Why My Accommodations Help You

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When I’m applying for jobs, one of the topics I always worry about is whether my accommodations will be considered reasonable.  Even if my accommodations are reasonable, it is up to me to remind my employer of those accommodations.  This can feel a little embarrassing- what if I’m wasting people’s time, or I’m overthinking it?  The truth is that a majority of accommodations don’t cost money-they cost a little extra time.  If simple, no-cost accommodations are simply integrated into the workplace processes, it breaks down barriers for me and other people on the spectrum.  HR can focus on accommodations that are a little more complicated or require some financial investment.

For example: a common accommodation is providing a written version of instructions or notes from a meeting.  Secretaries, office managers, and administrative employees are often tasked with this.  However, the no-cost version of this is just assigning this task to another employee on a regular basis.  If you document processes, instructions, and notes, there will be less confusion about what is expected for everyone.  Fewer misunderstandings will occur, projects will be completed correctly on the first try instead of the third-writing things down benefits everyone.  It’s important to note that unless the person on the spectrum was hired to take notes for everyone else, they should not be the ones providing this accommodation.  

Another common accommodation is providing positive or constructive feedback.  The mark of a good boss or supervisor is how they reward you for a job well done, or how well they give feedback.  For people on the spectrum, this includes being specific in your feedback, and when you ask questions.  When my boss asks me a broad question, they’re usually looking for a specific answer.  I would rather they just ask me a question about that specific topic, rather than trying to start a journey with me.  This saves time and cuts down on confusion.  Additionally, if giving positive or encouraging feedback needs to be an accommodation, something is wrong in your place of work.  

Finally, the accommodation that helps the most-splitting large projects into smaller steps.

Picture this: you’re given the task of developing a social media campaign for a new product.  You have a week to do it.  It’s a huge, overwhelming task.  However, if you split that large task into 20 smaller steps, it becomes easier.  Four small tasks a day isn’t too bad.  Before you know it, you’ve created a successful social media campaign.  I apply this to all of my school work and outside projects.  Think of it this way: in math class, all the steps are broken down and thoroughly explained so that everyone is on the same page.  Why not do the same for large projects?

Some other accommodations that help everyone include:

  • Working from home: your company now has a template on how to work during a pandemic
  • Color-coding systems: Who doesn’t love a splash of color?
  • Only assigning another project when the preceding one is finished-multi-tasking has been shown to not be beneficial.  I’m more likely to get one project done quickly if you don’t assign me two at once

If the barrier in the workplace is to be truly broken down, these simple, no-cost accommodations must be implemented for everyone.