Workplace Accommodations for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • For some people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), getting a job is only part of the battle – keeping the job can be just as difficult. In the post, “Autism in the Workplace: Barriers to Employment,” we discussed some of the reasons those with autism may have a difficult time in the workplace:

    • You have a hard time accepting criticism or following instructions that don’t make sense to you
    • You may have hypersensitivies that interfere with your ability to do your job
    • You may have a hard time blocking out distractions

    Because each person with autism is different, symptoms and difficulties are varied and are dependent on your individual symptoms. You may be eligible for accommodations in the workplace to help you. In order to receive accommodations, you must disclose your disability and request accommodations as well as be able to explain why and how these accommodations will help you perform your job.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    The following are some ideas of common workplace accommodations for those with ASD:


    Social Skills

    • Provide sensitivity training to other employees
    • Provide positive reinforcement and feedback to encourage acceptable behaviors
    • Review conduct policy and provide written copies of all conduct policies
    • Provide concrete examples of expected and unaccepted conduct
    • Use job-coach, training videos and role-playing to demonstrate acceptable workplace behavior
    • Allow different forms of communication, such as email or text messaging among co-workers


    Organization and Work Flow

    • Provide a written checklist of assignment
    • Allow the use or supply an electronic organizer to help keep track of tasks
    • Divide large assignments into small tasks
    • Develop color-code system for filing or projects
    • Allow supervisor to prioritize tasks
    • Give assignments orally and in writing
    • Work with employee to establish short and long term goals
    • Assign one task at a time
    • Use visual charts and large wall calendars to identify deadlines, due dates and activities
    • Provide a job coach
    • Create a flow chart to demonstrate work flow or assign priorities to different tasks



    • Establish a fragrance free workplace
    • Allow for individual fans/heaters to create comfortable temperatures
    • Change lighting from fluorescent lighting
    • Provide sound absorption panels
    • Allow employee to use noise-cancelling headsets
    • Provide private working area or install cubicle walls around desk
    • Redesign work area to minimize visual and auditory distractions
    • Provide structured breaks to allow for physical activity



    • Provide advance notice of meetings, including topics to be discussed
    • Allow employee to give written responses rather than oral responses
    • Allow employee to bring an advocate for performance review or disciplinary meetings
    • Provide instruction orally and in writing
    • Use visual charts and clear descriptions to explain corporate structure and hierarchy of command
    • Offer positive reinforcement
    • Provide consistent feedback


    In addition to workplace accommodations, working from home, tele-working or modifying work hours can provide time to work while minimizing distractions.

  • This is a general list and is not all-inclusive. It is not meant to be used as an absolute list but rather to give you ideas on what types of accommodations may be considered reasonable. Before requesting accommodations, you should determine why and how these accommodations will help you perform your job. Remember, accommodations are not meant to provide you with a job you are not qualified to do.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:




    “Accommodation and Compliance: Employees with Asperger’s Syndrome,” Updated 2013, March 4, Melanie Whetzel, M.A., Job Accommodation Network


    “Job Accommodations for People with Autism Spectrum Disorders,”  Updated 2011, Sept 28, Staff Writer, Job Accommodation Network

Published On: April 04, 2013