AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a Neuro-developmental disorder that is characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, including deficits in social reciprocity, nonverbal communicative behaviours used for social interaction, and skills in developing, maintaining and understanding relationships. For the diagnosis, the presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities is required.​

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ABOUT AUTISM SPECTRUM

ASD has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the RPwD ACT please refer to RPwD ACT.

Accommodating Students with Autism Spectrum:

People with ASD may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with ASD will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.

Questions to Consider:

  • What limitations is the student experiencing?

  • How do these limitations affect the student and the student’s job performance?

  • What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?

  • What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?

  • Has the student been consulted regarding possible accommodations?

  • Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the student to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?

  • Do supervisory personnel and students need training?

Accommodation Ideas
 

By Limitation of: Attentiveness / Concentration

Products
  • Alternative Lighting

  • Applications (apps)

  • Apps for Concentration

  • Cubicle Doors, Shields, and Shades

  • Desk Organizers

  • Desk Pedal Exercisers

  • Electronic Organizers

  • Environmental Sound Machines / Tinnitus Maskers / White Noise Machines

  • Fidget Devices

  • Focus Enhancement

  • Full Spectrum or Natural Lighting Products

  • Noise Abatement

  • Noise Cancelling Earbuds

  • Noise Cancelling Headsets

  • Simulated Skylights and Windows

  • Sound Absorption and Sound Proof Panels

  • Sun Boxes and Lights

  • Sun Simulating Desk Lamps

  • Timers and Watches

  • Wall Calendars and Planners

Services
  • Resource. Teachers  & Disability inclusion coordinators

Strategies
  • Behavior Modification Techniques

  • Color Coded System

  • Flexible Schedule

  • Job Restructuring

  • Marginal Functions

  • Modified Break Schedule and Task Flow Chart

  • Task Separation

  • Telework, Work from Home, Working Remotely

  • Uninterrupted "Off" Work Time

  • Verbal Cues

  • Worksite Redesign / Modified Workspace

  • Written Instructions

By Limitation of: Managing Time

Products
  • Applications (apps)

  • Apps for Organization/ Time Management

  • Electronic Organizers

  • Fitness Trackers

  • PDAs, Note takers, and Laptops

  • Smart Watches

  • Timers and Watches

  • Wall Calendars and Planners

 
 
