This is a question that nearly all of us on the spectrum will have asked ourselves at some point in our working lifetimes. It can be difficult to weigh up and understand the benefits and drawbacks of disclosing at work or when applying for jobs.
There are several reasons why you might decide to inform colleagues and or employer of your autism. These include:
You feel misunderstood and believe that people may be more understanding if they knew why you behaved in certain ways.
Supports and services are available in your workplace that you may wish to access, especially if you’ve only been recently diagnosed and are already employed.
You might want people to appreciate what living with autism is like and may wish to talk about your experiences to raise awareness about the condition.
So, why wouldn’t you want people to know that you’re autistic? You may believe:
You fear that your disclosure will be met with a prejudiced response from your colleagues and employer.
Adjustments and strategies that you hoped could be arranged to make your job easier will not be made or even explored.
Disclosing will complicate future attempts to socialise and fit in with your colleagues.
There are many benefits in being upfront about your condition and the additional needs you may have with your workplace.
If you are more upfront about being autistic, it is usually easier to explain your needs and concerns. You will be amazed how most people will be only too happy to help if you simply explain what you are finding difficult.
Some of us on the spectrum are so fearful of our co-workers finding out that we’re on the spectrum that we pretend to be another person than who we really are. This is hugely unhealthy for our own mental wellbeing and our relationships with other people, especially when trying to make friends. Being upfront about your condition can make the process of socialising far easier. It will also help give your employer a better idea of what adjustments can be made to ease pressure on the job for you.
Autism is an invisible condition and people with it can often feel frustrated at how the world doesn’t really get how we work or why we behave as we do. Because people are not aware we have a disability at times we can feel they see us as strange or difficult as opposed to people living with special needs. Through telling people you have Autism, you may feel more understood by others than before.
By talking openly about your condition, you can be an example for other people on the spectrum around you and those who will follow. Being upfront about having autism can gradually normalise it in daily life as it is discussed and understood more and more by different people.
So there it is. It’s a very personal decision.
Overall, we feel that autism is and should be seen as normal and that people should be seen as they are, therefore we don’t think that people should be ashamed or embarrassed to say they are autistic or equally feel they have to explain their behaviour. However, at time being upfront and accepting who you are, through speaking out about it, can be good not just for you but for others too!