I have been in a bit of a quandary with my life lately, as there have been a few changes of my own choosing. This got me thinking about whether it’s just me being Aspie or if an NT would have these issues as well – and if so, how badly would they feel it?
Starting your first job (or beginning any new job) can present a number of challenges for an Aspie, or anyone on the autism spectrum. There are big decisions to make, like whether or not you choose to disclose your disability. This is a very personal choice and one that should not be taken lightly. Previously, if a form had said: “Do you consider yourself to have a disability” then I would always answer “No”, because I never felt that I did. If it said: “Are you registered disabled” then I had to answer “Yes”.
An employer who’s recruiting staff may make limited enquiries about your health or disability. (gov.uk/rights-disabled)
As I’m actually really high functioning, there might seem no point in putting people off employing me, as there still appears to be a huge stigma around these types of disabilities that wouldn’t happen if I were, say, in a wheelchair. The flip side to this coin is that if you don’t disclose it on an application form or when you go for an interview, the prospective employer cannot read minds and make any necessary adjustments to fit in with you. This has also happened to me where I didn’t disclose my disability to a prospective employer and failed the second and final interview. When I asked for feedback as to where I could improve, I was told that I was the better candidate, but I needed to make more eye contact. This was frustrating because as an Aspie, it’s a difficult and somewhat painful thing to do.
Then there is the job itself. Will people like me? Will I be able to get on with them? What happens if they have an out-of-work social event (ARGH!) which terrify me. I’m sure an NT would find all this a little daunting too.
I’m not saying any of the above to put anyone off the idea of working, or changing jobs, although I can see how new jobs can seem nightmarish! I think it’s important to appreciate the reality that jobs are going to be demanding at some points, but hopefully they are not always stressful. In my own experience, however, I have found that just giving myself “some slack” and accepting that I might not be the only one that finds certain situations stressful can be very helpful, even if it doesn’t help me solve the problem. It would be wrong to focus solely on the negatives of work.
Working can be rewarding for so many different reasons. It can be really satisfying to see how much progress you have made during your time within a particular job. I guess that no matter how scary or daunting a new job, or even your first job is, give it time and remember it’s a learning curve or as I see it, a scientific experiment into social interaction. But above all, relax and give it your best shot. That’s what I intend to do.
Stay Safe X