Working with Disability: Understanding Autism

Working with Disability: Understanding Autism


In this installment in our series on disabilities we are looking at gaining an understanding of what Autism is, how it affects those who are on the spectrum and what aids are available to them.  


As defined by; Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition which affects the brain’s growth and development. It is a lifelong condition, with symptom that appear in early childhood.

What can autism look like for someone:

  • Challenges with communication and interacting with others
  • Repetitive and different behaviours, moving their bodies in different ways
  • Strong interest in one topic or subject
  • Unusual reactions to what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste
  • Preference for routines and dislike change
  • Autism can affects the way that individuals interact with others and how they experience the world around them.

Understanding that the spectrum is incredibly diverse and effects each person in different ways allows incredible technology to be created to assist with areas that need work. The technologies that are available for those with autism are broken down into three distinct categories;

Low or Lite tech: Any communication system that does not require a power source.

Mid tech: Any communication system that requires a source of power and is very easy to program.  Might require some level of training to adequately program and maintain the device.

High tech: Any communication system that requires a power source and extensive training to competently program and maintain the device. High tech devices incorporate sophisticated electronics or computers.

A fantastic resource which provides a hub for applications made for those on the spectrum is AppyAutism.


This app allows the visitor to the website to locate apps based on Operating system, category and device to enhance communication abilities and learning. Through these very simple apps they can create a new lease on life especially for those who are not able to verbally communicate. 

Through gaining an understanding of autism, what it can look like and how to encourage and enrich the lives of people living with it, we can create a much more harmonious and inclusive workplace environment for all.