Hi fellow people.
I'm looking for work and have decided to test the waters and disclose my diagnosis to prospective employers. I figure if I'm honest about how I work, what my strengths and weaknesses are in relation to ASD and they decide not to hire me, it's probably for the best anyway. I'm tired of being in the wrong job because I'm not the preppy, engaging socialite they wanted (the unspoken and hidden rule I find frustrating) but not required for the actual job role.
I was wondering what your experiences are. Did you discuss your diagnosis at the interview/after getting the job? How did you go about it? What traits did you highlight and why? How far do you go with honesty?
And more importantly.....how well was this information received? Did you regret it?
Thanks in advance for your feedback.
I have disclosed my diagnosis to my current employer, but I received my diagnosis shortly after getting the job, so I had nothing to disclose at the interview stages.
The only reason I told my employer was on the advice of a Psychiatrist and that I am struggling with shutdowns and other problems as a result.
My experience has been mixed in this instance in that I have only told those who have to know (senior manager/HR) and they are struggling to understand what it is all about. Occupational Health have been involved on two occasions now and their feedback is they 'just don't get it and expect me to take a pill and it all goes away'.
My boss is sometimes understanding but other times can be hard on me and it is usually when I need the support the most. I find people struggle to grasp that some days I can cope with things, but other days I can't and if the 'natural order' of the office is disturbed in even the slightest way, this sends my anxiety into over drive. My boss just thinks I am being negative or over reacting.
It can be a roller coaster, but like you say, it is better to work with someone who is willing to accept you and also work with you.
I can totally relate to this. It’s like I am no longer able to tolerate ‘passing’, just to please others, so this question has come up for me recently.
I love what you said about the fact that, if you didn’t get hired on the basis of autism, it is probably not the right job.
I’m getting a feeling, that if it is the right job, we will disclose our diagnosis because, how could we not. That’s how I feel anyway. I don’t want to hide it but I want to feel safe enough to disclose it and I don’t think I can even consider a job where I don’t feel safe to be me. Maybe I’ve been ‘passing’ for too long, but I can no longer tolerate being anybody but me.
I’m looking more towards self employment but in the meantime, while I get that set up, the job centre are pushing me to get a job. I said I was worried about disclosing or not disclosing my diagnosis, and they said they’d work with me to find the right job for me and that I would be encouraged and supported to disclose my diagnosis and that they wouldn’t support me into a job that wasn’t right for me.
The thing is, I need help to work out what my strengths etc are and what my weaknesses are and therefore, what job would suit me. When I did open up to my work coach (she’s been really supportive and has worked with people with autism in a previous job, for 7 years, so she said she knew the signs, and how to work with me), so when I opened up today, she just looked at me, and said, you need help! Lol!
She said the first thing we need to do is get me the help I need, so she said she wanted me to do only one thing this week, in terms of my job search commitment, and she said I needed to phone my psychiatrist and find out when my next appointment is or make my next appointment with him. He is only giving me monthly support and she said I need weekly support, and that if he can’t offer that, we need to find out who can.
I’m not even sure what I said to her, but she reckons I need help, and I agree. I’d be ok if I could just go to work, do my job, and not have to deal with people, but that doesn’t seem possible, and she thinks I’m not ready to be dealing with people at all. This is what I had been thinking, and I never said that to her, but whatever I said, that is how she interpreted it.
I’ve been in shut down/burn out, for the last 12 months, and I’m beginning to realise why it’s so hard to come out of it. It’s because I’m no longer willing, by any stretch of the imagination, to live as someone else anymore. Which means, I really am ‘starting again’, in many ways, and of course I’m going to need some help with that, this is all new to me. And the way things are transpiring, it’s like with every ‘failure’ or failed attempt to get me back on track, comes a new realisation, and it’s like I’m being forced into being me, by being unable to be someone else.
I find it hard to ask for help, and even harder to even know what help I need, but the way my life is playing out, it’s like situations are arising that present the help I need, without me verbally asking for it or I’ve been guided to it through desperation.
I called a benefits/advocacy support group a couple of days ago, to see if they could help me, as I was getting freaked out with the whole job centre thing, and they said they will help me get the benefits I need, as well as the support I need, to be able to overcome the obstacles, that are in my way, that I didn’t put there. The woman I spoke to sounded amazing and that she’s going to figure out the best person to help me. She said I’m not alone in my situation, she has come across it before and they have one person in my local area, who they have supported, with ASD, and she’s put me in touch with him. More as a way of inspiration I think or maybe just to talk to him, to see if he can offer any advice etc.
She made me realise that I don’t have to settle for less than I deserve. So this is making me think about work in a whole new light, but for now, for me, it’s more about creating the routines I need in my life, to function at my best, or at a level I can sustain, while exploring what my strengths and weaknesses are and my traits, to discover what is going to work best for me. I used to bring home, on average, £1000 a week, and although I can’t or don’t want to go back to my previous work, I’m not going to accept a low paid part time job that I can just about cope with, just to satisfy the job centre or whatever. And it seems like my work coach is on my side.
Let us know how you get on. I’ll be really interested to find out how it goes, as well as hearing other people’s experience of disclosing or not disclosing their diagnosis. I realise few people understand it at all. They think they know, but they don’t.
Starbuck said:Occupational Health have been involved on two occasions now and their feedback is they 'just don't get it and expect me to take a pill and it all goes away'.
It seems that is quite typical... Several people seem to have got that sort of reactions. When I told one in UK that a counsellor had suggested ASD he said there's nothing wrong with me and it will all work out (maybe because I had told him that I don't drink and his specialist area is alcohol problems in the workplace). Later, after being sacked, I told them about the diagnosis I had got by then and suddenly he hadn't suggested at all that this can't be the case and he said this would of course best be left to experts... Now I've been to an OH doctor in Norway (everybody got sent there) and wanted to ask what they think about this, disclosing or not, and if so how and just generally if they had some advice perhaps. There was also a questionnaire where I listed mental health issues (which are all related to this last job) and ASD. The doctor completely ignored all of this and told me I'm very healthy except for some indication of a mild urinary infection which I really should get checked again in a week (it turned out everybody has this, so the instrument probably wasn't clean). She repeated this at least 5 times. I tried to ask about the head stuff but she totally refused to go anywhere near it. She just said "ah I don't understand what makes you anxious". The language was a bit of an issue too, but I think the biggest barrier was that she didn't have the slightest clue about ASD.
Maybe I'm not doing them justice but I think there is a reason why occupational health doctors don't work as doctors people go voluntarily to when they are sick.
So I still haven't got a clue. Anyway, had a bit of a look on google today and found this talk by Sarah Hendrickx
This is probably the closest I ever felt someone has described what it's like inside me. Think if I ever get chance to explain this to someone in order to try and make things work better (or not go wrong in first place) I'll ask them to watch this video. I'm not really good at explaining that sort of stuff myself, while she does an amazing job. Maybe that can also offend people (to ask them to watch a 43 minutes long video, to not bother to explain it myself... who knows) but it may be worth trying.