Accommodations and Supports for ADHD and Autistic Adults [Article]

Carolyn Cage  |  04/07/2020

UK researchers have published the first expert consensus statement on the management of autism and ADHD seven years after psychiatrists formally recognised the co-occurrence of both conditions. 

In 2013, the fifth and most recent version of the Diagnostic Standards Manual (DSM-V) stated that ADHD and autism can be simultaneously diagnosed. 

However, there remains a lack of guidance on best practice for management despite the complex presentations found across children, adolescents and adults. 

To address this issue, UK experts met in London in December 2017 to agree upon a unified approach spanning areas such as medical treatment, education and the workplace.

The consensus statement emphasises:

  • systematic support through education, career advice and skills training;
  • Ongoing support with applications, interviews and negotiations in the recruitment process; and
  • voluntary and supported work placements to help individuals gain understanding around the expectations of work.

Common struggles for ADHD and autistic adults in the workplace include:

  • Groupwork can be a challenge due to a lack of concentration, struggles with social communications, which can be overcome with specific adaptations
  • Common struggles with punctuality, time management and meeting deadlines for projects, which can be supported by mentoring, supportive monitoring and technological aids such as apps 
  • Dealing with client-facing projects, such as the public
  • Working with colleagues, managing team meetings and presentations can spark anxiety, irritability and turn into confrontations

Environmental modifications to reduce sound and noise, and reduce anxiety include: 

  1. Access to quiet spaces;
  2. voice recognition technology
  3. explicit instructions and timetables delivered in a visual format, deadlines and changes in routine 

Autistic and ADHD adults can benefit from:

  • Coaching on the organisational structure of the workplace 
  • Expectations on how to dress and behave, and how that differs from home
  • Managers being trained to promote understanding of their ND colleagues and provide reasonable adjustments 

Read the original research article here.