Posted by: jofarmer | July 1, 2020

Accessing the Autistic Skill set 4. Reviews and Reflection Part 1

Performance reviews and any review can be stressful for anyone, most of us would agree, even when confidence levels are good and are essential to companies. For many autistic people they can be really stressful based on life experiences. These could include criticism for autistic traits, including behaviours, expressing yourself and other interactions including outbursts due to stress.

Add to this the nerves kicking in, trying to work out what is meant by what is said, what you are meant to say back, trying to remember it, so it can be noted later. We, as autistic people can have issues with short term working memory. Everything it seems is expected to take place in one meeting. You and the manager. Even with trusted managers this can be hard. Then you are told your meeting notes are not correct and you misunderstood something.

Further meetings have not always bee encouraged or considered necessary with me in the past leading to confusion, lack of trust in management and lack of clarity of areas where performing well or necessary improvement. The consequences were major, for me destroying my confidence, and the company losing my skills and active input as I felt unable to communicate with management.

Good review systems done well will lead to mutual trust and respect, leading to good relations and good performance. Lose the trust of the employees and you lose a lot of potential talent, it is hard to regain.

I will discuss some approaches which may help. More effort may be required, but boy, it can be worth it to open up our Pandora’s box of skills.

  1. Representation

It may be normal practice to have a 1 to 1 talk with your line manager, and all to go well with the process. However it might be helpful to have a person to support the autistic person at reviews (or indeed any other important meeting). This could be a Union Representative, Human Resources representative or someone from a charity like the National Autistic Society. Someone who hopefully knows the person, who can clarify any questions and responses and keep the autistic person calm and able to explain any issues. Immediate responses may not be given as time may be needed to process the answer then express it.

2. Advance information

Where possible it might be helpful to provide information on the questions and issues to be discussed in advance. This will enable forward preparation, on the areas to be raised, and collation of information to address this. An interim report might be considered here from the Line Manager to help with complete responses.

3. Recording the information during the meeting

Reviews will often involve long talks, verbally. This can be hard to some so discussing how feedback is preferred is very useful. Thus providing advance information. Trying to discuss and remember everything, when it is verbal can be hard to filter.

Why might this be? We are consciously filtering out information, I do not read body language easily, concentrating on the words more. I therefore lose/totally misunderstand some of the message. I then need to write it all down ASAP! This requires concentration and I may not always look fully engaged. Having someone to help with making notes at the time will reduce stress and ensure accurate records.

Possibly, more importantly, it will ensure full confidence in the Review Process where confidence has previously been lost. I have experienced that, adversely affecting the success of the process as I have felt I was not trusted or respected, and that management write ups were not accurate.

4. Feedback on performance and Reflection time

It should be agreed how the feedback is wanted and how this will be done. Long meetings, verbally given information can be hard to process and retain and may require reflection time. Written reports may help as it will allow for processing of information at leisure.

Please still remember once you have met person with autism, you have met one person with autism. We are all different. This is based on my experience. We want to do well in companies. Consider how best to conduct reviews and we will really shine.

I hope this has helped, look out for the next information on Reviews.


  1. Another really helpful blog. One thing I’ve thought, and this blog supports it, is that the kinds of things that will help one person who is autistic, or neurodiverse, would also help others, whether they are neurodiverse or not. So: being given information in advance, having an opportunity to take notes during long verbal conversations (or someone to support you with note taking), being given time for reflection and follow-up. All of these sound like good practices to offer to anyone going through some kind of performance review.

    Liked by 1 person

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