If you read my last blog entry, I mentioned that I was going to have a post dealing with disclosure of ASD. Well, here it is.
When I speak at lectures, one of the major topics that I address, is disclosure of ASD. I believe that disclosure, specifically in the workplace, is of vital importance for employment success for anyone on the autism spectrum. I’m going to briefly talk about strategies on how to disclose ASD to an employer, when to disclose it and who you should disclose it to.
Strategies on Disclosure
-Before you tell an employer about your ASD, prepare a few sentences on what exactly you would like to say. The speech doesn’t have to be very long, only a few sentences to make your point. But, you should prepare something in advance that will be clear and easy for your employer to understand.
-Have a fact sheet about autism/ASD/Aspergers printed off and ready to give to your employer. The Autism Society of America has a general page about Aspergers which you can find here.
-Practice your disclosure speech with a parent, friend or someone else that you know well, who can help you fine tune the points of what you would like to say to your employer.
When to Disclose
– Disclose your diagnosis of autism/ASD/Aspergers as early on as you can in your job. Personally, I believe that disclosing on the first day of employment is the best option, because if you disclose during the job interview, even though it shouldn’t be a problem to disclose then, it is in your best interest to wait until you have been offered, accepted and started the job, to actually disclose. Although I have never disclosed about my Aspergers during a job interview, I believe that disclosing during an interview, may or may not hurt the chances of getting a position, as some employers aren’t always familiar with autism/ASD/Aspergers. I encourage people to share though whenever they feel personally ready to do so, even if that is during the interview process. Ultimately though, I always wait until the first day on the job.
-If you decide to disclose during a job interview, don’t go into the interview and disclose after the very first question. A good rule during an interview is to wait until the end of the interview, when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions. At that point, it is okay to potentially disclose your autism/ASD/Aspergers. As I mentioned though, if you don’t want to disclose during the interview, you certainly don’t have to.
– If you decide to disclose during your first day on the job, set aside a time during the day where you can sit down privately with your boss for a few minutes. This will allow your boss to ask any potential follow-up questions they may have for you, in a relaxed and private setting.
Who to Disclose To
– Disclose to your boss/supervisor first. Don’t say anything to coworkers until you have told your boss. By telling your boss first, this allows your boss to ask you any follow-up questions and/or help you with how you will disclose to your coworkers. Some bosses might feel fine with you disclosing to your coworkers yourself, while other bosses might want to actually help you disclose to your coworkers, so that they can help your coworkers understand things in the best way.
– Always make sure that when you disclose to your boss, you indicate any type of accommodations you think you might need to best perform at your job. For example, if you are sensitive to bright lights, let your boss know this and ask them if it would be okay if you wore a hat or dark glasses to help you with the lighting or if you can work in a room with soft light.
Out of all of these tips and strategies, the most important thing I can say is this: Don’t ever, ever be afraid to disclose to your boss/supervisor about your autism/ASD/Aspergers!! A good boss/supervisor, wants to be made aware of any accommodations for any employee, so that the employee and the employer, can have the best possible work environment and everyone can be successful.
If you have a boss/supervisor that doesn’t understand your disclosure or has any issues with it, then maybe that isn’t the right work environment for you to be in.
I believe that people on the autism spectrum can do great work and with the right supports in place, anything is possible. I hope the tips and strategies that I have provided, will help you or someone you know, be successful with disclosure in the workplace, as it is key to a good job environment.
Until next time…
– The ZEZ