Signs of Autism in Adults at Work


Many adults with autism go on to live happy and productive lives. In fact, it’s likely that you work with at least one person on the spectrum—you just might not know it. Maybe that person seems a little different or has quirks you just don’t understand. This can make working with them a bit more challenging, but if you better understand how autism works, you may be able to relate to them better.

Signs of Autism in the Workplace

Here are a few signs of autism in adults that you can watch for at work.

  • Repetitive Behaviors
    We all have that one coworker who likes to have things organized in a very specific way or consistently bounces their leg and rattles the entire workstation. These repetitive behaviors often come across as personality quirks, but they could also be signs of autism in adults. Those behaviors provide people with autism with an outlet and help them better cope with distractions, noises, and social stimuli that make them uncomfortable.
  • Difficulty Socializing
    For many people with autism, social interactions are incredibly difficult. They don’t understand conversational cues, sarcasm, or facial expressions that people who aren’t on the spectrum rely on without realizing it. If you have a coworker who tends to keep to themselves or has trouble following conversations, they could be on the spectrum. Instead of avoiding them, try to include them in conversations and social activities. Just be patient and know that they may not contribute in the same way as your other coworkers.
  • Limited Interests
    Many people with autism have certain areas and subjects that they find absolutely fascinating…to the exclusion of other things. If you know someone who can talk at length about a single subject but struggles to talk about something as simple as what they did that weekend, they could be on the spectrum.
  • Struggles with Teamwork
    Teamwork is an integral part of most modern workplaces. For adults with autism, this can pose a huge challenge. Teamwork doesn’t always come naturally. They often prefer to work on their own or will find a task within the team’s scope to focus on alone. They’re not trying to be rude—they just aren’t comfortable working in a team setting where they can’t control the tasks or have to deal with subtle social nuances.
  • Overly Sensitive to Sounds
    Adults with autism can be sensitive to sounds that others find normal or can barely hear. This makes it tough for them to concentrate at work without headphones, earmuffs, or music playing in the background. If your coworker often complains about ambient noise, even when the office is quiet, they could fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Adults with Autism Can Still Work

Working with adults with autism is a lot like working with any other person. You just need to understand their personalities and identify the things they do best. If you notice these signs of autism in adults at your workplace, don’t panic. People with autism and learning disabilities are still great people, and they can be wonderful coworkers too. Get to understand what makes them unique and do your best to work together.

Learn More

Learn more about autism spectrum disorder by contacting our office today.