The first challenge people with autism face is getting their foot in the door in the workplace to begin with. While much has been done to reduce the stigma of autism in recent years, some employers are still hesitant to hire people with autism. Some industries and some positions that are highly demanding or highly regulated could get a big wave of bag publicity if an emergency should occur due to having an autistic person in a position above their capabilities. A good strategy for those with autism is to get a strong understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, research positions that match, and applying for those positions. It is also important to keep one’s chin up if they are not hired for the first job they interview for because that happens to those without autism too all the time.
After a person with autism is hired then comes the challenge of deciding whether or not they should disclose their autism at work. Some people with autism may even choose to disclose this prior to the interview process, but many choose to wait until after. Some potential benefits of disclosing autism are additional legal protections, more understanding from the company on potential accommodations that can help make the job easier, and less stress from people not having to “hide this big secret.” Some potential risks include a lack of understanding, difficulty in being able to fit in socially, and increased worry that an employer may be prejudiced against those with autism.
Whether or not a person chooses to disclose their autism at work, there are other things they can do to help them succeed at work. Finding a mentor is a good idea to help learn the company culture faster. And taking lots of notes is always helpful!