As you may, or may not know, I work (paid employment). I work part time, because that is what I have found to be most flexible to me. My employer knows I am autistic & have been *super* accommodating of my needs.
A lot of autistic people I know either don’t ask for accommodations in their workplace or don’t know what to ask for. So I thought I’d share some of the reasonable adjustments I have asked for.
For context, this list is actually from my application for Chartered Membership of my professional body. It’s in relation to an exam that forms part of the membership assessment. I’ll share my list for my day job another time (it’s quite old & I’d like to re-word it before I share).
- Anxiety – like many autistic people, I struggle with social anxiety, often characterised as an impaired ability in social imagination. Anxiety experienced by autistic people can lead to impaired cognitive function and reduced academic / professional performance in un-adjusted situations. I find this anxiety significantly worse in groups of strangers, when given incomplete, inconsistent and ambiguous instructions or information, and when under time pressure.
- Sensory processing – like many autistic people, I am extremely sensitive to sensory input. For me particularly, I have a particularly low tolerance for auditory and visual inputs. Background noise that may be tolerable for non-autistic people can be overwhelming for me, along with flickering florescent lights, bright and visually busy spaces and large paragraphs of unbroken text. Again un-adjusted sensory environments impact negatively on cognitive functioning / professional performance. To effectively manage sensory processing, I need low sensory environments – or regular breaks from a harmful sensory environment – and to be able to trust that such will be available to avoid exacerbating their anxiety as described above.
- Physical Disabilities – aside from being autistic, I have a chronic pain condition and Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS). My chronic pain is increases with sitting in hard chairs and when handwriting. The increase in pain leads to impaired cognitive function and reduced academic / professional performance. PoTS is a condition characterised by symptoms (headaches, dizziness, brain fog, etc) which increase whilst sitting or standing which are relieved by lying down. Again, these symptoms lead to impaired cognitive function and reduced academic / professional performance. To effectively manage my physical disabilities I need to be able to have a comfortable workstation, I need to be able to take regular breaks from my work to lie down and I need to have a flexible time-frame in which to complete my work.
I’ve compiled these with the help of Becca at Just Reasonable who has been invaluable in the process of getting my professional institution to actually give me accommodations at all.
I hope this list helps other autistic people with a framework in which to ask for reasonable adjustments applicable to your own experience.