ASD & Changes in the Workplace

A friend of mine, who owns a visual effects company here in LA, mentioned she was having challenges with one of her employees accepting changes at the office. They were trying to streamline processes but he was resistant. He is talented and a good worker, so she didn’t want to lose him, but needed him to work with the changes. She thought he might be “on the spectrum”, so I offered the suggestions below.

I made these suggestions based on what works for me; how I work and what I like or dislike in the way I work. e.g. I do best in small team environments where I have control over my own organization, processes and routines. Having people mess with my processes or trying to define them for me can be a real deal killer.

Apparently, this helped. She was very excited at getting through to her employee and wanted me to post this so it might be useful for other managers and employers. I hope so too!


Process and routine can be very important for people with ASD, so they often react against change. Being able to define and follow your own process can be very important, keeping to it and not skipping steps. Skipping steps is very disturbing. But maybe he’ll come around if he has a chance to think it through and see that it’s OK. Or maybe if he feels ownership of making changes to his process, rather than it feeling like it is being imposed on him.

Another possibility is it’s common to think in complex, detailed systems, so arbitrary change tends to be resisted but if it can be understood and seen in the big picture, maybe that is easier to deal with. Figuring out the mechanics and the “why” of it can make it OK.

There is a degree to which you can not not notice details. This is great for detail oriented work where everything has to be precise but can be difficult and disturbing if you have to change something. Then you can’t help but notice the anomaly and just feel like something is “wrong”.

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