Employment and the Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Sensory Considerations for Assessment and Employment

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Implications to ASD

Individuals with an ASD often experience sensory sensitivities to the environment that can cause great discomfort and stress. The resulting responses and reactions can be difficult for others to understand. Sensitivities may intensify in situation such as:

  • Transition to new environments or people
  • Changes in schedules or routine
  • Unexpected work deadlines
  • Illness, sleep disturbance or difficulties outside of the workplace

Sensory sensitivities may result in a person seeking out the input they crave or actively avoiding input they do not like. These resulting responses and reactions can be difficult for coworkers and peers to understand unless there are given information about sensory processing and how it can impact a person’s ability to function throughout the day.

When considering an individual's preferred work environment, a transition team will need to consider all possibilities of work for an individual using person centered thinking. This means the team must consider the person’s sensory needs and preferences. Consider a variety of options to determine where work, or continued learning, will be the most successful within a room, building and/or community. Identify the sensory experiences and input that will enhance the work and those that may need to be modified or removed to allow the individual to perform at her best.

There are a variety of tools that may be helpful to uncover important information about sensory needs. Consider reviewing the tools below or search keywords or phrase such as: sensory profile, sensory evaluation, proprioceptive, interoception, or sensory motor profile.

Sensory Assessment Checklist
Autism Education Trust- National Autism Standards, supported by the Department for Education. Assessment is based on the sensory profile checklist form Bogdashina, 2003 and included in the IDP autism spectrum. Mark those that apply and then consider which teaching staff need to know this information. When possible, complete this in discussion with the parents or caregivers and the youth

Sensory Diet Exploration: Activity Checklist
Checklist considers movement, different types of touch and temperature, auditory/ listening, vision/looking, olfactory/smelling, gustatory/tasting/chewing. Transition teams can consider the subtopics when working with youth/adults to help decrease and/ or prevent distress of numerous environments.

Autism Internet Modules (AIM)
Sensory Differences Module focuses on the senses and sensory difference that may be present in persons with ASD and how they may impact their day-to-day performance.

Assistive Technology (AT) Kit - OCALI Lending Library
OCALI Lending Library Sensory Kits is designed to provide both low-tech and mid-tech solutions to a variety of sensory needs in all environments, including sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviors.

Sensory Profile Adolescents/ Adults by Winnie Dunn
Self- Questionnaire and to obtain information about everyday sensory experience and the impact on behavior in different settings. Assessment should be administered by professional.

OT- Innovations.com
Sensory Assessment for Adolescent & Adults Search list includes a sampling of assorted occupational therapy sensory- related assessment tools and checklists appropriate of use with adolescent and adult populations.

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