How to tell an Employer you are Autistic:

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We’ve scanned the job website, we’ve found a job that we wish to apply for and now comes the part where we fill in the application form. Ohh the dreaded application form part. After filling in the easier bits, when we get down to the box where it says do you consider yourself to be disabled do you tick that box or not? Do you highlight it on your resume? Do you arrange for a small plane to fly by the prospective offices or do you hire a flash mob to dance it out? Hmm so many options? 

But maybe the best time is during the interview process? Just a thought at this point. But still one worth considering. 

Anyway in this handy guide I lay it out in two easy steps and they are the following:

1. Choosing the right time:

I would say that you mention this as soon as possible, the disability discrimination act prevents employers from not hiring you based on your disability. Granted it can’t always protect you from not being hired, but wait until the part (the dreaded part) where you are asked

 

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Do you have any more questions? 

Prepare this bit before hand, maybe write down what you want to say and ask a family member or a friend to help you word it so that when you do say “Yes I am autistic, you only highlight the positives and that anything that aids you in performing the role to the best of your ability will on benefit them. 

Finding the right words:

You can’t burst out with a song and dance routine “Hey I’m Autistic future boss” because that’s not going to aid them in understanding what they can do for you. So you’d best pack up the smoke machine and stop making out that you are Bonnie Tyler in Total Eclipse of the heart video, pay your back up dancers and shimmy on out of there! 

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Maybe another approach is to like I suggested before, write it down either on a sheet of paper or in an email maybe if that’s the way you wish to proceed. 

The key points to highlight are not that you have autism but you are explaining what makes you autistic. 

  • how it affects you
  • how it can impact your work
  • how your employer can support you to reach your potential

Remember what you are explaining to them will need to be clear and concise so that you are hired and everyone benefits. 

 

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What hurdles do people with disabilities need to overcome to find employment?

What hurdles do people with disabilities need to overcome
to find employment?

Barriers essentially are internal or external:

Internal barriers :

Broadly include a lack of confidence, an impoverishment
of experience (you don’t know whether you’ll like something you’ve never
tried!), and fear around the unknown.

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In particular, for people with autism, the condition means they have
difficulties in interview settings and with social interaction which means
it is hard for them to be able to put their best foot forward and illustrate
their skill set.
External barriers :

Biggest barrier is fear on the part of employers – what
if it goes wrong? What if I have to counsel or terminate the employee? Is
the person going to be a liability? Are they safe, are they dangerous?
What will other staff members think?
Generally, there is a lack of awareness and understanding around the
needs of disabled employees, and reluctance to accommodate changes
in order to allow the hidden skills and abilities of neuro-divergent people
to flourish.
There is also a lack of understanding regarding the range of presentations
or span of the autism spectrum. No two people are alike and labels create
unfair misconceptions.

WHAT IS NEURODIVERSITY?

Neurodiversity refers to the concept where neurological differences are
recognized and respected as any other human variation.
Neurodiverse conditions include autism, Tourette Syndrome, attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and others.

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For many autistic people, neurodiversity is viewed as a concept and there
is a social movement that advocates for viewing autism as a variation of
human wiring, rather than a disease. Neurodiversity activists reject the
idea that autism should be cured, advocating instead for celebrating
autistic forms of communication and self-expression, and for promoting
support systems that allow autistic people to be accepted and live as
they are.

AUTISM
Autism is a lifelong neuro-developmental condition. It is characterised by
differences in behavior, social interaction, communication and sensory
processing. These differences can present people on the autism spectrum
with challenges in how they interact with their environment.
To receive a diagnosis of autism, these symptoms need to be evident from
childhood and impair the person’s daily functioning.

The word ‘spectrum’ is used to reflect the wide scope of differences in how
individual people experience autism and their environment.
While some people on the autism spectrum also have an intellectual
impairment or disability, many others have average intelligence, while
others have above-average intelligence.

People on the autism spectrum may exhibit non-typical skills and focus.
This can include:
• unusually intense or focused interests, including savant skills
• excellent memory skills
• high level of attention to detail, patterns and codes
• either difficulties or exceptional skills with organisation

WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF AUTISM?

