How Autism-Friendly is Your Office?

A compilation of learning from several site visits to career and employment offices. A collaboration between the Autism Spectrum Support Team and Autism Society NL staff. 

AUTISM SPECTRUM SUPPORT TEAM (ASST) OFFICE AUDIT TIPS

In Office Spaces, Meeting Rooms, and Waiting Room

Reduce Clutter

  • Take down many of the pictures & wall hangings, especially those with words.
  • Make sure signs/pictures/bulletin boards/etc. are either fully visible or fully hidden.
  • Remove the clutter from table and desk.
  • If books on shelves are not being used, remove them.
  • Replace bulletin boards that have contact info; create a book/binder that can be pulled out if needed.

Reduce Other Sensory Distractions

  • Put covers over fluorescent lights.
  • Address humming of fluorescent lights. Purchase a floor lamp.
  • Replace the ticking clock.Other Tips re: Visuals
  • Get a cupboard with doors/ curtain to cover remaining books on shelves.
  • Replace analog clock with a digital clock.
  • Get a simple calendar, without a bunch of pictures.

At Appointments:

a) Prep for the meeting

  • Schedule appointments for least busy times of the day.
  • Clarify the purpose of meeting before their appointment. Let them know how long it should take and types of questions you’ll be asking.
  • Ask clients if they are comfortable in a small space or need to meet in a larger space (like training room).
  • Let clients know that they can bring a support person if they wish to do so.
  • Turn off radio and cell phone.

b) When Clients Arrive

  • Let clients know where washrooms are when they arrive. This can also serve as a safe place for them if they become overwhelmed.
  • Guide people to a chair in the corner as a quieter place to sit, while also offering the option of the chair by the door if someone is more comfortable that way.
  • Ask clients if they want door closed
  • Turn on lamps only when people come in and offer to turn on the florescent light.
  • Consider closing the blind, especially for new intakes, or giving that as an option. 
  • Provide a pen and paper for clients to jot notes if they like.
  • Review purpose and length of meeting.
  • Discuss privacy regulations.
  • People with Autism have an average of a 10 second processing time for verbal information. Try to give then this time in silence.
  • People with Autism have above average ability to process visual information. Provide them their next steps/actions or even a written summary of the meeting after the fact.

ADDRESS

P.O. Box 21157

St. John's, NL

Canada A1A 5B2

CONTACT

(709) 765-2182