How Could the World Be More Autism Friendly

Those who know me, and the readers who’ve followed long enough, are well aware that I like to focus on the positive. My last post was not the happiest because life has been hard and it is wearing on me.

We’ve been having conversations in the comments on this site and on Twitter. Talking about all of the problems and hardships Autistic people face in the world. In general I feel like focusing on your problems all the time can be a very dangerous thing. Shifting our attention to solutions tends to be much more effective.

Today I would like to write about my dream world – a world that is more friendly to Autistic people. Maybe some day, long after I am gone, it will be a reality.

It is a beautiful place, where there are always quiet spaces to get away when you need a private moment.  Every light switch has control for the light level and temperature, because everyone’s brain needs different lighting. (I like red-ish light and can not handle bright white, blue, or green). Natural light is used whenever possible and working from home is always an option.

In the place of my dreams you are always aloud to carry a laptop for notes, people don’t mind sending instructions via email, or handing everything over in writing. People wouldn’t call last minute meetings and would stop insisting on phone calls when an email is a perfectly acceptable form of communication.

Work schedules would be more predictable and people would not ask you to stay late for extra tasks at the last minute. (I just need to know when something is over – so I can conserve the perfect amount of energy.) Shifts could start at the same time every day and end at the same time every day (when you have insomnia one night working till midnight can throw off your entire week when you normally wake up early.)

Job descriptions would be more accurate so it is easier for us to determine in advance if we are qualified for a task. Employees would have input when job descriptions change and would be able to turn down new tasks that don’t suit their natural abilities.

Multitasking is a word that would disappear in my new world. Focusing on one thing at a time and doing it perfectly is far more efficient than doing several things at a time half-assed and in a rush. People would stop rushing you, and asking “can you multitask” in interviews – since most people don’t truly multitask very well even without Autism (even when they THINK they do).

Windows in large buildings could actually be opened so fresh air could be allowed in. Offices would have space for people who get cold easy and people who get hot easy so everyone could be comfortable.

Regular breaks would be encouraged and standing desks and exercise ball chairs would be more widely available so people don’t have to sit stagnate all day. Employers would stop valuing their employees based on how many hours a week they work and would focus more on dedication the quality of work turned in.

Office politics would disappear and work ethic would have more value than who’s ass you kiss. “Optional” work functions would really be optional (meaning your boss would never make comments like – “You weren’t at the last 3 office happy hours.” If something is necessary for a job it would be explicit not implied. If the happy hours are mandatory they should just say so.

Most importantly in this perfect new world everyone understands and accepts Autistic people. We don’t have to depend on unhealthy coping mechanisms like “passing”. Nobody expects us to act like everyone else.

It is a dream I have, a magical world. Some day I hope the world becomes more Autism friendly.


31 thoughts on “How Could the World Be More Autism Friendly”

  1. I love reading your posts as they give me an insight into my sons mind and feelings. As he’s only young he can’t always explain how he feels especially when stressed or under pressure. I think a lot of workplaces could benefit from the changes you describe and all people would work better, happier and more productive. Thank you for your posts and allowing me a better understanding and family relationship.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “As he’s only young he can’t always explain how he feels especially when stressed or under pressure.”
      I’m old, I have 2 doctorates, but it’s only through this blog that I’ve been able to understand things about myself, let alone be able to express them — how can you express what you don’t even understand? So yes, Claire, I echo your comment!

      Liked by 5 people

  2. And, yes, the world of your dreams is more flexible and accommodative. We are, indeed, not all alike. And yet in another sense it would help if we understood where we are alike if only in bits and pieces. In a recent post you mentioned some of the things which are either troublesome or characteristic of autistic people And what I saw were elements I shared even though I have not been “diagnosed”. We all share characteristics and are more forgiving when we understand that.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. As I was reading through this, I started thinking, “A lot of these changes would be good for everybody!” This really hit me in the section on multitasking. As most people age, their abilities to multitask decline, I believe, but that is replaced by a greater depth of knowledge with greater focus. I love the natural light and fresh air parts too! So many of our office buildings, and now schools for children lack these things!