The behavioural differences of many individuals with autism are so
apparent that it seems intuitive that the causes would also be obvious.
But research over the past 70 years has indicated this isn’t so.
Autism has no single, known cause. Current research suggests that both
genetics and environment play a role. There is no evidence that autism
is caused by a child’s upbringing or social circumstances.

There is no known cure for autism. However, an early diagnosis and
targeted intervention can assist in reducing the impact of a child’s autism
on their functioning.

An estimated one in 100 people has autism; that’s almost 230,000
Australians.

Males are 4 times more likely as females to be diagnosed with Autism.

Interview with my Mum

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Q1. Did you know much about autism before Nick got his diagnosis?

I was not aware that he had autism but I did suspect that this may be the case and it was myself that suggested to Nick to get a diagnosis albeit that he was nearly 40 years old. When he went to our then GP the GP tried to say that he doubted if Nick did have autism as surely it would have been picked up earlier. I suggested to Nick that he insisted on a specialist appointment so that he would know for definite.  The specialist confirmed what I had suspected.  I am disappointed that doctors don’t realise that there is a whole generation of adults who were never diagnosed as children and they are wondering why they are different.

Q2. Did you always think or have a sense that Nick might be autistic?

Nick from a very early age was ‘different’ to other children. He was an early learner, telling the time by the age of three and reading at four.  He would often walk around reading and would read at least one book per day.  However intelligent he was he did not thrive at school and was often bullied.  I reported this to his school but their reaction was not good (I don’t think that bullying was taken seriously 30 odd years ago!) I took Nick to numerous educational psychologists – one advised that he had low intelligence but would catch up! Another advised that he had issues with processing information but would ‘grow out of this’ by the age of 18!!! I got varying reports from other specialists but none indicated that he had autism – I accepted that they knew what they were saying as they were professionals. Nick’s struggles continued throughout his teenage years – the bullying continued and his studies suffered.  We (the family) tried our hardest to protect him but as the bullying mainly occurred at school, even though the school was aware the school system let him down.  One particular subject he found hard was maths so I organised for Nick to have private tutoring for maths and although his school didn’t want him to sit the maths exam (something to do with their stats) – I insisted he sat the exam – I got a lot of opposition from the principal but I stood my ground and well done to Nick as he passed the exam.

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Q3. Once Nick got his diagnosis did you feel a sense of relief or dread?

I was relieved for Nick as I hoped that he would be able to access professional help and this might assist him in understanding why he feels different to other people. I believe that Nick is still trying to know who he is in this world and looking at support from other groups.

Q4. What is daily life-like for you with Nick?

Nick lives with myself and his sister – we love him dearly but he doesn’t always let us in to his world – he likes to spend time on his own and we don’t always know what is going on in his brain. We try to help Nick with strategies on living in a highly complicated society and the world that Nick sees only as black and white. Our family is not the average 2 adults +2 children – its 3 adults living together and we do sometimes clash so we have family meetings where the three of us discuss any issues and try to see the other person’s point of view.  We are all working to be aware of what we can each do to make life better for each other. We have to think about how we talk to Nick as he is very sensitive and can sometimes take comments as criticism when they are just observations. Nick likes structure to his day and gets anxious if things that are planned get changed, sometimes this is inevitable but he gets stressed by the changes.  He likes his day planned, time for breakfast, what he has for breakfast, time for exercise, time for lunch and what to eat for lunch (and in what order he eats his food!) etc, etc. Changes to his routine can make a big difference to his mood and this then effects our moods.  He can appear to be sarcastic or rude at times, we are aware that he doesn’t mean to be but I am always conscious of what a stranger would think. We try to explain to him how his comments could seem to someone else.

Q5. Do you ever think that life would be easier if Nick wasn’t autistic?

Yes, certainly for Nick so that he wouldn’t have to constantly think about how he is perceived or worry that he might be upsetting someone. This is mentally exhausting for Nick, day in day out and as a consequence he suffers with depression and anxiety – he is struggling to find employment and the constant rejection makes matters worse. His passion is writing and I hope in time that he will find a job in media that he will enjoy and live a happy and healthy life accepting that we are all ‘different’ in some ways but we all have something to offer.

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Q6. How do you cope with having two disabled adults living with you?

