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Welcoming autism and neurodiversity in social and employment settings

Wesley Thurman MS Ed
15 May, 2023

By Wesley Thurman MS Ed 

As complexed and perplexing as our society may appear to the neurotypical individual who grapples with his/her sensory perception (the five senses) of this world and culture we live in; lets imagine having an over or under sensitivity to our surroundings. Let’s imagine that ordinary sunlight provades us with intense total body pain, or what appears to be consistent normal lighting from fluorescence is nothing more than a constant, annoying and distracting flickering iridescent beam of light. These are just a couple of differences that our loved ones and colleagues on the spectrum confront daily regarding their neurodiversity. 

Sensory perception is at the core of how we interface with our individual reality.  Those on the spectrum experience reality in ways as diverse as our senses and the constellational blends. This also impacts each person’s social-emotion demeanor and interaction with their environment and inter and intrapersonal relations. This understanding is of paramount importance when establishing and supporting lasting employment opportunities, relations, and friendships with those on the spectrum. 

Routine and Predictability 

First and foremost, implement a daily routine or schedule to provide the safety and security of predictability. This will go a long way in terms of productivity and problem-solving matters for both the employee and supervision. In addition to establishing a routine allow the employ maintain a well organize station to their satisfaction. 

Sensory Perception 


When considering vision, hearing, speech, touch (tactile) smell or taste – each may present subtle or overt aversions or inclinations which may be accompanied by nonstandard behaviors to release or put to rest the distraction. In certain cases, the behavior may appear as the result of a need to resolve a nutritional dietary (mineral) deficiency: such as a sodium or iron deficiencies. 

There are several remedies to visual light sensitivity in work or social settings, such as using non fluorescent bulbs, softening, or dimming lighting. The individual may also decide to use tinted eye ware.  


In the advent of auditory, listening or hearing challenges, allow either gentle music in the background, headphones, avoid sudden or unexpected loud sounds and prevent external noise of sounds as much as possible from distracting employees. Individuals may exhibit concerns of separating foreground and background sounds during work or while in meetings during conversation. (This may also occur as a visual hurdle with some individuals) 


Language is an early hallmark and perhaps indicator for those experiencing difficulties on the spectrum. Be clear and concise when speaking or writing information or instructions to your friends and colleagues.  Remember to choose your word to be appropriate and non-demeaning Accept that they may be listening carefully to your volume and tone as well as your inflections which may be puzzling to them. 

Touch -Smell – Taste 

Not everyone enjoys a touch, especially if it is unexpected or they are unfamiliar with the person who is touching. As with most cases there is a continuum for touch sensitivity or any form of sensory integration. Some individuals are very sensitive and adverse to certain textures smells, and tastes. This may unfold in both work and social setting, perhaps during a luncheon, or with certain types of clothing or certain aromas.  Allergies are known to cause a health concern, however, imagine having and skin aversion to a fabric, fiber, scent or food. 

In situations such as the above allow the employee to select their choice of who and what they prefer to interact with: their choice of fabric or dress outfit, and their dietary preferences, all within its proper etiquette and guideline’s. The operative term is choice.