The workplace can often present challenges for autistic people. It is usually a space designed with neurotypical employees in mind. However, by implementing simple adjustments, employers can foster a more inclusive and considerate environment for neurodivergent colleagues.
Here are six adjustments that could significantly enhance the workplace experience for autistic people.
1. Make Social Events Non-Compulsory
Autistic individuals can find social events daunting, draining, and overwhelming. As an inclusive practice, consider these gatherings as non-compulsory. Engage employees in planning social events and remain open to different activities. Rather than a night out in a noisy bar, why not try a walking tour or pottery painting?
2. Consider Some Flexibility with Working Hours
Autistic people may experience energy level fluctuations due to a variety of factors, including sensory overload and the need to mask autistic characteristics. Considering some flexibility in working hours can accommodate these fluctuations and help them work during their most productive periods.
3. Normalise the Use of Sensory Aids
Essential tools such as noise-cancelling headphones, earplugs, and stim toys can greatly assist in managing sensory overload. Normalising the use of these aids in the workplace can make autistic employees feel more comfortable and understood.
4. Provide a Quiet Space for Breaks and Lunch
Offering a tranquil space for breaks and lunch can help autistic individuals recharge and better manage their energy levels.
5. Ensure Meetings Are Well Organised
A clear structure and predictability can significantly aid autistic individuals in navigating meetings. This means adhering to a clear agenda, running meetings on schedule, and avoiding last-minute changes. This adjustment generally benefits everyone, neurotypical employees included!
6. Provide All Staff with Autism Acceptance Training
Lastly, nothing beats having well-informed colleagues. Providing training about autism can foster understanding and empathy in the workplace. It can help dispel myths and stereotypes, creating a more inclusive and supportive environment.
Remember that every autistic person is unique. The most important thing an employer can do is to ask their employees about their specific needs. Inclusion is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so it's crucial to have open and ongoing conversations.