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5 Reasons I Choose to Self-Disclose My Autism

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I believe self-disclosure is very important, especially as individuals grow up. Regardless of what disability, disease, illness or disorder one may have, self-advocacy is crucial for adults. I believe self-disclosure is one form of self-advocacy. After my first job, I decided to self-disclose as early as appropriate in every interview. Here are five reasons why I choose to self-disclose my autism spectrum disorder:

1. I want people to know exactly what they’re getting.

The first job interview I ever had and the first job I ever got, I didn’t disclose until after several months on the job. I was having a really difficult time and wasn’t being treated well, so I hoped that disclosing would give them a reason to treat me better. It didn’t. Looking back, I wish I had disclosed during my interview. If they aren’t comfortable hiring me because I am autistic, then I wouldn’t be comfortable working for them. Now I disclose as quickly as possible. And when I got hired, it felt really good. The people I would be working with educated themselves ahead of time. We get along really well.

2. I want people to know I’m not ashamed.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. I’m proud of myself for all of the things I have done and I continue to do. Autism is a significant part of who I am. I’m not ashamed of being autistic just like I’m not ashamed of having blue eyes. I don’t have control over my genes. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

3. I want people to know it’s OK to ask questions.

By self-disclosing, I’m opening myself up to questions. I want people to ask questions. I don’t particularly want to answer them, but I’m thankful people care enough to want to know what helps me most. We’re all different so what helps me may not help someone else on the autism spectrum.

4. I want people to know I may struggle in some areas, but I can excel in others.

It seems that not making eye contact makes people think that I may not be capable of doing other things, like living independently and working a full-time job. I may not be good at eye contact, but I can put together a complete scouting report, make videos and complete a statistical analysis. I may not always be able to get the words out in the right order, but I learn quickly. My senses may overwhelm me easily, but I still like to do things like go to the movies, arcades, and sporting events (with my headphones).

5. I want people to know people with autism are good.

We don’t hate everyone. We aren’t incapable of love. We aren’t emotionless. We love, we play, we learn, we share, we teach. We are good just like you.

Erin McKinney the mighty.1

Follow this journey on Erinmmckinney.

Originally published: August 13, 2015
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