In both university and employment settings, you may find that you need additional support or adjustments to avoid putting yourself at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled or non-autistic people. This article focuses on good examples of support, based on findings from the IMAGE Project.
Support in employment may include a specific policy or service put in place by the employer, indivisual ‘reasonable adjustments’, or access to services such as Disability Support within the company you are working for.
A ‘reasonable adjustment’ is a change to remove barriers to allow individuals to perform to the best of their ability when applying to, or attending a workplace. A reasonable adjustment at work could include; a fixed desk, being allowed to wear headphones, communicating primarily through email.
By law, under UK The Equality Act 2010, employers must consider making reasonable adjustments when they know that an employee has a disability, or when they ask for adjustments. The university employer then needs to make these changes, providing they are reasonable.
By accessing support or requesting a reasonable adjustment, you will avoid putting yourself at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled or non-autistic people, and should find your time at work less daunting and stressful.
How may this affect me?
While at work, you may find there are aspects of your job that you find difficult or challenging. Asking for support or a reasonable adjustment can help you in these areas that you find difficult or challenging and in turn improve your wellbeing. You may not feel comfortable asking for support or a reasonable adjustment. This is normal and understandable, but asking for support or a reasonable adjustment can make your life easier.
In the IMAGE project we talked to many autistic graduates, employers and university departments. We built up a collection of inspiring and informative case studies, demonstrating what good support practice looks and feels like. You can read about them here:
- A two-part buddy system within the organisation, offering autistic employees a buddy for both social and organisational aspects of work (see Auticon case study, Dynamic case study)
- An emergency hotline to speak to autism-friendly employment support (see Auticon case study)
- Offering an internal job change to a less stressful job (see German employee case study)
- Liaising with disability support services (see German employee case study)
- Phased workplace inductions or return to work after long absences (see German employee case study, Dynamic case study)
- Offering a part-time contact or flexible working hours (see German employee case study)
- Collaboratively designing a workspace suitable for the employee (see German employee case study)
- Creating an adjustment plan (see German employee case study)
- Taking time to find an appropriate workload for the employee (see German employee case study)
- Allowing for more frequent, small breaks (see Dynamic case study)
- Organising daily one-to-one meetings (see Dynamic case study)
- Organising weekly review sessions to discuss issues and concerns (see Dynamic case study)
What can I do next?
Speak to your manager or HR to find out more about what support and reasonable adjustments the company can provide for you.
When considering what areas you need support for and what type of support is best for you, you may find our profile builder tools helpful:
Questions to think about
- What areas of work life do you find challenging?
- What has helped you in the past?
- How do you think the company can help you overcome these challenges?
- How can you communicate your needs to your employer (TIP: Try our template builder tools)
- How do you contact the relevant support person e.g. Disability Support, your manager or HR?