Autism in the workplace: an insider's perspective

by |

Adapting the environment
Autistic people often feel like they have to change who they are to fit in, and in doing that they hide their autism. Recognizing how to interact with them and how to help them feel relaxed is the key to embracing and enhancing their performance.
One of the most important things to remember is their strong tendency to take things literally, which means giving ambiguous direction or asking open questions is inviting disaster. Simply asking “how are you?” will likely attract an excessively detailed and honest answer. It’s best to keep instructions and questions specific and calling for brief answers. Instead of “how are you?” ask “are you well today?”
People across the autism spectrum do have very different personalities, skillsets and problems, so like everyone else we can’t be pigeonholed. However there are certain, more general, symptoms that specialists tend to focus on when making their diagnostics. One of these is sensitivity to over-stimulation. Lots of bright colours, noise and movements can trigger severe anxiety attacks that would take the employee’s concentration off their work.
Limiting the level of sensory input, by providing either noise cancelling headphones, or a smaller, less crowded work environment, can be very useful. Placing the person in a physical space where not many people pass by is a good idea. Offices typically do not decorate in bright colours, so this is usually not a problem, but the intensity of lighting can be difficult and even painful in some cases. Neon lights make lots of noise, especially when they need to be changed, as do ventilation systems. Paying attention to small details like this can make all the difference.


read more > 1 2 3

  • Bonnie on 2016-01-04 10:02:27 AM

    I absolutely adore this article! I would love to connect with the person who set up Autism at Work!

HRM Online forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions