Good afternoon my fellow aspies.
I would like to speak to you all regarding something that i feel very passionately about.
This would be the impact that Autism can have in the work place on a social level.
I personally have experienced a great deal of friction in this area and it has had a significant impact on my well being. These difficulties have been ignored by my employer. This is an absurdity to me as it was my employer that paid for my diagnosis. The truth is that i would never have pursued a diagnosis had it not been for the impact that my Autistic Spectrum Disorder (commonly known as Aspergers) has on my day to day working life.
The difficulties i experience are many but the issue i would like to focus on in particular are the social issues. In a nut shell 'i am come across as arrogant, aloof and lack a sense of hierarchy'. Throughout my working life i beleive this has made me a target for bullying and harassment in the work place. It has caused me to leave a number of jobs (admittedly i had not received my formal diagnosis at these times).
For various reasons not dissimilar to those that have materialised in other jobs, i am now in dispute with my current employer. The difference here is that i have had my diagnosis and this was paid for by my current employer. Bizarrely my employer is now denying my disability even though they paid for the diagnosis.
What i have found utterly shocking however throughout this situation is not simply the ignorance of my employer. It is also my experience with the organisation we all know as ACAS. This is an organisation i turned to in the hope that they would assist me in resolving issues with my current employer. How wrong i was. To any of you that experience issues in the work place; please be careful when dealing with this organisation.
It is my understanding that this organisation is supposed to be impartial. My experience so far has shown to me that they are entirely biased in favour of the employer. Their involvement has also perversely affected the behavior of my employer also.
I informed my conciliator that i had Autistic Spectrum Disorder from the outset of their involvement. I offered to have someone from the NHS explain to her what the condition was. She was dismissive of the offer and claimed she knew exactly what it was. From this point onward i felt that she didnt take me seriously at all.
I do not want to go into to much detail about this case at the moment but i would say that she advised me to agree to all of my employers demands, was reluctant to communicate with me and at one stage told me 'i was paranoid, should go see my cousellor and should go for a walk to clear my head'.
I made a request to see her line manager and had to wait until the last day of the allocated conciliation time frame to speak to him. When i did speak to him, he explained to me that he was responsible for giving out Autism Awareness training to his staff. For a split second i found this comforting; that was until he then proceeded to tell me how autism and aspergers where to separate conditions. As i underdtand it, aspergers technically doesn't exist when it comes to DSM5 criteria. Correct me if im wrong.
Further to this, someone at ACAS has informed my employer that i had made a complaint (which i am certain breaches data protection laws). They have also told my employer that everything they have done (with regards to myself) will stand up to any 3rd party scrutiny. This beggars belief for me for the following reasons:-
1. They are supposed to be impartial.
2. They are not supposed to give legal advice.
3. They are not qualified to give legal advice.
4. How can they know what is correct regarding my treatment if they themselves are not properly educated on my condition.
I have since been in contact with a long lost school friend and amazingly he has recently been diagnosed and is experiencing similar social issues in the work place. He has told me that his experience with ACAS has been equally troubling.
What on earth is this organisation? Am i correct in assuming that as an arm of the government, this organisation should be subject to statutory guidance as set out in the 2009 autism strategy? If you have work issues and feel you have to turn to this organisation, i urge you to be very wary of them.
Whoa, I wasn’t going to comment but seeing as how I made it to the end, reading it, I thought I might as well say something.
It sounds to me, like the standard work place doesn’t suit you. It didn’t suit me either. So I stopped going. There are aspects of it that I miss, but I’m using those aspects to create a situation that does work for me.
It could just be me, but all of that sounds pretty stressful and it’s not really the kind of stress I have in my life so my advice is probably pretty useless to somebody who wants that stress in their life, and it would be to simply don’t go.
I think the fact that you’re already fighting with them, says that this isn’t going to end well. Do you really want to be working for a company you’re fighting with? Who doesn’t listen to you? Who doesn’t appreciate, accept and celebrate your differences? And does that type of work environment/set up really work for you? I know it doesn’t for me.
Anyway, probably for the first time in my life I’ll keep it short ;) good luck
Thanks for your reply. It is important to add that i am a designer in the construction industry and i love my job. Indeed it is my special interest. I have an over-over-sensitivity to symmetry and my job involves roof trusses which are triangles.
My employer had been trying to impose targeted PC monitoring upon me alone which goes against the GDPR along with moving me from a salary to an hourly contract (this goes against the 2010 equality act) This for me was black and white discrimination and my assumption was that ACAS would clarify this. ( i must also add that my employer appears to have conveniently misplaced my original contract).
