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Autistic People Like Me Just Want a Chance to Succeed

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My friend Chris Bonello, a fellow public speaker who is on the autism spectrum, posted a great quote on his Facebook page where he discusses an example situation of what the workforce has looked like for him. It said:

“Sorry, Steve, we can’t offer you the job. I know you’d be an expert at building houses, but there was this other candidate who was really, really good at talking about building houses.” 

This really hit home for me because of my personal experiences trying to finding meaningful employment. I remember one of my first internships I ever received. I would be doing a 30-minute interview with Human Resources to decide whether or not I would receive the position. I spent weeks working on mock interviews and communication skills, but the entire time I kept thinking to myself, “Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to do a task for my potential employer versus how well I answered questions?”

I want our society to know there are capable and talented people on the spectrum who are able to walk the walk but might have challenges talking the talk. During months like October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I talk about hiring skilled people with disabilities in the workplace. In those conversations, I ask companies not to look at what they can do for an autistic person but what an autistic person can do for their company. In those conversations when I give talks about disability and employment to companies, I like to have someone from human resources present to discuss things like foregoing the interview process for a one-day job tryout to see what a potential employee is capable of when it comes to performance. Also, I appreciate when jobs provide concrete language in their job descriptions.

Groups such as the Department of Labor are helping with these employment efforts. It’s not only about communication challenges. For others like myself who still have some fine motor challenges, it may mean that if I’m wearing a tie in the workplace it might be slightly crooked. As a kid, I also couldn’t button my shirts or tie my own shoes until I was 11. But these challenges, which I still have some difficulty with today, have nothing to do with my work performance.

Simply put, autistic people like me just want a chance to succeed.

P.S. I was inspired to create this image below from another autistic self-advocate’s post here.

Kerry Magro.

This story originally appeared on

Getty image by Fizkes.

Originally published: September 30, 2020
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