After being offered a position, a candidate who may not have disclosed in the interview, may disclose during the onboarding process. This process should give a new employee with a disability to chance to explain to their employer what their disability is and the reasonable accommodations they require.
It would then be helpful to arrange a meeting or conversation to try and fully understand their condition and needs, to also ask if they can have a link to research their condition before the meeting so everyone is on a similar page. I feel the most important thing when someone discloses a disability is to show understanding and wanting to help where possible. Opening that conversation and starting that dialogue.
Here are some suggestions to make work places more autism friendly
- clear and logical rules and expectations
- a relaxation space e.g. a quiet room
- reduction in sensory distraction/overload in the workplace e.g. maximise natural light, enable easy control of light and temperature, reduce strong smells
- information about autism, and about support services available so that all workers can access it
- training for managers and others about autism, including recognising autistic positives and skills
- all instructions and policies to be written and communicated clearly and accurately
- tools to assist personal work organisation, visual timetables, organiser apps
- use only objective criteria are used for assessment/promotion
- ensure work schedules are adhered to
- inclusion of autism in harassment and bullying policies to minimise harassment and bullying of autistic workers and so that those who bully or discriminate against autistic workers are dealt with appropriately
Reasonable accommodations for individual autistic workers might include:
- paid time off when needed
- fixed hours rather than variable shifts
- reducing specific sensory stimuli in the workplace e.g. locating that individual’s workstation in a quieter or less bright part of the office
- change of work location, for example to be nearer home, or nearer support facilities, or to a work location which is quieter or less over-stimulating
- extra breaks to enable relaxation
- providing a mentor
- individual support where schedules are unavoidably disrupted or changes are introduced
- adjustment to the way in which assessments are carried out
- a clear routine and work schedule
- a personal workstation (rather than sharing a workstation or ‘hot-desking’)
- relaxation of triggers for disciplinary action for matters such as sickness absence or mistakes arising from executive function impairment
- additional training time off for treatment/appointments, as part of a policy for disability leave
- re-allocating some work to colleagues, with their agreement
It is important to keep an open and honest dialogue with an autistic person or person with a disability. Trust is a very big thing, so consistency and doing what you say you are going to do are two things that keep the trust and dialogue open.
Therefore always check in with an autistic person to see if the accommodations initially agreed are working or need adding to/changing. Employers should always communicate with someone who is autistic or people with a disability in regular periods. This can be agreed in advance.