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Mostly, you’ve written about the perfect workplace. It may be time to ask the questions: Am I working in the best environment for my needs? Could a different job offer more accommodations? Just some strategies that I find useful from time to time. I hope things improve continuously.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Most of these things are the biggest reasons to not work in IT. I’ve been in the field for 17 years and I hate having people assault me wanting things. I did love building data centers, due to it requiring a very structured routine.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your blog has helped me understand autism much better. Your suggestions here sound like they would help improve the work place for everyone. And I’m glad you included a photo of one of the beautiful places on the planet, Bow Lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Having been there many times, I can say that scene does represent a relaxing state of mind. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Blinkie Frustrations and commented:

    This is what autism friendly workplace sounds like to me.
    Those places can exist; maybe this world needs more autistic managers and workgroups where we have blind and deaf people so we’ll all have to learn more about communication, and how it cannot simply be all that reading between the lines of use of facial expressions, tones of voice, unspoken and unwritten messages…

    If I’ll work in a paid environment again, it’ll have to be autism friendly. My home is autism friendly, and the offices should be too. For workgroups, they’ll just either have to be mostly composed of men, or of people with a lot of variety so that the female-typical in-person communication methods won’t be the dominating communication styles.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Anna,
    Your positive attitude comes through, again😇
    Unfortunately or not, I’ve sided long ago with Bob Dylan’s
    “my sense of humanity has gone down the drain,
    Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain”
    being of his unpopular opinion, namely “It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin’ there.”
    From my perspective, an “autism friendly world” is kind of an oximoron from several angles.
    First, the world as we know it has never been friendly. It’s been made “narrowly and/or pragmatically friendly” by a self-selected few, for their own use. For the rest of us, it’s just the calculus of an equation we weren’t there when it was drafted for us, together with what has come to be called “charities”, basically institutions of mercy, asking for your “spare change” in a socially acceptable way, while the real resources are there… No offence intended…
    Second, autism’s only friendly world -if looked into it with sufficient honesty- is the world of one’s self, perfect and sufficient.
    Thirdly, the world in its PC social acceptance, has become the sociological shared nightmare of billions, a conglomerate of individuals which have long lost the meaning of “individualism”, unfortunately mostly ignorant about the true World they live upon, the habitat more than sufficient should anyone mind their own privacy and private business. No worries, I’m not going to further engage in why I believe that the small, self-sufficient communities of autonomous individuals engaging with each other on a “needs and choices” basis, mostly lost nowadays, would be the ideal choice…
    And yes, I absolutely understand the need for “sitz im leben” solutions to our individually autistic “problems” which are problems from the “world’s” perspective not mine, but please, allow me to need not the “world’s” friendliness. I don’t need its friendship. I only need it accommodates my needs, my perspective, my choices, myself. And I know some readers might say, “why does he make such a fuss, it’s not about semantics…” I must disagree, because as a linguist, I am convinced that it was a profound loss of respect for semantics which brought the world where it is. Friendliness subtly implies some sort of favour, while accommodating implies obligations.
    I want the world to accommodate my autistic individualism, as much as it demands me accommodating its sociology. It took me over half of a century to accept that I have rights in this “world” not only obligations, and these rights are inalienable in their own right, in no need of anyone’s favour…
    I hope I haven’t offended or upset anyone, it wasn’t at all my intention, I have just respectfully expressed my highly individualistic view(s).

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Anna, I usually read all your posts but like you wrote in your last one at times life is too overwhelming. I refuse to open post, emails & messages in fear of more bad news or more things I need to do. I think what I would like to say is your posts are really helpful & inspirational, you do not need to respond to everyone or anyone in fact. We simply are thankful for sharing your thoughts and appreciate your time put into the posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Explains my current career. I’ve gone from academic anthropologist to truck mechanic. I love the natural lighting when I’m working outside, the wind that rushes through our garage, the natural smells that waft by, the regular start time and predictability of repairs, and the working alone

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I used to think ‘Happy Hour’ was sex. 🙂 That was how naïve I was as a young man. Also, I never knew that a ‘Carry Out’ was Alcoholic Drink until I went to Uni. Always thought it meant takeaways. Too long living in my bedroom. 🙂

    My Psychiatrist yesterday made me feel extremely uncomfortable with awkward questions she asked me yesterday. I’ll speak to my Occupational Therapist about it today.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your dream world sounds like a lovely place. Even if it might take ages until any of this comes true, I hope and believe we can all take part in creating it (you’ve already started by putting your ideas out there for example).

    Liked by 1 person

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