I am 63 and diagnosed autistic nearly a year ago. I am in full time employment.
Since diagnosis I have a support worker paid for by Access to Work and have had some adjustments made.
Unfortunately I also suffer from chronic anxiety. And this seems to be getting worse. Management at work seen to think that with the support worker O can turn off my autism. I don't know whether autistic traits get worse with age but I am now too exhausted to put on an act. I thought I was getting on ok with work, completing the work I was given and not getting behind.
Then in the summer I was told that I was not doing enough and a workplace given to me. The result was that I got extremely anxious with the extra tasks and fell behind with the tasks I had been completing, slowing down completely. On top of this orders were doing at me which I thought I was following but it seems like I was not.
On leave from work I returned to find a huge backlog and was called to the managers office. I was told to get the work caught up with in a week (a physical impossibility on my own) and then start on the workplace as I had been given adjustments so that now I had to show U could do 'all the tasks of the job' or face the consequences.
This week I was told that my behaviour was gross misconduct, I had disobeyed instructions and that if things did not improve O would be facing disciplinary procedures. Such a caring employer I have.
I am on a committee at work involved with equality run by head office. We are supposed to get time off to go to the meetings. However the previous meeting I was told I had to Skype as there were too many off work. So I did and did not enjoy the expwrience, it gave me anxiety through the day beforehand and frequently lost the signal when the time came for the meeting. So for this meeting I thought if I booked Annual Leave I could go in my own time, I didn't have a problem with that but as it was on business U asked for the rail fare. And idea! I was told I could not go on business in my own time, and when I said I did it to save problems I was accused of being manipulative. I asked if I could go in company time and was told no because they couldn't spare me. I was told that annual leave was for my well being although by refusing me permission to go to the meeting in my own time they are causing me huge anxiety so I would not enjoy the day off when I was looking forward to the meeting, it is the one thing that made me feel valued at work and going on my own time was no problem for me.
I was told they have a duty of care. But I am not incapable of leading my life, I understand timetables, can find my way around, get on the right train at the right time with no assistance. Yet I am treated like someone mentally sub normal. Problems Autism gives me are that I have difficulty constantly changing tasks, cannot pick up easily when interrupted, sensory overload, having seemingly strange ideas which to me are logical and make sense.
Yet work seems instant on exploiting my weaknesses and not my strengths. And I believe I am being bullied. And age just seems to make me less able to cope.
i think the autism can become more pronounced when under stress and when always strong enough to put on the act on normality and reinforce the coping strategies that you may have previously used. Sometimes life also throws a curve ball and you can panic if it is a new situation as you haven’t Been given the rule book on how to deal with every circumstance....so you muddle through and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
btw your work re: duty of care are right re the meeting. They are reading HR policy and guidance down to the letter. I suspect they are nervous about how best to support you. Would you be open to meeting with your line manager, and bring someone with you so that you can discuss these challenges and try to clear the air.
I suspect they are attempting constructive dismissal. Instead of making adjustments to help you. They are making your life difficult to impossible, so that you either leave of your own "free" will or they will dismiss you for being unable to do your job.
That could be true and I am pleased that you are diagnosed and that gives you some protection.....
this link Is to the union, the TUC guidance on discrimination at work and might be worth a read.
Hi Robert, that thought has struck my mind.There are also murmerings of them paying me off, which I am sure wouldn't be enough to finish my mortgage.
Setting me unachievable work loads and At the same time saying they are supporting me, using my autistic traits as a reason for discipline, when I try to explain we just go round in circles and the don't listen or hear only what they want to, say I'm being awkward when I don't understand. Apart from that they are a two faced bunch of hippocrits.
You have my sympathy.
A few years ago I was dealing with a family (nothing to do with autism). Which was trying to get reasonable adjustments in their work schedule to fit in with their childcare arrangements.
The couple were both working at the same printing firm on zero hour contracts which had shifts covering 24 hour working. Very flexible.
Their three year old was In a nursery and they could rely on friends and neighbours for some help. They wanted work shifts to fit in with their childcare arrangements.
The woman said she knew all the laws and regulations from the internet and the firm had to make reasonable adjustments.
They got a right runaround. One week they gave her only one very short shift, paying her a total of £24. They avoided making her redundant & redundancy pay by making sure she had work every week.
In short the firm made their lives very difficult.
Sounds all rather familiar, hope it ends differently. If what Robert suggested is their plan then I think they will get it, one way or another, they already use the very things that should protect you against you... You could fight of course, but that can come at a high cost and chronic anxiety is not the kind of thing that equips you well for it, and they'll know that.
Wish you all the best that it doesn't come to that.
Personally, I would try speaking to a union rep, ACAS or your local CAB. If you have been diagnosed with ASD/Autism/Aspergers then that should be considered a disability. You should be protected by the Equalities Act. If you believe that there is the potential of constructive dismissal, then you could take your employer to an industrial tribunal regarding this. I understand that the rules are in the process of changing regarding payment. You may be able to find out more here https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunals/make-a-claim
By law, your company cannot make you redundant, due to your disability, nor can they pension you off without your consent. You could also check the following link https://www.gov.uk/discrimination-your-rights/what-you-can-do
It sounds like your company knows how far they can go to make your working life untenable. Hang in there while you can, you do have the law on your side. As I said first off, speak to a union rep or ACAS first, or maybe CAB.
Hope that you get some joy
i have had the misfortune to be bullied out of 2 jobs in education. One after 8 years (a new senior manager who took a dislike to me) and another school after one just year. I had a great year, moved up with a SEN pupil and the next teacher absolutely made my life difficult, talked into the ear of her 'friend', the deputy manager. I had to resign from the 2nd job, made redundant from the first job.
I just dont do the whole school staff room politics thing, go to the BBq's or socialise. It makes you different, however I have always been very good with the children I supported.
The 2nd job, where I had only been there for a year, this staff member felt threatened by my undertaking a psychology degree (distance learning). In fact I used my redundancy money from the other job to pay. Negatives into positives!!
I have now graduated but feel I probably wont work again, particularly in education as I do not fit in.
I was forced to resign as they made work so difficult for me, and unions have not helped me in either situations. [edited by moderator] the first job and [edited by moderator] for the 2nd job. In fact the [edited by moderator] rep, his daughter applied (and got) my job after I left the job (although they had a volunteer for a few months, first - probably to avoid controversy).
please excuse my writing, as i am dyslexic, dyspraxia (co morbid with ASC).
I feel for you trainspotter (yep we can have empathy, that so annoys me that misconception!) but I fear they are making things difficult for you. I hope it works out for you. I am bordering giving up and probably never working again?
[Edited by Ayshe Mod]