the suggestions listed above or a temporary assignment into the new role, such as a secondment, with a fixed start and end date. The receiving manager and team may need to be trained on neurodiversity and provided additional support initially. These costs, including assistance with the changes, will likely be covered by government-funded employment programs. In the event that government-funds are unavailable, then we offer reasonable hourly rates and monthly retainer fees at a not-for-profit cost.

General Questions Related To Work

Why should I hire a Focus consultant?

The reasons are many and varied. The key reason is that you will get a detailed, hard-working, focused individual with excellent analytical skills and perseverance for getting the job done. If our consultant works on your site you may experience a subtle workplace transformation toward greater tolerance, patience, and appreciation for others’ strengths and ideas.

Will we have to change how we do our work?

No. Our consultants are trained to work in today’s business environment. They understand the need to be flexible and adaptable and we provide ongoing support to assist them.

How will they get up-to-speed on our technology platforms and processes?

Whatever you typically provide in training any new team member, our consultant will require the same. We provide additional assistance if needed. If you haven’t added new team members for quite some time, we will work with you to devise a training program that will minimize disruption to your work flow and other team members.

What about learning our unique applications and data?

Our consultants will require whatever training you provide to any new team member. What will be unique is the different way our consultants assimilate the inter-relationships and patterns of systems and data. Focus consultants strive to gain a comprehensive, system-wide view of what they are working on, and many of them act like subject matter experts for the project they are working on.

We have a fast-paced environment where priorities change. Is this a problem?

No. Our assessment process looks for individuals who are well suited to fast-paced IT environments. We do a detailed fit analysis and assign our consultants to contracts in which they will thrive. We also provide ongoing support to ensure schedules and quality of work are met or exceeded.

Nothing is documented or, if it is, it’s out-of-date. Will we have to document everything before assigning tasks to our Focus consultant?

Not unless you would do it for any other new hire. Our consultants work with whatever is provided. If we feel efficiencies can be introduced, we will discuss them with you. We provide value-add processes to our clients when needed.

Will the Focus consultant be able to keep up with the workload?

Yes. You may find that our consultants will take time to ramp-up, but after that, they prove to maintain a higher level of productivity and engagement over time.  We have no doubt they will meet or exceed your productivity expectations.

Autism-Related Questions

How do we interact with our Focus consultant?

Be direct, honest, and respectful. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Avoid sarcasm, innuendoes, and jokes. Our consultants will take what you say literally and will not be adept at reading between the lines. They will appreciate your honesty and being treated with respect.

What might we experience with our Focus consultant?

You may find our consultant to be direct and honest, sometimes blunt. Their intent is not to offend. If they do offend, try not to take it personally.

Our consultants may not pick up on social cues. They are vulnerable to ridicule and harsh judgments. Always remain curious about why they may be responding the way they are. If you are unsure, ask them.

They may not make eye contact, or require headphones to work due to sensory overload. They are not being dishonest, evasive, or disrespectful.

Their facial expressions may not synch with the situation at hand. Quite often our consultants are unable to convey facial expressions that are in keeping with their internal responses. If unsure about their current response or state, ask them.

We have social events. Do we invite them?

Yes, but without putting them on the spot. Social events and small talk can induce anxiety but they will not want to hurt your feelings by declining an invitation. Instead of saying “Would you like to join us for lunch?” where a yes/no answer is required, say “We are going for lunch and you are welcome to join us. We will be leaving at noon and meeting in the lobby.”  They may show up or not but at least they haven’t been put on the spot in having to give you an answer.

In many cases, our consultants enjoy coming to social events without the pressure of intense interactions.  For example, they enjoy going out for lunch with the team but they may not say much.

Accommodation questions

What accommodations will we have to provide?

For our consultants who have sensory sensitivities, we provide accommodations such as noise-cancellation head sets and ergonomic mice and keyboards. The accommodations, if needed, are typically inexpensive, unobtrusive, and readily available. We work with our clients to make these accommodations easy and low cost.

Our office is an open plan concept. Will this be a problem?

We will assess your work space and make recommendations. For example, some of our consultants are visually distracted or have a high startle response. In these situations, we may ask that they be seated with a wall behind them or at least not in a major walkway.

Whom do I call if I’m not sure what to do or I have an issue?

Focus provides ongoing support for clients and our consultants.  This support can take the form of a Job Coach, who helps with interpersonal or behavioural (soft skills), or a Technical Coach who helps with professional development.  Call the Management Team at Focus and together we will decide on a course of action.

Assigned responsibility question

Our Focus consultant is doing so well that we want to assign him/her more tasks and responsibilities. Can we?

We’re pleased to hear our consultant is knocking your expectations out of the park! Before assigning more responsibilities or tasks though, contact the Focus Management Team. We will assist you through the process to ensure the desired outcomes are realized.