Disclosing autism at work

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Disclosing your autism to your employer is a complicated decision with strong arguments both for and against read more.  This post aims to provide a balanced discussion about choosing whether or not you should tell your autism to your to their employer.

Choosing to disclose your autism at work is a difficult and possibly stressful decision and would therefore recommend talking over such an important decision with someone who you know you can trust, which for me that person is my wife.  But for others it might be a family member, parents, support worker and while all of these people will be able to help you, the decision to disclose is your choice alone.

Before reading any further I want to make sure that you are absolutely aware that you have NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT to disclose your autism at work unless, because of your work environment it could impact on the health and safety of yourself or others. Also remember that by disclosing to your employer about your autism is that you have imparted personal, private information about yourself and now, because they are aware of your autism it is now the responsibility to keep this information private and confidential.

Depending on how you found the vacancy for the job your interested in applying for the first opportunity you have to disclose your autism to an employer is on the application form. I myself have done this when applying for a job within the National Health Service (NHS), because on their application form is section where some can disclose their disability (should they choose to do so). The benefit of this to both yourself and the employer is that they can make reasonable adjustments for an interview or to the work environment.

Aside from an application form there are other opportunities for you to disclose your Autism at work, such as at interview.  It may also be worth writing a covering letter to accompany your CV in which you can disclose your Aspergers but also simultaneously sell yourself and prove why your are the best person for the job.  Where, when or how you decide to tell your employer you have autism always remember that it is a decision that should be carefully considered.  When I first started applying for jobs I decided to disclose my Aspergers at the interview.

The reason I chose to disclose is because at the time I found interviews to be quite stressful and nerve racking and so I decided to disclose at the beginning of my interview so that any behaviour I might exhibit, such as reduced level of eye contact and struggling to process and answer the interviewers questions coherently would not be misinterpreted by those who were interviewing me.  When I have disclosed at the beginning of the interview I found the Interview to be a lot less stressful, but again I must emphasise that disclosing at the beginning of an interview is your choice.

In my opinion the best time to disclose your autism to an employer is on your first day of you starting the job.  This is the approach I adopt because I am now very comfortable in interviews and don’t find them as stressful. The other reason I disclose on my first day is mostly as a preemptive measure, because of what happened when I started my first job.

When it comes to telling my colleagues and boss on my first day I only tell those who I am likely to work closely with on a daily basis. Taking this approach has always worked out well for me and I have also found that some colleagues have had previous experience of employing and working someone who is autistic.

In conclusion I will always choose to disclose my Aspergers Syndrome to my employer, because it makes focussing on work easier and the experience of being at work much less stressful.

All of what I’ve discussed is based on my own experiences and I hope that all who have read this post find it’s content useful. ALWAYS remember though, disclosing your autism at work is YOUR CHOICE! Nobody can make you tell your employer that your autistic the decision to do so is entirely your choice.

Useful Resources

An example covering letter disclosing a disability

List of double tick employer – The great thing about these employers is that providing you meet the minimum criteria for the position you are applying for you’re guaranteed an interview.

Disability right (Employment)

UK Disability Definition Document

7 thoughts on “Disclosing autism at work

  1. You mention that someone might be at risk in your job. This is a real concern in farming and other career choices. If someone i interviewed did not reveal he had Aspergers/Autism (i could probably tell since my son has Aspergers), and then the requirements of the job put him in a position of decision making that could affect others, that would be totally inappropriate. We are careful with our son in the jobs we ask of him so that he isn’t in a position to make a wrong decision about his or other’s safety.

    • Thank you for your comment. If in my reply I have misinterpreted your comment I apologise. The content of whole post is generated from my own experiences, which all come from an office based environment. The point I was trying to get across was that somebody on the Spectrum is not legally required to disclose to their employer that they are autistic, unless it put somebody else’s health and safety at risk and I completely see how that in environments such as farming could be a real concern and may require someone to be legally required to disclose their autism to an employer. It would also be responsibility of an employer to structure their duties and requirements of their job so that they are never put into a decision making position, which is what you do with your son. I myself am not in a position of authority in my job and I don’t ever plan or want to be, because I struggle deciding somedays what to have for lunch, let alone anything else and also being in that position of authority would take me away from that aspect of my job that I enjoy the most.

      • You exactly understood my reply despite my inept comment. I understand now that what you were saying – thank you for the clarification. My son is 21 and continues to find ways to make it easy for him and us to work and live together. We all get frustrated at times, but we always work through with love and patience. May Yah be praised. All the best to you and your family.

  2. Michael Riches

    I find myself leaning towards Tom’s first comment that “Unless you’re disclosing a disability or condition that could impact on the health and safety of yourself and others within your work place -there is no legal requirement for you to disclose that you’re autistic” to be quite reasonable, as Autism is not in itself a condition that has any immediate and obvious impact on the health and safety of others in the work place.

    There are many people on the Autistic Spectrum in occupations such as pilots, armed forces, doctors lawyers etc, and I myself was a fireman and I have been a driving instructor as well after having passed rigorous training and assessment, and I haven’t killed anyone yet.

    I feel that if you have a condition where you perhaps can’t drive in a straight line, wire up plugs correctly, plan ahead and take appropriate action in accordance to your vocational and health & safety competence standards, then sure that’s going to be an issue, usually identified by assessments as well as medicals etc, but not solely because you are on the Autistic spectrum, that would just be pre-judicial I’m thinking.

    Oh, and I’ve met not one but two health & safety inspectors with autism.

  3. I enjoyed reading this. I think if you disclose that you have autism it’s probably also good practice to explain briefly what that means for you and what, if any, adjustments would be helpful…. People with autism are not homogenous.. Each person will have different needs. If employers have a narrow understanding of what autism is they will probably need some more information beyond the label. My son is a teenager with autism and I hope he will find employment which he enjoys in a few years time.

    • Your absolutely right the needs and adjustments will be as different and varied as the individuals themselves. Employers need to understand that as you say people with are not homogeneous and need a bit more education. I think at nearly every company I am the only employee who is autisitic and that needs to change.

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