The cognitive profile of each adult on the spectrum is unique, and adaptations can be made in the workplace to compensate for the areas that may create anxiety, stress, and overall cognitive fatigue for the individual.
Many adults on the spectrum describe that they can focus on an area of interest for an extended period of time, and they often describe this as being ‘in the zone.’ However, if they are required to perform tasks that are out of their area of strengths, or of increasing complexity (holding information in working memory simultaneously), it is common to see sustained attention decrease over time. Errors will increase, processing speed will decrease, and the time required to perform the task will increase as sustained attention decreases. Adults on the spectrum report that their employers tell them to ‘just pay attention’ and to ‘work faster.’ Processing time will increase as the cognitive load increases, so it is essential to understand the underlying processes that the project requires. If the employee is more alert in the morning, they can tackle some of the tasks that need sustained attention in increments that are best suited to their cognitive style.