Canadian institutions of higher education have long touted their dedication to inclusivity and diversity. The Academy, however, exists in a mix of new managerialism and…
Canadian institutions of higher education have long touted their dedication to inclusivity and diversity. The Academy, however, exists in a mix of new managerialism and collegialism, environments that demand conformity and the prioritization of sameness over difference. For employees with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the very nature of their condition means that conforming to a standard is a difficult, if not impossible task. If passed, the proposed Accessible Canada Act means universities in Canada will have a legal responsibility to accommodate employees with disabilities, including ASD.
ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition of varying severity characterized by difficulties with communication, social interactions, and repetitive behaviors. While it is difficult to determine how many adults live with ASD in Canada, current statistics show that 1 out of 66 children are on the autism spectrum (PHAC, 2018). Many have physical and mental comorbidities that complicate their health status.
Though conformity may streamline human resources processes and standardize staffing issues, it is essential for administration to identify areas where they are weak in supporting potential and current employees who veer from the norm. Libraries need human resources policies and procedures that reflect and celebrate uniqueness. Long-held tendencies toward valuing fit and conventionality need to give way to transformational mentoring and empowering in order for a diverse workforce to reach its fullest potential. Embracing inclusivity will result in numerous benefits, not just for the employee but for the library. This chapter shows how personnel with high-functioning autism can be best supported in Canadian academic libraries.