I'm Autistic

Updated: Jul 6

Should I tell my boss? I'm struggling.



Two ladies are sitting at a work station having a discussion. One Laptop is open and it looks like a collaborative business meeting.
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I’m Autistic, life would be better if I made adjustments at work that support me better, but there is so much stigma attached to Autism. What should I do?


To Disclose or Not to Disclose your Autism Diagnosis:


Weigh all your options. Do not be quick in telling everyone about your diagnosis. It is a very personal matter for each person to make. Analyze your current situation.


Do you have a well-established career? What happens if you disclose your Autism? Will attitudes change? Could it jeopardize your job? These are realities you need to analyze carefully.


What is your reason to disclose that you're Autistic? Do you need some support at work? What help do you need exactly? Is it something you can do without revealing your diagnosis?


If you ultimately analyze everything and decide to disclose your diagnosis, Do it carefully and slowly. Pick who you tell wisely and have a reason for it.





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Autism Is A Gift!


Yes, Autism comes with complex challenges but don't let the obstacles overpower your strengths. Focus on your strengths and provide yourself support where you struggle. Decrease the struggles with tools, strategies, and support and spend quality time focusing on the strengths.



Photo of 3 ladies laughing while working together with their laptops on a collaborative project.
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Disclosing Can Be Positive:


I told my boss I was Autistic and struggling during staff meetings. I asked for precise help. My boss accommodated me, and that helped me a great deal.


My biggest struggles are Anxiety and communication. His attitude completely changed positively, and his support helped me get through the last couple of years.


Colleagues were not easy to deal with, but the boss was great.



The accommodations I have at work are:

  • I receive the agenda before a meeting so I can prepare and be an active participant. (I ask for the agenda ahead of time).

  • I'm allowed to communicate without speech. I use email, chatbox, text, handwritten, and my AAC device. (I purchased the AAC device myself)

  • I wear sound-dampening earbuds, and everyone at work is aware of why. I'm Hyper Sensitive to sound. (I purchased the specialized earbuds myself)

  • I have a scoot chair to scoot around my classroom from desk to desk because I deal with severe muscle fatigue and weakness. (I purchased the scoot chair myself)



Opportunities for Autistic's only-- is a plus. The Autism Career Pathways reaches out to support and help Autistics with careers.


If you need guidance, work, and want to do things specifically Autistic and get as far from Neurotypical as you can, your diagnosis can help you.


I have made significant changes to my life after my diagnosis. I'm happier with other Autistics. They just understand, seem less judgmental, and more accommodating.




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Dangers of Disclosing:


My disclosing wasn't going to be an issue in my family. I wasn't going to be faced with a divorce, disownment, fired, or have my children taken away—none of those applied to me.


The law was on my side at work. I live in a state and country where the law protects me. My child is already grown. I own my home, and it's in my name. I am capable and able to overcome obstacles.


Lots of other people live where disclosure is dangerous, and the stigma of Autism is very high. They might be going through a divorce with a spouse who could use the diagnosis against them. The law where they live doesn't protect them.


Summary:

  • A few simple adjustments and supports can make all the difference towards success at work.

  • Weigh all your options before disclosing. Do not be quick in telling everyone about your diagnosis.


  • What is your reason to disclose that you're Autistic? Do you need some support at work? What help do you need exactly? Is it something you can do without revealing your diagnosis?


  • Disclosing can be positive. Telling my boss allowed for much-needed support and understanding.


  • There are potential dangers to disclosing. Analyze your risks? If you choose to disclose, do it slowly, carefully, and strategically. Focus on your main goal for disclosure. Is it to get support at work? Do you need to get disability support?


  • To strategically disclose, you might choose not to use the word Autism. I found people were more obliged to support and help if I only described the struggle. If I say Autism, no one helps. Instead, they avoid me. Suppose I say I need earbuds because of Hyper Sensory Sensitivity. In that case, they completely understand. Say, “I need an agenda early to be well prepared for a meeting,” instead of “I need the agenda early because I’m Autistic.” Giving reasons everyone identifies with works better. Using the term Autism seems to confuse.


  • Don’t allow yourself to fall into the downward spiral of stigma, self-doubt, and lowered self-esteem. Stick with the thoughts of “I am positively different and uniquely gifted.”



If you found this article helpful, I have a course full of resources and tips to help Autistic Adults thrive instead of just survive. Sign up for the updates on my Autism Strategies Course:


You might be interested in reading y other articles about Autism: You’ve Just Received Your Autism Diagnosis, , “Are You Okay?” The Ladies asked., and Invisible Disability.