autism workplace accommodations

How To Ask for Autism Workplace Accommodations

Are you Autistic and working in a workplace that only seems to cater to neurotypical people? Well, stress less, my friend. Times are changing, and you’re well within your rights to ask for autism workplace accommodations to help you feel more confident and comfortable at work.

Being Autistic shows up differently for everyone, so the accommodations for autism in the workplace you ask for can vary, too. And if you decide to let your workplace know that you’re (proudly) on the spectrum, you can make many reasonable requests.

We’ve enlisted the help of Neurodivergent Advocate April Lea for suggestions on possible adjustments, how to confidently discuss them with your boss, and tips for managing your Autistic self at work.

Workplace accommodations for autism that you’re entitled to

Did you know that in Australia, employees can request workplace accommodations for autism and other conditions? Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), your employer must meet these reasonable adjustment requests. So, where to start? These are just some examples of workplace accommodations for autism that could be helpful to you.

  • Seek out sensory accommodations. As an Autistic person, sensory issues might feel heightened by the environmental stimuli of the workplace. And often, they can get in the way of feeling productive at work. “Simple requests like changing your work attire to a more comfortable fabric, working in a dimly lit area, or even wearing sunglasses inside can help,” April says.
  • Request a set work routine. One study found that this was the most commonly requested change Autistic people had when requesting autism workplace accommodations. It can include asking for clear instructions daily or requesting minimal changes to your work without sufficient warning.
  • Ask for regular feedback. Sometimes, all we need is reassurance. As an Autistic person, it can help to ask for regular, sensitive and constructive feedback on how you’re doing at work.
  • Get yourself a buddy. Having a buddy system at work can help you feel more secure. You might already have someone in mind who you trust that could be a perfect fit for the role.
  • Negotiate flexible start and finish times. The rigidity around time in the workplace can be challenging for Autistic people, and it’s one of the key points in embracing neurodiversity at work. Ask your manager if you can have a more flexible start and finish time that takes some of the stress of meeting these.

Remember, autism traits differ for everyone, so what works for some might not work for others. Once you know which adjustments could benefit you, you can start the conversation with your manager or HR rep.

accommodations for autism in the workplace

How should you ask for autism workplace adjustments?

You can already imagine a much easier work life with these changes in place. But how do you begin the conversation so you can ask for them? We know this can feel overwhelming. These simple tips can get you started.

  • Plan the key talking points. Write down your requests and how they’ll benefit you at work. Remember, it’s not about making your boss happy or helping your company to be productive. You will benefit from these changes, so always put yourself first. “You don’t need to justify to a manager a reasonable accommodation you’re asking for,” April says. “But it can help you build confidence knowing how much it can help.”
  • Use your script. It’s okay to read your request out from the points you wrote down earlier. Many people find this helps them get through what they need to say. Feeling worried about having the conversation in person? Try sending your points in an email instead.
  • Share what you’re comfortable with. It’s not up to you to explain autism to your boss or how it impacts you. However, some people might prefer to go into detail about what neurodiversity is or how the workplace feels for them. Whatever you’re comfortable with is fine.

Most importantly, it’s about communicating in a way that works for you, and reminding yourself that you’re within your rights to make these reasonable requests. Any worthwhile employer will want to do anything they can to help.

autism workplace accommodations

Everyday tips for managing your autism in the workplace

Autistics can face unique sets of challenges at work. Thankfully, you can draw on the countless resources and first-hand experiences of others to manage them more easily. Here are a few tips that might be effective.

  • Get help from Safe Space. We’re always here to support you and your employer, ensuring you can work comfortably and confidently as a neurodivergent individual. We aim to make it easier for everyone to navigate neurodiversity at work, including embracing your autism.
  • Do what works for you. You know your traits better than anyone and what makes them easier to manage. Viewing yourself as an individual and not grouped with all other neurodivergent people can help you discover the strategies that work for you.
  • Prioritise rest. Autistic individuals can sometimes underestimate how tiring work can be. Taking breaks and being gentle with yourself is essential so you don’t overdo it.
  • Ditch the lists. While other neurodivergent people, like those with ADHD, thrive with a to-do list, you might not. “Autistic people might be more deliberate and in-depth with their actions,” April says. “So, it’s not about the quantity; it’s about the bandwidth and the space to conduct that thing without pressure.”
  • See your tasks through. “Autistic individuals are more prone to monotropism or focusing on one task. And if they’re trying to context switch from that task to another, it can cause frustration,” April says. “Some people might find it easier to see a task through than trying to timebox it.” Again, finding methods that suit you is essential.

Creating a workplace that works for you

Your wellbeing is imperative; with work a significant part of many people’s lives, you should feel comfortable there. Want to learn more about how Safe Space Collective can help you navigate the workplace as an Autistic individual? Check out our free, seven-day trial and the resources we have to create a workplace that works for you.

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