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Workplace Strategies for ADHD and Autism in 2020

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. 
Sensory garden museum.

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. 

Autistic Software Developers Experience Unique Stresses

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 for the workplace. One of the best practices notes ongoing support with applications, interviews and negotiations in the recruitment process. 

The researchers also recommend voluntary and supported work placements to help individuals gain understanding around the expectations of work. 

But the struggles can extend to participation in the workplace. Group work is highlighted as a challenge for many people with ADHD and autism, due to the lack of concentration, as well as the struggles that come with social communication. With specific adaptations, adults may be able to cope. 

Managing the daily demands of everyday life can also impact adults, with knock-on effects on punctuality, time management and meeting deadlines. Supports found to be helpful include mentoring, supportive monitoring and technological aids such as apps. 

Environmental modifications to minimise noise and sound were also encouraged, as well as access to quiet spaces to reduce anxiety. Voice recognition technology and explicit instructions in a visual format such as timetables, deadlines and changes in routine can also minimise anxiety. 

Dealing with the public, working with colleagues, team meetings and presentations may be a struggle, and can often leave adults with AHDD and autism feeling anxious, irritable and sometimes confrontational.

The researchers suggest that adults can benefit from coaching about the organisational structure of the workplace, as well as expectations around how to dress and behave and how that differs from when at home.

It is also important to provide reasonable adjustments and to train colleagues to promote understanding of their neurodivergent colleagues, they add. 

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