BEING AUTISTIC NICK IN THE WORKPLACE
AN INSIGHT PIECE
Persons with disabilities are frequently not considered potential members of the workforce.
Perception, fear, myth, and prejudice continue to limit understanding and acceptance of disabilities in the workplace.
Myths abound, including that people with disabilities are unable to work and that accommodating a person with a disability in the workplace is expensive.
Contrary to these notions, many companies have found that people with disabilities are more than capable.
When I found out that I had a disability I never for one second thought that it would hurt my chances of finding employment.
For one I never disclosed it fearing rejection, along with the stereotypes that being a person with a disability carry’s which is being seen as being incapable, unambitious, and unreliable.
Then add in ignorance, fear, and prejudice and it paints a clearer picture of the chances of me being employed.
The real obstacle lies with employers.
Many are still hesitant to take on employees with disabilities because they believe they may create problems in the workplace.
Since I am employed this for me is where I have to put in the hard yards.
I have to work ten times harder than my non-disabled co-workers.
And that is a fact.
Every time I enter the office and sit down in front of my computer, I am having to prove myself.
I have to prove that I can research, write, pitch story ideas, and work to deadlines.
I am having three-way conversations in my head whenever I interact with other work colleagues, ensuring that I am interacting with them and communicating by giving measured responses to their questions.
The only way I can describe this is imagine that you are at UN conference, you sit down, and in a booth not to far away another person a translator sits down and puts on a pair of headphones.
Then the conversation begins, and I hear it, the person with the headphones on, translates it for me and then provides me with a response.
I have to translate what that person says into what I class “Autism language”, then it’s processed into English and then I repeat my answer back thanks to the translator.
It’s a tiring process.
I am also putting (which has to stop) an enormous amount of pressure on myself to consistently succeed and produce relatable disability content.
I know I can’t shoulder every disability on my shoulders, but I feel that I am a representative and I am providing them with a voice for them to be able to tell their story.
Added to that I am also conscious of my environment, for sensory reasons as well as dealing with sensory processing disorder https://autisticnick.com/2018/09/03/sensory-processing-disorder-spd/.
Many people who are on the Autism spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information. Any of the senses may be over- or under-sensitive, or both, and at different times.
These sensory differences can affect behaviour and can have a profound effect on a person’s life https://autisticnick.com/2019/02/25/autism-and-sensory-differences/.
I am also in constant battle with Autism fatigue.
As well as making sure that I see the signs if an Autistic Shutdown is on the horizon.
Shutdowns are when the Autistic person is still experiencing perceived sensory overload to an environmental trigger. Shutdowns can be defined as a person’s brain going into a protective mode, where it ‘shuts off’ momentarily.
Autistic Individuals experiencing sensory shutdown often appear immobile; they may lay in one position and not move or blink. They may not hear their names being called and are unable to respond.
These individuals in the midst of a shutdown often retreat from the outside world, by going inside, or within themselves for comfort, in an effort to self-calm and remove whatever caused their stress. https://autisticnick.com/2021/01/11/how-autistic-nick-dealt-with-a-shut-down/
Being Autistic can make my fatigue and burnout more likely, due to the pressures of social situations and sensory overload. If you’re an Autistic person and have or are experiencing fatigue or burnout, managing your energy levels is essential.
Fatigue, and then subsequent burnout, can happen to anybody. Autistic people, however, can be more susceptible to both, due to the pressures of everyday life, having to navigate social situations and sensory overload https://autisticnick.com/2021/08/31/how-i-dealt-with-autistic-fatigue-and-a-burnout/.
However I am extremely fortunate that I am able to despite all of the above hitting me like a sledgehammer I am able to function in the workplace.
I have had to draft and write documents on how I need my day to be structured, what to do if I have a meltdown, have a room where I can go to and be alone if things are getting too much for me and I am becoming overwhelmed, I am also able to take a walk outside if I think that in that moment it will help me.
I am also open and willing to have a discussion around what else my workplace can do to make my life easier for my disability and I am very open to educating people about me and my Autism.
Carry on the Conversation
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.