Hi, I have a job interview next week, and I don't know whether to mention that I have Aspergers or not, would you? it's not something I like to mention but I feel I should mention it because I don't want any misunderstandings between myself and the staff, as with my last job, which I recently got sacked from because of my "erratic " behavior and " attitude". I never told them about my Asperger's when I started working there.
Is the disclosure relevant to the interview process? For example, I disclosed before the interview for my current job as I wanted to see the questions in advance of the interview as I struggle with my ability to process my answers in those kinds of environments so it was relevant.
If you don't require any extra support before or during the interview I'd wait and tell them afterwards if you need reasonable adjustments in the job, such as the support of a mentor to help manage your behaviour.
For people who aren't disabled disclosing in the actual interview when it isn't relevant to that moment can seem like oversharing.
But that depends on what you consider to be a disability.
I don't think of my Asperger's in that way, but rather as a 'different ability.' Of course, though, it affects us all in different ways, and to greater or lesser extents depending on what we're doing.
The Equality Act 2010 makes the following definition of a disability:
“a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [your] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” Mental impairments include autism and most autistic people are likely to fit this description.
Again, 'impairment' is a contentious word. But supposing, for example, you were going for a job that would entail working in an office alone and pretty much self-sufficiently. That might seem ideal for you. But then you start the job and find you are faced with constant demands to work extra hours at short notice, or that you'd need to spend long hours answering the phone to potential customers. Both of those things would be problems for me, so I'd want to find out before I took the job whether those things are likely to happen. My interviewers may then ask why I find these things a problem. What am I to say? I'd have to be honest. I know it's hypothetical, but it comes up in many jobs. I went for an admin job a short while ago which was advertised as 9 - 5, Monday to Friday - exactly what I like. Again, I volunteered the question as to whether there would be an expectation of overtime. Good job I did, because they said there was often the need to work late or to come in at weekends if rotas needed to be finalised. I wouldn't have wanted to get into the role, then find that out - and quite often, I've found, employers won't volunteer that information upfront.
Although I firmly believe autism is a socially constructed disability and day-to-day just see myself as a category of human e.g man/women, NT/ND the predominant NTs do see autistic people as disabled and this offers certain protection.
Like you MT, spending long hours answering the phone is something I'm unable to do as its part of my autism. As this is an expectation in many jobs this impairment has a substantial and long term effect on my ability to carry out this day to day activity. As its seen as a disability need adjustments can be made to limit the number of jobs I can't do.
I work in a student facing post and there's the expectation that people in my role will take and receive long phone calls. Instead of closing the door on this job and saying its not for me as I've identified as disabled in this context and asked for support my employer has agreed that I do not have to receive or make telephone calls at work. I don't even have my phone plugged in.
I respect your decision to identify as you choose MT but identifying as disabled some of the time can help to make the workplace a lot more accessible
I completely agree with you. I do think it is important to identify as disabled if it helps.
I accept that my condition is regarded as a disability - and there are contexts in which I think of it as such. If it's going to benefit me in any way to identify as disabled, then I will. In job applications, I always answer 'Yes' to the question as to whether I have a disability - precisely because of the definition in the Equality Act. Sorry... I should have been a bit clearer on that point.
Agree, too, that many disabilities - not just autism - are social constructs. In an ideal world, society should adapt to accommodate us in the same way that it does for the physically disabled (hearing loops, wheelchair ramps, etc) - not expect us to 'change' to suit it. 'Masking', as we know, can do a lot of damage.