The Plight of the “High-functioning” Autist in the Workplace

I belong to a group of “high-functioning” autists who are too “able” to get accommodations at the workplace and too disabled to hold a job without the accommodations.

I have tried to hold 9 to 5 jobs several times in my life, only to end up getting burnt out in a couple of months, and spending the next couple of months recovering from the burnout. This was because none of the places I worked at were aware of or accommodated neurodivergent needs.

Statistically, 80% of “high-functioning” autists are either unemployed or under employed because they don’t get workplace accommodations that can help them do a job. And why would they, when there are several eligible candidates for the job who can do the job without needing accommodations. We would need companies that valued more than money to accommodate neurodivergent employees in the workplace. We would need companies that valued loyalty, integrity, sincerity, dedication, hard work, focus, quality. We would need companies who were socially responsible and considered their employees as human beings instead of human resources.

Here are some accommodations that people-first companies can consider to accommodate neurodivergent people in the workplace:
  1. 9 to 5 meaning 9 to 5, not 9 to 8 or 9 to 10 or 9 to 12 and so on.
  2. Not having a 9 to 5 job but having a part-time job instead.
  3. Having a fixed number of flexible working hours: Not 9 to 5, maybe 10 to 6 or 11 to 7 or 9 to 1 and 3 to 7 and so on.
  4. 5 day work week with no calls after hours on workdays and throughout the weekend.
  5. Work from home option.
  6. Freelancing option.
  7. Allowing more frequent and longer breaks at work.
  8. Having a sensory safe room at work to destress.
  9. Having one on one meetings instead of group meetings.
  10. Having a workspace with natural lighting and good ventilation.
  11. Having a spacious workspace.
  12. Having a spacious canteen.
  13. Allow use of sensory aids like sunglasses, noise cancellation headphones, hand fidgets, hoodies, etc.
  14. No pressure or expectation to engage in social chit chat and attend team bonding events.
  15. Reasonable deadlines.
  16. Well-defined work.
  17. No extra work.
  18. Clear communication of any changes and expectations though email.
  19. Weekly touch-basing to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
  20. No politics and game-playing.
I am sure many of these accommodations would benefit neurotypical employees as well, improving their efficiency and quality of work at the same time.


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