ASD and workplace expectations for teenagers

In the workplace there are certain expectations that your boss will have of you and your co-workers. For a business to run efficiently it requires that people follow the rules and that everyone understands these rules and puts them into practice. For you as an employee with ASD this is of great help because rules provide structure and this will give you a framework to operate within. There are also a lot of unwritten rules that we are expected to know and these are often referred to as workplace etiquette.

Let’s have a look at some of these:


It is expected that you arrive at work on time, take your allocated breaks and return from breaks on time. If you are not able to go to work it is expected you will let your boss know that you won’t be there and the reason why.


Your ability to work with a team of co-workers, problem solving abilities and coping skills are necessary for success. As a person with ASD this may present challenges for you and it will be important for you to get some help with this if needed.

Interacting with other workers

It’s important to know that many people don’t wish to discuss religion, politics or finances at work as these topics can often cause conflicts due to many differing opinions.

Conversations on personal topics

It is important to be aware about personal topics such as race, sexual preferences or certain physical characteristics eg. person’s age, height or weight, as many people do not like to discuss these.


A mentor is a positive role model who can guide you to understand the job and support you. Your boss or line manager will often allocate you a mentor.

Social interactions

Remember to respect the need for personal space, do not stand too close to another person or start a conversation on an inappropriate subject. It is also okay to spend time alone rather than actively participating in social conversations in the workplace at every break.


As a person with ASD you may have a very literal understanding of language, this is a trait of your ASD and you may struggle to understand metaphors, idioms, irony and sarcasm eg. an expression like “get on your bike mate” can be taken literally and this can cause misunderstandings.


Often people with ASD can appear to be very blunt, rude or arrogant. Much of the workplace interactions relies upon impressions of people. This could be an area for you to discuss with your mentor so that you better understand your presentation.

As you can see the issues around workplace etiquette can be tricky. For you as a person with ASD these unwritten workplace rules can be managed if you discuss them with someone and put strategies in place to manage them.

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