Throughout April, I really wanted to share the stories and experiences of other amazing people who raise awareness and have lived experience of autism. Today is Mulier Fortis!
I’m autistic. Autism is not a fashion accessory I wear and can discard whenever I feel like it. Everything about my way of perceiving and experiencing the world is influenced by my autism.
Most autistic people who know about autism have heard at least two things about it: First, that it is a neurological or behavioural developmental disorder, and second, that it is a spectrum ranging from high-functioning (when autistic people are virtually ‘normal’ except for a few areas of need) to low-functioning (when people are so profoundly impaired by their autistic traits that they’ll never have a ‘normal’ life).
These two, widely held misconceptions encourage people to think of autism as a tragedy. But, what if it isn’t? What if autism is much more than a list of strange behaviours or developmental delays? What if autism is a normal, healthy neuro difference and the difficulties that autistic people face, happen largely because of society’s failure to adequately recognise and cater for that difference?
These are important questions. Like many other #actuallyautistic people, I believe that autism is a neurotype, not a disorder or condition. Autism is a neuro difference and because that isn’t widely appreciated, autistic people represent an underappreciated resource in the sphere of work/employment. A significant proportion of us are unemployed, or underemployed and it’s not because we’re unwilling, or unable to work. Instead, barriers impede us which have been created by ignorance, misconceptions about autism, prejudice, discrimination in hiring processes, or failure to provide adequate accommodations in the workplace. I’d like to offer some suggestions as ‘food for thought’ or a springboard to further exploration of this topic.
My suggestions are not intended to be taken as advice, or to represent the needs of all autistic people. Autistic people are unique and no individual can speak for the whole community.
I have worked in some capacity, either as a volunteer or employee for almost 25 years. I’ve enjoyed working on my own, as part of a team, part or full-time, combined with study, and supervising or managing individuals or teams. After considering the lessons learned from my experiences in work and employment, I created the acronym I.C.E. as a summary of the fundamental principles that helped me most in my interaction with employers and colleagues.
Ask about an autistic person’s preferences regarding accommodations.
Autistic Attributes & Skills Employers Value.
Attention to detail
There is no substitute for finding out as much as you can about the attributes and needs of the autistic person you’re interviewing and helping them to understand what you value and expect too. Autistic people have much more to offer than we currently receive credit for. Please give us a chance!
Thank you so much to Mulier Fortis for sharing their experience of autism! Please follow them on Instagram @autism_aspiration!