By Erika Gleeson, Senior Behaviour Specialist
& Harry Hawkins, Behaviour Support Practitioner
1. Consider sensory sensitives. Could you modify the lighting and acoustics of your office to make it more conducive to those who have sensory challenges?
In order to increase understanding of the sensory experience of people with autism, assist the colleagues to comprehend what it may be like to experience sensory sensitivity. Such as watching this video below.
2. Many individuals with ASD become overloaded by too much sensory activity and too much communication. Look out for the signs that your colleague might be starting to feel distressed, and see how you can help.
3. Create a break-out room or area, that has minimal stimulation, so people can retreat there if they are starting to become overwhelmed.
4. Create visually conceivable to do lists, that can be interactively checked off.
5. Increase the amount of step-by-step instructions around the work place; visual and plain English posters appropriate for all employees e.g. steps for using the printer.
6. Be accepting of people’s different communication strengths, and cater to the different learning styles of employees (e.g. those that retain visual information over auditory).
7. Ensure the ASD colleague has a workplace contact that they can freely confide in regarding any issues, and make sure they know who this person is.
8. Don’t interrupt those wearing headphones, in the instance these are being worn for sensory relief.
9. Provide psycho-education for other employees regarding disability, aiming to normalise and increase understanding of it – management have a responsibility to educate staff.
10. Appreciate that the social aspect of work may not be of interest to everyone.
11. Avoid using metaphors, similes and other figurative language. Concise language is best.
12. Transitioning times/periods may be difficult. Utilising augmentative technologies to make ‘time’ a more concrete and less abstract concept would be useful. Consider using time clocks that count down or visual representations of times till MT, Break, Lunch, Home etc. Examples include below:
13. If appropriate, teach the basics of ‘key word sign’ language to the other employees.
14. Don’t underestimate/overlook, utilise the skills and strengths of a person with Autism. Consider: date keeping, calendar bookings, attention to detail, procedure checking, maths, extensive knowledge in a specific area, strong interests, reliability (to name a few).
15. Ask how you can help.