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
- 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.
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.
P.O. Box 21157
St. John's, NL
Canada A1A 5B2