Usually I would discuss these types of issues with my mentor or therapist, but unfortunate timing means I face the difficult task of my first ever informal disclosure without either of their assistance, so I was hoping some people here would give me some advice and feedback.
I am a final year university student and for the next semester I have to work full time in the lab. I begin on Monday. I have never disclosed my diagnosis before. Last summer I worked in a different lab and it was hell. I was treated like a child and it drove me to the point of being suicidal. I don't want this semester to go the same way, as I have lost my support network and if I end up in the same place as in the summer, I will not survive. I feel like disclosing is the only hope I have of making the work environment more tolerable and at least giving me something to report if I am mistreated by those who supervise me.
I have been trying to plan out what to say. I plan to disclose to whoever is first training me, just before they begin to teach me. Here's what I've come up with:
My main concerns are 1) chickening out or forgetting, hence having to act neurotypical for the duration of my placement, or 2) starting talking about it and tearing up, because I'm in a bad place mentally and talking about things like this can make me irrationally emotional.
Can any one give me any advice or share any of their own experiences?
I did not know how to tell people after I was diagnosed.
It certainly caused a great deal of apprehension. Many people thought I was odd anyway, with strange ideas and ways of doing things, unusual habits and a bit abrupt and to the point. So they already made judgements about me, whether I disclosed my autism or not.
When it comes to adjustments under the Equality Act, the diagnosis obviously has to be disclosed to managers, and that is as far as it needs to go if you want to get adjustments. But others will still think you are strange and may wonder why you may get certain 'privileges' in the workplace.
The first step I took was telling someone who I was a bit closer to than others. Once that was out the way, I thought the best way of getting it out in the open was to tell the 'office gossip', and the news spread like wildfire! I did not have to do anything else.
As time went on, I grew more comfortable about telling people. I don't approach people and say I'm autistic, but I might throw it into a conversation, or when I make a particularly inappropriate remark for example (and I make many!) I will say I was having an autistic moment and that I am autistic. But I am not ashamed or uncomfortable anymore about saying I am autistic. I have strange eating habits and very strong dislikes in food I can say that I can't stand certain food smells, tastes and textures because I am autistic and it is how I am affected and this is accepted far more than it used to be when I was classed as a 'fussy eater'.
As with a lot of things the initial stage of 'coming out' is the most difficult. But if anyone cannot then accept you it is their problem not yours. I would certainly not want to keep the acquaintance of anyone who judged me negatively because of my autism.