 
Services
  • Job Coaches

Strategies
  • Additional Training Time / Training Refreshers

  • Checklists

  • Color-coded Manuals, Outlines, and Maps

  • Color Coded System

  • Extra Time

  • Marginal Functions

  • Reminders

  • Recorded Directives, Messages, Materials

  • Supervisory Methods

  • Support Person

  • Task Flow Chart

  • Task Separation

  • Verbal Cues

  • Written Forms and Prompts

  • Written Instructions

By Limitation of: Memory Loss

 
Products
  • Apps for Memory

  • Break Reminder Software

  • Electronic Organizers

  • Form Generating Software

  • Labels/Bulletin Board

  • Medication Reminders

  • Memory Software

  • Notepad or White Board

  • On-Screen "Ruler" / Strip

  • Timers and Watches

  • Wall Calendars and Planners

Strategies
  • Additional Training Time / Training Refreshers

  • Checklists

  • Color-coded Manuals, Outlines, and Maps

  • Color Coded System

  • Extra Time

  • Recorded Directives, Messages, Materials

  • Reminders

  • Supervisory Methods

  • Support Person

  • Task Flow Chart

  • Task Separation

  • Verbal Cues

  • Voice Recorders

  • Written Forms and Prompts

  • Written Instructions

By Limitation of: Noise Sensitivity

 
Products
  • Alerting Devices

  • Communicate Another Way

  • Communication Access Technologies

  • Fans

  • Hearing Protection

  • Noise Abatement

  • Noise Canceling Earbuds

  • Noise Canceling Headsets

  • Real-time and Off-line Captioning Services

  • Sound Absorption and Sound Proof Panels

  • Worksite Redesign / Modified Workspace

By Limitation of: Organizing / Planning /
Prioritizing

 
Products
  • Apps for Organization/ Time Management

  • Desk Organizers

  • Electronic Organizers

  • Ergonomic Equipment

  • Labels/Bulletin Board

  • Note Collection Software and Technology

  • Notepad or White Board

  • Organization Software

  • Timers and Watches

  • Wall Calendars and Planners

  • Workflow Management Software

Services
  • Job Coaches

  • Professional Organizers

Strategies
  • Additional Training Time / Training Refreshers

  • Checklists

  • Color Coded System

  • Color-coded Manuals, Outlines, and Maps

  • Job Restructuring

  • Marginal Functions

  • On-site Mentoring

  • Organization/Prioritization Skills

  • Recorded Directives, Messages, Materials

  • Reminders

  • Supervisory Methods

  • Task Flow Chart

  • Task Identification

  • Task Separation

  • Written Instructions

By Limitation of: Photosensitivity

 
Products
  • Alternative Lighting

  • Anti-Glare Filters for Fluorescent Lights

  • Anti-Glare/Radiation Filters for Computer Screens

  • Blue Light Filters

  • Cubicle Doors, Shields, and Shades

  • Fluorescent Light Tube Covers

  • Full Spectrum or Natural Lighting Products

  • LED Light Filters

  • LED Lighting

  • Light Filtering Glasses

  • Lighting Gel Filters

  • Non-Fluorescent Lighting

  • Sun/UV Protective Clothing

  • Vehicle Window Tinting and Shades

By Limitation of: Respiratory Distress / Breathing Problem

 
Products
  • Air Cleaners & Purifiers

  • Air Cleaners - Chemical/Odor Removal

  • Air Cleaning Systems

  • Air Purifiers for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

  • Alternative Cleaning Supplies

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Device

  • Carpet Alternatives, Sealants, and Sustainable Flooring

  • Escape Hoods

  • Flexible Schedule

  • Floor Cleaning/Stripping Products - Chemical Sensitivity

  • Low/No Odor Paints and Stains

  • Masks – Respirator

  • Masks – General/Chemical/Allergen

  • Odor Control

  • Outgoing Voice Amplification – Telephone

  • Personal Air Cleaner (Neckworn)

  • Personal On-Site Paging Devices

  • Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)

  • Telework, Work from Home, Working Remotely

  • Voice Amplification

By Limitation of: Stress tolerance

 
Products
  • Apps for Anxiety and Stress

  • Environmental Sound Machines / Tinnitus Maskers / White Noise Machines

  • Fitness Trackers

  • Simulated Skylights and Windows

  • Sun Boxes and Lights

  • Sun Simulating Desk Lamps

Services
  • Counseling/Therapy

  • Student Assistance Program

Strategies
  • Behavior Modification Techniques

  • Communicate Another Way

  • Complying with Behavior and Conduct Rules

  • Flexible Schedule

  • Instant Messaging and Texting Solutions for Businesses

  • Job Restructuring

  • Marginal Functions

  • Modified Break Schedule

  • On-site Mentoring

  • One-on-One Communication

  • Policy Modification

  • Positive Feedback

  • Supervisory Feedback

  • Supervisory Methods

  • Support Animal

  • Support Person

  • Tele-presence

  • Tele-work, Work from Home, Working Remotely

Situations & Solutions
 
  1. A student with autism spectrum disorder applied for a marketing position with an IT company. He has a verbal communication deficit, though can communicate through handwriting and by e-mail. The employer wanted to provide accommodations during the first stage interview, which involved answering questions from a three-person search committee. We suggest providing the questions in advance and allowing the applicant to furnish written responses during the interview.

  2. A student with autism spectrum disorder is in charge of college canteen. Though knowledgeable in her field, she had difficulty participating in work activities with her team. We suggest job restructuring, which allowed her to work independently while providing information to her team electronically. This gave the student social distance she needed to be comfortable, yet also provided the team with information needed to move forward in the management of canteen.

  3. A research scholar with autism spectrum disorder was able to speak at times, but also experienced episodes when she found it difficult to speak and needed to use a speech device or speech generating app. She was preparing to present her research at a conference. She pre-recorded the audio to go with her slides and brought a tablet with a speech generating app with her in case she needed it during the question and answer portion of her presentation.