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Workplace accommodations and autism spectrum disorder

On Behalf of | May 9, 2022 | Workplace Discrimination |

When many people think about disability, they think about physical limitations or hearing or sight loss. However, a wide variety of conditions may fall under the category of disability, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). What should autistic people know about their rights?

Autistic people commonly face challenges in the workplace.

Unfortunately, employers may not treat autistic people fairly because of how autism spectrum disorder impacts a person’s social connections, behavior and communication. This can impact hiring and an autistic person’s access to promotions and benefits. In fact, many autistic people are unemployed or underemployed, and some estimates indicate that only around 6 percent have competitive jobs.

What accommodations might an autistic person request?

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. In the same way that someone with hearing loss may require an interpreter, autistic people may require accommodations in the workplace. Some changes that may support an autistic worker include:

  • Individual tasks instead of a requirement to multitask
  • Minimizing the impact of visual or auditory interruptions by reducing that input in the work area, allowing the worker to use noise-canceling headphones or providing a place where the employee can work away from other employees
  • Providing written instructions to avoid issues associated with verbal communication
  • Offering alternative lighting, shades for a worker’s cubicle or taking other steps to alter the lighting in their workspace to account for light sensitivity

The exact modifications an employee may request depend on their sensitivities and daily tasks. These modifications can help autistic people thrive in the workplace and pursue their careers.

Suppose an employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodations or you experience discrimination in the workplace because of ASD. In that case, it is possible to push back against this mistreatment. Taking steps to explore your options and know your rights can help you meet your needs in the workplace and protect your career.