Before the internet, common knowledge or having a general awareness of life outside of streets I kicked a football around on, general worldly knowledge, for me was limited to what my parents and parents friends taught you or what you heard on the 2/3 channels on the TV or from the few national Radio stations.
The first time I heard about autism (ASD) was when I watched the fantastic nineties film, Rain Man staring the legendary Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise playing brothers, Raymond & Charlie Babbitt with Raymond being autistic (ASD) and his younger brother Charlie playing the role of a slick, fast talking, fast buck street hustler.
Cutting the story short, Charlie becomes the sole legal guardian of Raymond and the film revolves around the relationship between the two polar opposite brothers, whilst revealing, granted in a very Hollywood storyline (it is a film after all) some of the challenges of autism (ASD).
Today, with access to so much more information, the awareness of autism (ASD) along with other aspects of spectrum disorders has greatly increased but undoubtedly still has a long way to go. As a working adult with autism, one of the personal questions that is almost always considered is:
Should I disclose I have autism at an interview, or to my current employer or to my work colleagues?
Firstly, there is no requirement for people to disclose to their employer they have Autism (ASD) or indeed to disclose any other related spectrum disorder. For many, opening up about being on the spectrum isn’t something people feel comfortable with, which is more than OK.
The unfortunate reality is that for every one inclusive workplace, there are thousands of businesses that don’t have inclusive work cultures.
I certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to disclose their autism if they feel it may cost them their job or make them feel uncomfortable at work.
Having ASD myself and drawing on my own experiences and those of others, I honestly believe that if you are surrounded by genuine people, people who respect, care and want to take the time to get to know you and understand you, opening up and disclosing your ASD has huge benefits for you and for your fellow work colleagues and friends.
Before deciding to disclose your autism, I think it’s important to look at your workplace conditions and culture as a whole. Are people of colour marginalised, are women treated equally, are people with disabilities made to feel inclusive. Is there an open, safe, kind and welcoming culture where a “people first” culture exists.
If you had to ask me if I would have disclosed my status upfront, perhaps at interview stage? No. For this job and anything prior that I interviewed for, I would NOT have disclosed at that initial stage. Why? Because no matter how understanding an interviewer may be, autism and social skills do not immediately associate with each other in the common person’s mind. Rudeness, bluntness, social awkwardness and other unbecoming traits are associated with us. We aren’t associated with being a “team player”. Which would rule us out.
This is a BIG topic to write about so i’ll end it here, for now.
See your sunrise.