Accommodating Autistic Employees In The Workplace
Provide clear communication: Many autistic individuals thrive with clear and direct communication. Use plain language and be specific about expectations, timelines, and tasks. Avoid non-literal language (idioms and metaphors).
Create a structured environment: Autistic individuals often benefit from a structured and predictable environment. Establish a routine and minimize surprises and changes whenever possible. Give notice and explanation for changes when possible.
Allow for sensory accommodations: Many autistic individuals have sensory sensitivities, so providing noise-cancelling headphones or a quiet workspace can be helpful. Consider bright light and strong smells in the working environment, as these can be overwhelming.
Provide written instructions: Autistic individuals may struggle with verbal instructions, so providing written instructions can be helpful. Consider allowing transcription during meetings or sending out written summaries of key information. Allow for clarifying questions.
Be flexible: Autistic individuals may need flexibility in their work schedules or assigned tasks. Be willing to make adjustments and accommodations to help them succeed.
Provide support and resources: Consider offering support and resources such as an employee assistance program or access to a mentor or coach. Offer accommodation plans, do not make assumptions - ask what support they need, since each autistic individual's needs will vary.
Educate coworkers and managers: Educate coworkers and managers about autism and the unique needs and strengths of autistic individuals. This can help create a more inclusive and supportive work environment. Educate on neurodiverse-affirming language and practices.