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sensory friendly

What's an Autism-Competent Office?

The organization and layout of an office can make a big difference when it comes to the success of a medical appointment.

Environments with tight spaces, and lots of noise and/or people are challenging for all patients, but especially those with the sensory issues that come with being autistic.

Some of the physical characteristics of an autism-competent clinical office or hospital include:

  • Fewer bright lights

  • A neat, orderly appearance, without too many magazines, video screens, or decorations

  • Quiet music and overhead sounds or none at all

  • Fewer smells from cleaning products or disinfectants

  • Calm neutral colors, keeping any areas of bright color to a minimum

  • Easy access to electrical outlets for keeping devices charged

  • Socially distanced seating

  • A quiet room or space separate from the waiting area


A guide to share with providers to help them create an office space that's better for everyone

Download Resource

An autism-competent office or hospital offers more than one way to communicate between patients and staff. These may include:

  • Email

  • Online scheduling and access to medical records (also known as patient portals)

  • Texting

  • Phone calls and voicemail

  • A tablet or communication board for use during an appointment

Our Clinician Course, Clinical Care for Autistic Adults, gives healthcare providers advice on how to create autism-competent spaces and train clinical staff to better serve the needs of autistic patients. The downloadable tip sheet can help patients to advocate for autism-competent care while directing clinicians on how to best provide that care.

An innovative example of autism-competent, neurodiverse healthcare can be found at All Brains Belong, a medical practice that takes a “whole life” approach.

Animation: What's an autism-competent medical office look like?