Reasonable Adjustments

What are reasonable adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments are modifications or accommodations made to the place (environment), to the process (task), or to conditions (individual) to provide people with the necessary support to perform their roles at work, or to access services effectively.

  • Modifications to place might include soft lighting or quiet spaces
  • Modifications to the process might include longer appointment times or the provision of written instructions
  • Modifications to the individual conditions might include offering flexible working, extended breaks or the use of fidget toys.

When they are made in the workplace, such adjustments help level the playing field and remove barriers that may prevent employees from reaching their full potential.  They are intended to promote inclusivity, and to enable all staff to thrive.

Where reasonable adjustments are made by service providers, they help to create an environment in which all people can access things such as education, services, support and social activities without disadvantage, and allow everyone to participate fully in the opportunities available.

Why provide reasonable adjustments for neurodivergent people?

Around 1 in 7 people are neurodivergent – in North West London alone that’s more than 350,000 people.   Autistic / ADHD people have experience, skills, talents, and potential, but they experience barriers that can make it harder for them to work, or to go about their daily lives. 

There is a legal requirement, through the Equality Act 2010, on all organisations (such as businesses, health services, schools and charities etc) to made adjustments to the ways they carry out their business, to reduce the impact of these barriers. 

More than the legal requirement, though, there is a moral imperative to create a more inclusive and kind society, an economic advantage to ensuring everyone can contribute towards creating improved output, and a creativity bonus that arises from ensuring people from many different backgrounds and experiences can contribute towards decision making.

What sorts of things might reasonable adjustments include?

The important thing to consider when requesting or providing reasonable adjustments is that all individuals are unique, and therefore the reasonable adjustments they might need will also be unique.  It is not possible to just decide on one set of reasonable adjustments and hope that they will suit everyone. 

If you are an employer or a service provider, the first thing you should do is ask ADHD / autistic people what challenges they currently face when working at or accessing your organisation, and consult with them to gather insights on their experiences and needs.  You are unlikely to achieve perfect results the first-time round, so implement some adjustments, learn as you go, and continue to make improvements through consultation with ADHD / autistic people on an ongoing basis.

If you are a neurodivergent individual, you might not always be aware of what it is possible to ask for.  The below graphics give you some ideas of the types of reasonable adjustments that we know some of our clients have been able to request, in a range of settings.  These ideas are not exhaustive, and you can choose the ideas that you think would be most helpful for you.  Organisations might not be able to provide everything you ask for, as they are constrained by their own financial, operational and managerial capacity.  However, organisations should approach these conversations with goodwill, open communication, and empathy.

Ideas for reasonable adjustments in schools

  • Longer time for tests / other exam access arrangements
  • Visual aids (such as time out cards / toilet pass / go to front of lunch queue pass / visual timetables / visual labels around school)
  • Adapted seating plans (fixed seating, seating at the front of the classroom etc)
  • Assistive technology eg laptops, spell checkers, dictation software or support from a scribe / reader
  • Sensory breaks / provide a safe place to recharge
  • Movement breaks / use of fidget toys / ear defenders allowed in lessons
  • Adapted start / end times (of the school day, or of lesson times, to support transitions)
  • Reduced timetable / differentiated curriculum
  • Reduced sanctions / detentions etc for school infractions
  • Some home learning
  • Thoughtful selection of peers for group working
  • Modification of uniform (for sensory differences)

Barnado’s have created a wonderful document that gives lots of ideas for adjustments that schools can make to support pupils to achieve their potential at school. 

Ideas for reasonable adjustments when attending healthcare appointments

  • Longer appointment times
  • Quieter waiting rooms
  • Clear process for checking-in
  • Offer alternative forms of communication e.g. via text or email/ reminders of appointments
  • Follow-up with written communication of decisions taken / next steps
  • Easy read documents
  • Provision of / support for patient advocates
  • Offer use of fidget toys/ sensory aids
  • Trained staff who are -aware of specific needs of neurodivergent patients

Ideas for reasonable adjustments at work

  • Flexible working hours, regular or extended breaks
  • Quiet workspace or allowing use of headphones
  • Dimmable lighting,
  • Fixed workspaces rather than hot desks
  • Job coaching or mentoring
  • Provision of written instructions and clear communications (meeting with agendas, forward warning of significant changes etc)
  • Assistive technology such as text-to-speech, speech-to-text, meeting summarises etc.

This link here, from the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), has several ideas for things that might help make workplaces more accessible and supportive for neurodivergent people. 

What reasonable adjustments does CAAS offer?

We want everyone who can benefit from our services here at CAAS to be able to access them.   

We have created a document that shares some of the reasonable adjustments we can offer, and we would love to know if there is anything else we can do to make sure our services are as accessible as possible.

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