If you have autism, should you disclose that fact when you are interviewing for a job? If you have already been hired without disclosing your disorder, should you tell your boss about it?
For people with autism, deciding to disclose their diagnosis is a tough, personal decision. Autism is a disorder that is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability. However, we have seen many employers in today’s business environment who have a complete disregard for this law and many other employment laws.
Having autism includes having a range of cognitive, motor, and behavioral challenges. Some of these include sensitivity to light and sound, poor eye contact, and the inability to read body language and other social cues. Now, if you see someone exhibiting any of these characteristics, do not assume that this person has autism. For example, if someone has poor eye contact and wants to be left alone, it may be that this person is just shy or introverted. There is nothing wrong with that.
Some businesses actively recruit people with autism, however, it does not guarantee that the immediate supervisor would be supportive of someone who has autism. It is recommended that all businesses have policies that dictate how supervisors, and other employees are to treat people with autism and other disabilities. Leslie Long, vice president of adult services at Autism Speaks, says people with autism should not disclose their disorder unless they need to. This is because of the fear of being stigmatized or even ostracized by their co-workers and society as a whole. If an employee or prospective worker feels that they are 100% capable of doing the work without any accommodation for their disorder, then there should be no reason to disclose it.
Trust is also a key factor in deciding to disclose or not. Do you trust the people at the company that you work at or are seeking to work at? Unfortunately, only a small number of companies have policies and programs in place to educate their managers and staff about the capabilities and potential with people with autism so these workers can feel comfortable about their disorder.
Everyone needs to understand that about 44% of children diagnosed with autism have an above average intellectual ability. Some experts say that some people on the autism spectrum may be well suited for math and engineering because of their advanced intellectual ability. To be able to have that advanced intellectual ability, many people with autism need structure, a set routine, and a work environment that is quiet and free from distractions so they can be able to perform at their best.
Here Are 5 Things To Consider Before Disclosing to a Prospective Employer About Your Autism
- Research the employer’s record on Autism related issues. Do not rely on just the company website. Expand out to include any news about the company, as well as ask friends and relatives if they have heard of anything about how a particular company treats their employees.
- Consider the work environment and your specific role. See if your employer can allow you to work in a more quieter space, or allow you to wear sound-muffling headphones.
- Think carefully about the timing. Don’t disclose until you have got a job offer. It is typically not a good idea not to disclose during the interview process, because an employer can just not select you.
- Be proactive in finding solutions. Maybe provide a list of the top 10 ways that you are best managed.
- Be honest and don’t be embarrassed. If you decide to disclose your disorder, don’t be ashamed. Many people with autism are extremely focused and persistent which leads to their above average intellectual ability.
Autism is not who or what you are, but simply how your brain processes the world around you. It simply means you have to go through some extra steps to retrain yourself on how to process social cues, interact with people without feeling like a social outcast.
Nick is the CEO of GMM Creative Group in Orlando. If you like this article and need fresh content for your website, visit us at www.gmmcreative.com for our blog writing services.