5 Ways to Know if Your Coworker is Autistic

5 Ways to Know if Your Coworker is Autistic

Many adults with autistic spectrum disorder live successful, productive, and fulfilled life.

In fact, many autistic individuals exhibit extraordinary talents, making them highly valuable employees and coworkers.

Although they may experience difficulties, they work as hard as non-autistic people and can blend well in a work environment.

Nonetheless, If you want to know if your coworker is autistic, there are certain signs you can look out for.

For one, adults with autism often display repetitive behaviors and interests.

Your co-worker may be autistic if they portray repetitive behaviors, including adherence to strict routines, insistence on sameness, obsessive interests, fidgeting, and so on.

Likewise, people with autism often have difficulties socializing and forming relationships in any social environment.

An autistic coworker might find it challenging to follow social rules, understand facial expressions, communicate with people, and understand the concept of personal space.

In addition, your co-worker might be autistic if they are overly sensitive to sensory stimulations.

They might struggle with working with noise or find certain smells offensive.

You can support your autistic co-worker by noting their sensory differences and offering help where you can.

Read on to learn five ways to know if your coworker is autistic: 

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Derek Bonds, LPC

Derek Bonds, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Rebecca Johnson, LPCC, NCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Felicia Gray, MS, LPC

Felicia Gray, MS, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Jacquelynne Sils, LPC

Jacquelynne Sils, LPC

Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Deb Corbitt, LPC

Deb Corbitt, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Susan Taylor, LPCC

Susan Taylor, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424

Repetitive Interests 

One of the ways to know if your coworker is autistic is by taking note of their behavioral pattern.

If your coworker likes to follow the same daily routine, arranges things a certain way, or performs repetitive movements, they may be autistic.

Although repetitive behaviors can be a characteristic of other developmental problems, it is also a symptom common among autistic people.

An autistic adult may exhibit repetitive behaviors in a workplace by asking questions repeatedly.

When people with autism go through stress, experience difficulty expressing themselves, or find it hard to understand something, they often result to asking the same questions repeatedly.

Also, if your coworker develops anxiety or stress even at the slightest change in schedule, they might be autistic.

People with autism have a strict adherence to order and routines and may not do well with sudden changes.

In addition, autistic people often develop repetitive behaviors as a way to cope with noise, stress, unpredictability, social stimulations, and distractions that might make them uncomfortable.

Usually, this repetitive behavior doesn't affect other people working with them.

Awkward Socialization With Coworkers

Many people with autism struggle with interacting with others in a social setting.

They often misunderstand and misinterpret conversation cues, facial expressions, and body language, making it difficult to relate to people.

Thus, one way to know if your coworker is autistic is if they have difficulty socializing.

While having a conversation with an autistic person, they might show absent-mindedness or have trouble following discussions.

Although this habit may not affect their ability to do their job, it may affect their relationship with other coworkers.

Similarly, autistic people may find it difficult to understand social rules(if they are not based on logic), tell a lie, show empathy, understand sarcasm, keep eye contact and understand the complexities of inter-personal work relationships.

As a co-worker, you can provide support by including your autistic co-worker in social activities and small talk.

Although they might not contribute as much as others, they will gradually gain the courage to interact with other people.

Lack of Interest in Common Subjects 

While other coworkers might show interest in certain social events, subjects, or topics of discussion, an autistic person may show little or no interest.

They often have special interests they focus on, so they might have difficulty relating to other things outside their interests.

Thus, one way to know if your coworker is autistic is when they have limited interests.

Do you have that one coworker that can talk about a particular subject all day but knows nothing about other things?

If that rings a bell, you might have an autistic coworker.

When an autistic person develops an obsessive interest in a subject, they often find it difficult to learn about other things or diverge.

Likewise, because many autistic people follow strict routines, they usually show little or no interest in trying new activities.

They may turn down invitations to work dinners or social events at work if they are mandatory.

When working with autistic people, it is important to note that they may not readily socialize with those with whom they have nothing in common.

The best way to relate to an autistic co-worker outside work is to discuss shared interests.

Hyper-Sensitivity to Certain Stimuli 

Autistic people often experience sensory problems making them overly sensitive to various stimulations, including sound, temperature, light, taste, and so on.

These characteristics, however, can make it difficult for them to be productive in overstimulated environments.

Thus, one way to know if your co-worker is autistic is if they adversely react to certain stimulations.

If your work environment sometimes gets busy and noisy and your co-worker constantly seems to complain or become anxious, they might be autistic.

Likewise, in a quiet work environment, an autistic person may need to listen to music using earmuffs or headphones to aid concentration.

Similarly, autistic adults often show sensitivity to certain odors.

They may avoid people with unfamiliar scents, crowded places, or even work cafeterias.

Because they have a discriminatory sense of smell, they tend to perceive certain smells a lot stronger than other non-autistic people.

In addition, sensory differences in autistic persons can mean an inability to process too much information.

It might be difficult for your autistic co-worker to understand a concept if too many details are given at once.

Thus, when relating with them at work, you might want to break down details and avoid information overload.

Struggles to Work in a Team

One of the ways to know if your coworker is autistic is if they struggle with teamwork.

For most modern workplaces, the ability to cooperate and work with others is an important skill every employee must possess.

However, for autistic individuals in a work environment, this can be a challenge.

For one, most autistic adults prefer to work alone.

If included in a team, they will likely select a task within the team's scope to work on independently.

Although they prefer to do their task separately, they work as productively as every other team member.

Likewise, many autistic individuals don't do well in team events.

They tend to avoid uncontrollable environments and may turn down an invitation to attend a mandatory team hangout.

Just like introverts, people with autism may prefer solitude in a work environment.

It doesn't mean they are rude or incapable of doing their job.

If your coworker cannot work efficiently in a team, endeavor to ask them for ways to make them more comfortable with other team members and the working environment. 

Conclusion

Working with an autistic person is usually not difficult.

By understanding their sensory differences, social preferences, personalities, and work methods, you can support your autistic co-worker and develop a good work relationship with them.

You can know if your co-worker is autistic if they are hypersensitive to certain stimuli, have limited interests, experience difficulty socializing, and show repetitive behaviors. 

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July 21st, 2024

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