Definitely in a good mood as of lately. #Autisticandproud
As someone with autism, I know that I bring unique strengths and challenges to my job. I may approach tasks and social interactions differently than my coworkers, but that doesn't make me any less valuable as a team member.
Here are a few things that my colleagues could do that would make it easier for me to succeed at work:
They communicate clearly and directly.
Autistic individuals like me may have difficulty interpreting nonverbal cues or picking up on subtlety, so it really helps when my coworkers are explicit in their instructions and expectations.
They respect my boundaries.
Autistic individuals may need more personal space or may not always want to engage in small talk.
Autistic individuals may need more time to process information or may have a slower response time.
They offer support.
If I'm struggling with a task or social interaction, my colleagues could offer assistance or guidance in a supportive manner.
By following these practices, my colleagues could help create a positive and inclusive work environment where I feel valued and supported. It takes a little extra effort, but it's worth it to have a workplace where everyone can thrive.
At work, when my supervisor told me she picked up potential Autism traits I panicked. However, I felt calmer when she told me she would support me any way she can to help feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed at work. She told me that my potential Autism does not define me and is only an aspect to me.
I wondered why I had a meltdown in the toilets afterwards. I wanted my work team to recognise my autism traits so they’d understand why I look ‘dazed out in my own world’, why when they set me a task I have so many questions about specifically how to do them and that they’d stop prying me about why I do certain things differently. So now my supervisor ensured me I have that support, why did I leave the room shaking and feeling ashamed?
Then I realised. People without autism like to reassure someone ‘it’s okay, you can’t even tell, you have so much more to you than your autism!’
I’m sure they mean good at heart but the problem is, they’re making out Autism to be something negative. Something separate from us. Something we can suppress. Something we can outgrow from. Something shameful.
They’re missing something crucial. Autism is my identity. Not a burden I carry around. Not a disease that needs curing. Not something that disables me or something I want to suppress. And most definitely not something I’m ashamed of. My Autism is me. If you separated it from me, what would be left?
My supervisor said you should use person first language: ‘a person with autism.’ I said no. As someone with autism, I prefer the label autistic. She compared my response to calling someone with a hearing impairment a ‘deaf person.’ The difference is, being deaf doesn’t define a person. It’s one physical aspect, that negatively effects someone’s life.
Autism is someone’s entire identity. It shapes everything about them. We don’t want it fixed. The deaf analogy used by my supervisor, really reflects the negative perception people have of people with autism. When in fact, they’re are so many things I love about myself that would be absent without my autism. The struggles I have are usually to do with neurotypicals not understanding me, not because I am autistic. Furthermore, I love being different. You should too! It’s a rare thing and can be absolutely used to our advantage.
People that state you should use person first language when referring to autistics, are almost never autistic. It’s time we are listened to.
Next time someone corrects me about my own identity, and next time they try to do it to you, express loudly with a smile ‘no, I am autistic and proud.’