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Autism Friendly Environments

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Small changes can make Big differences. Please have a look to see what you can do

#autism

It frustrates me when I know that people can make small changes that can make a big difference to autistic people.

Yes I am generalising of course and everyone on the spectrum is different , sometimes very different, however I do believe in some fundamental things that many people can do very easily.

People are busy and if you are reading this  you are half way there to making a change. Yes motivation is a huge factor and that is what the challenge is? How do I make you think, yes I could do that easily with little cost to me in either money , time or energy.  There are these things called ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ a term you may have heard and below are the top 10 things that a group of autistic adults believe that are important to them. For neurotypicals working and wanting to support autistic people these should be a given as standard not just reasonable.

No presumptions, everyone is different -Find out about how a person’s autism affects them. A few questions about what a person prefers can stop any problems later.

Ways of communication -Communicate in ways the person knows best. Verbal conversation may be best as some body language may be difficult to read.

Clear unambiguous language used -Clear precise language used with no confusing terminology (literal meanings). Give only the information needed.

Routines/structures the same -Use structures rather than open ended arrangements to avoid uncertainty. If someone has some rigid routines they follow, try to work with these.

Noise -Try to minimize any unnecessary noise, such as equipment which may make a noise. A quiet environment is best.

Sensory environment -Make sure the environment is not disruptive, avoiding sensory overload. Remember all senses e.g. smell or touch.

Enough time -Give time for people to process the information given to them. Be patient and wait for a response.

Ways to ‘escape’ -Always ensure the person knows they can leave if they are getting stressed and where they can escape to. For example, a quieter less busy area.

Coping strategies -Some people may have coping strategies that they use in stressful situations – Please find out these.

Same people – A consistent approach is always best, seeing the same professional, going to the same place etc. If not possible please discuss any change.

Now I want to give you some simple ways you can change the environment to make it more autism friendly.

Using the Checklist for Autism- Friendly Environments (see link https://www.southwestyorkshire.nhs.uk/services/autism/#service-about  I have been able to gather some common themes and simple changes you could make.

  1. Ask the autistic person in front of you about the environment you are in. It costs nothing and don’t presume that if you are ok that they will be.
  2. Ticking Clocks – Replace with non ticking or digital
  3. Get adjustable lighting that can dim or purchase a dimmer lamp for a few pounds
  4. Do not rush
  5. Always let people know they can leave
  6. De Clutter- A very easy thing to do that you were always were going to get round to do. To ‘busy’ visual stimuli can be distracting.
  7. Tell people to be themselves- Many people with autism have masked some of their behaviours to fit in. Make sure the autistic person knows that with you it doesn’t matter about eye contact , about flapping for example. Its a safe place.
  8. Pastel colours. You may like bright orange that reminds you of that great summer holiday in Barcelona however  too vibrant colours can be scary. A lick of paint is a simple low cost fix.
  9. Get your signage right- Make sure that sign that fell off the wall in 1972 telling you the way out goes back up.
  10. Check temperature- Again just because you are ok it does not mean the autistic person is. If sensitive to temperature the person will not be able to focus. Just Ask.

These are just 10 simple changes that can be made. There are plenty more I am sure so if you you wish to leave a comment. Leave a simple change suggestion why don’t  you. Its easy.

 Stephen

 

Edited on October 05, 2018 - 7:25pm