I basically get harassed by management and i will stand for it no longer. I am good at what i do. They just need to leave me alone.
You see for me, as I start reading all that stuff about the employer and work etc etc, I just can’t take it in. I loved my job, which also happens to be my special interest, and there are aspects of work that I miss, but I am getting very close to working in the way that suits me WITHOUT stress. It’s taken more than 6 years so far but I wouldn’t change those years for 6 years worth of working as I was.
For me, I simply realised that the standard set up doesn’t work for my optimum levels of health and wellbeing and happiness etc, so I just stopped going and decided I’d find a different way. One that suits me. And I’m super excited because this year, I’ve actually got some actual goals, for the first time in my life. But this year is all about building the foundation. Now I have the diagnosis and I’ve learned more about it, more about me etc, I feel I’ve got all the pieces of the puzzle, I just need to build my solid foundation and enjoy every step of the process, which I am. It beats going into the office, for me anyway. You’re more likely to find me walking for miles along a canal bank with few people but glorious sights. And I’m building in even more relaxation time so all that stuff about work doesn’t stay in my head. It just sounds like you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
I appreciate where your coming from with regards to me fitting a square peg in a round hole. Since my diagnosis i have come to appreciate that the work place is a big part of my problem. I beleive there must be a way for this to work however. I am reluctant to turn to the DWP for my income and indeed even more concerned about them challenging my condition as a reason for me to not work. It is not lost on me however that this may be the route my life takes.
Work issues aside however; i feel it is in the public interest (especially those who have a similar condition) are aware of what they face when it comes to ACAS. They say only 20% of us work and should we chose to do so, we should not be unfairly discriminated against. This is about equality for me.
ACAS should be aware of what Autism is and should support us in mediation, not discriminate against us.
If my case against my employer is successful, i plan to go after ACAS afterwards.
I also found ACAS to be terrible and no help whatsoever. But it looks good in court if you at least tried.
Thankyou for your reply.
I am not at all surprised that you have found them to be unhelpful. I spoke briefly to a solicitor about them and they told me that they basically do nothing.
What has alarmed me however was that they basically insulted me by suggesting that a chat with a counsellor or a walk in the countryside would some how cure my condition.
From the outset there was a reluctance to correspond with me yet they were plating happy families with my employer.
The fact that they told my employer about my complaint is shocking to say the least. Totally unprofessional.
My advice when dealing with ACAS would be to enter mediation, refuse to agree to anything, get your certificate and chase judicial mediation from an employment tribunal.
NAS50476 said: I have an over-over-sensitivity to symmetry and my job involves roof trusses which are triangles.
I can fink of nothing better.
I see what you did there 'fink' haha
You sound like you enjoy all of the fighting and going after people and all that business, I’m certainly not saying that’s wrong, it’s just like I said, it’s not for me, that’s why I said my thoughts would be of little help to you. I like a much calmer life.
It was interesting that you said you are reluctant to turn to the DWP for income and that you’d be concerned about them challenging your condition as a reason you can’t work ~ this is very black and white autistic thinking.
I am currently, very gratefully, in receipt of benefits. I never sought them as a means of income. I just happen to be living in a country that supports people who are temporary or long term out of work. And I never gave my reason for not working as autism, I simply said that I have been living with undiagnosed autism for most of my life, I’m in a burn out phase and I’m taking my time to understand myself better and work out what work I will do, when I’m ready, and how many hours etc etc. I didn’t say I can’t work I said I won’t work. I didn’t even want to be in the job centre but it was worth it to keep my roof over my head but the woman had to call the manager of the job centre over to calm me down and reassure me that they’re not going to be trying to get me to look for jobs and they haven’t, they’ve been really supportive. They got me both of my support workers.
I don’t see the DWP as a form of income, but I’m extremely grateful for it because I’m sure it will help me get back to work much quicker. Although I won’t be working for anybody else again. I view it differently to you. Me deciding to not go into work again in a work place that doesn’t suit me, wasn’t the end of anything but the beginning of my journey to discovering me, how I work and how that can fit into the world.
I can only respect where your coming from with this comment. I dont really enjoy the fight as such however. Perhaps i feel a strong sense of injustice in my life not just from this employer but those before it.
In truth this is the final stand for me before i do perhaps go down the dwp route.
In the past i have simply left jobs because of the traumatic experiences i have endured. This time it is about seeing this through to its conclusion. This process will decide whether my working life continues in its current format.
Also i am determined to not allow ACAS to marginalize me as i feel they have done. I am so angry with them. My belief is that a simple confirmation of the obvious from them would have avoided this mess. It is a fight worth fighting to me and if i lose, i can at least sleep easy knowing i tried.