Workplace Challenges That Autistic People Face and How to Overcome Them

Workplace Challenges That Autistic People Face and How to Overcome Them

Those with autism experience various challenges in the workplace. Normally, many associate work with demanding productivity-related expectations and stressful social situations, which can be frustrating, overwhelming, and even lead to anxiety and depression. For individuals with autism spectrum disorder, these challenges are even more magnified and may require the intervention of an ASD therapist. Good organizational skills and effective time management are elusive for those with ASD or ADHD and executive function complications. All these issues and unwritten rules can make navigating the workplace dynamics difficult for those with ASD or ADHD. Keep reading to discover the typical challenges those with ADHD or ASD usually face in their day-to-day activities at the workplace.

Challenges that Autistic People Face at Work

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is a heightened emotional sensitivity to perceived criticism, rejection, or failure. People with RSD experience intense emotional pain and distress when they feel rejected or criticized, and the emotional response can be out of proportion to the perceived offense. These feelings can be overwhelming and debilitating, and they can interfere with daily life.

  1. Difficulties following rules.

Autistic people usually work well with their routines and set ways because these make sense to them. However, when they have to work according to the office’s schedule, they usually find it difficult to adhere to these rules, which they find “arbitrary.” This may all boil down to the cognitive inflexibility that makes them rigid.


  1. Tough time in socializing.

The communication and social challenges experienced by those with ASD or ADHD can make building workplace relationships difficult. Autistic individuals find it hard to follow and understand office politics. They may also have different social interests than their colleagues. Their inability to read non-verbal cues and maintain good eye contact also makes them incapable of identifying allegiances or reading situations. Individuals with ASD or ADHD also struggle with working in teams, especially if they are specialized in specific fields because they find it hard to include their colleagues. An ADHD therapist might be handy in helping them build good social skills.


  1. Communicating well is a huge hassle!

Communication is a huge issue for autistic adults mostly because they usually speak repetitively and cannot make proper sentences when talking to others. This might render them unable to effectively understand what their roles are.


  1. Difficulty dealing with change in management, procedures, etc.

Autistic people become super stressed when faced with abrupt changes. They might even end up suffering from depression. Changes at the workplace usually occur from time to time. And, because this is usually out of the control of those with ASD or ADHD, they feel helpless. As a result, they get anxiety and struggle to cope with such changes.


  1. Misunderstood personal mannerisms.

Colleagues of autistic people usually misunderstand and even judge the behaviors of these people with ADHD or ASD, especially if these colleagues are not aware of this condition. As a result, autistic people might feel discriminated against, suffer from depression, become less motivated and productive, or even quit their jobs altogether. Consulting an ADHD therapist might be helpful.  


  1. Autism masking and exhaustion.

Autistic people usually have challenges with sensory processing. Things such as noise, bright lights, etc., can be stressful and result in anxiety. Add their communication struggles and emotional regulation issues, and you’ll see why autistic individuals might get easily fatigued. Also, many autistic people usually hide their autistic traits at the workplace and doing this for a long time gets stressful and tiring. An ASD therapist might really come in handy.  


  1. Difficulty in meeting deadlines.

Completing work on time can be so challenging for autistic people. They might require more time for certain tasks compared to their colleagues. Executive functioning coaching can help them improve task prioritization and execution.


  1. Staying organized is a huge problem.

Normally, autism manifests differently in different people. However, one common trait is the inability to manage time well, remain organized, and stay on track to complete tasks on time. This is why they may struggle massively in planning out and scheduling their tasks ahead of time. Executive functioning coaching can help them improve their organizational skills.

Practical Solutions to Overcome the Challenges That Autistic Individuals Face At the Workplace.

  • By simply offering various types of communication lines, employers can put autistic people in a better position to understand things at the office much better.
  • Autistic adults usually get judged for their behaviors. For instance, foot tapping often helps them to fend off anxiety. Colleagues who don’t understand why they do what they do might stare and even laugh at them. As such, employers need to integrate autism information in their training programs to create an accepting full of understanding.
  • Regarding completing tasks on time, employers should adjust the schedule according to autistic people’s pace to provide them with a little extra time. This significantly takes a lot of pressure off their shoulders. The increased flexibility contributes to greater productivity in the long run. Executive functioning coaching by an ASD or ADHD therapist might also be handy in helping autistic employees remain organized and focused on their tasks.
  • Autistic individuals are not usually comfortable around many people. Thus, it is necessary to provide a little time and space where they can go to relax and feel calmer.
  • If possible, a top recommendation is providing those with ASD or ADHD with a friendly coworker with whom they can talk freely or ask for help. This coworker can then help the rest of the people to better understand the worker with ASD.
  • Using assistive technology, e.g., electronic or visual aids to break big tasks into simpler and more actionable tasks is also advisable. Such tools will help them stay organized, motivated, and productive.

Final Takeaway

As much as workplace challenges for those with ASD or ADHD exist in different forms, they can still be easily overcome for the benefit of everyone within the office dynamics. Autistic behaviors should not be used to exclude anyone from the workplace or discriminate against anyone in it. Admittedly, there is no one-size-fits-all method for eliminating these workplace issues. However, there helpful techniques like getting a job mentor or coach, consulting an ASD therapist, using assistive technology,  and increasing awareness about autism, offer a good foundation for achieving this goal!

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