Nick and Jenny have very different disabilities. Jenny is physically disabled after suffering a brain haemorrhage. However, they get on well and support each other.  My role is to support both of them in very different ways, and to be honest I don’t find this difficult.  I love them both very much. In fact, the three of us support each other.

Q7. What advice or tips can you give to other parents whose child is autistic on how to cope?

Early diagnosis is paramount. You need to be patient and never give up! When Nick was a child autism was less recognised and consequently there was little support.  Although I sought help it didn’t materialise into effective results for Nick.

Q8. Do you have a message for autistic parents?

Having an autistic child can be challenging so get all the support and information you can. Try to keep life as normal as possible and with the right help and support the future should be bright for them. Although autism is still not fully understood there are more opportunities than ever before to help autistic children to lead fulfilling lives.

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Autism Myths

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Myths about Autism.

Autism spectrum disorder comes with a whole host of myths and misconceptions. It is a disorder that has been very much
misunderstood in the past, from the concept of ‘refrigerator mothers’ to the idea that everyone with autism is like ‘Rain Man’

Myth – Kids with autism don’t want to make friends

In most cases, simply not true. There are some children and adults who
are very aloof and who choose to keep away from other people to a
great extent. But the majority of children and adults on the spectrum do
like to socialise. Being social is like a dance with very complicated steps
and often requires quick thinking. It can seem too hard. But slow the
dance down and explain the steps and our children can learn.

Myth – Autism is caused by bad parenting

Bad parenting will not help any child but it will not cause autism.
Many of us parents feel that we are not great at being parents because
our children are not responding to us as a typically developing child
does. This is very clear if we have several children and only one is on
the spectrum.

Myth – Just like Rain Man, people with autism have savant skills
Not all people can recite the phone book or tell anyone they meet on
what day of the week they were born. Certainly some people can do
some amazing memory feats, but this isn’t common.

Myth: All people with autism have the same skills and
difficulties

The facts: Although people with autism share difficulties in the core
areas of social-communication, restricted and repetitive behaviours and
sensory processing, every person with autism is unique and has different
abilities and interests. Many positive characteristics are common in
people with autism, such as the ability to focus intensely on detail and
learn about topics of interest.

Myth: Vaccinations cause autism

There is no reliable scientific evidence that childhood vaccinations cause
autism. There is reliable evidence that not vaccinating children has led
to an increase in preventable and sometimes life-threatening diseases.
One well-known but flawed research paper reported a link between
the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunisation. When the flaws in the
studies were revealed, the paper was later retracted. Several large-scale
studies have since examined the possibility of a link between MMR and
autism and have found no evidence to support the link.

Myth: All people with autism have an intellectual disability

Some people with autism also have an Intellectual Disability, however
others have an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) within the typical range or
higher.

Myths about autism.

Autism spectrum disorder comes with a whole host of myths and misconceptions. It is a disorder that has been very much
misunderstood in the past, from the concept of ‘refrigerator mothers’ to the idea that everyone with autism is like ‘Rain Man’.

Myth: Children with autism are more aggressive

As with other children there are those with autism who may shout or
hit out when they are distressed, but this is certainly not the case for
all children with autism. When it does occur, this challenging behaviour
is often related to a lack of alternative skills, or difficulties coping in the
sensory environment, regulating emotions or communicating needs.

Myth: People with autism do not experience the full range of
emotions

People with autism may have difficulty expressing emotions, or may
express them in a different way. Children with autism experience the full
range of emotions. It is common for people with autism to have difficulty
recognising and interpreting the emotions of others which can lead to
misunderstandings.

Myth: There is an autism epidemic

The way autism is diagnosed has changed; we now recognise a wider
range of characteristics as forming part of the autism Spectrum. It is
likely that many children who have an autism diagnosis today would
not have met the diagnostic criteria if they were assessed against our
previous definitions of autism. Also, as awareness increases, parents
and professionals are better able to identify early signs of autism and
are more likely to seek an autism assessment. There is not enough
evidence at this stage to say that the incidence of autism is increasing.

Myth: Autism is a childhood condition that can be outgrown or
cured

There is currently no known cure for autism, however, through
appropriate intervention children can acquire many of the skills they
need for a successful and full life. Although some proponents of certain
treatments may describe children who have been ‘cured’, it is more likely
that these children have been particularly successful in acquiring skills
which enable them to function more effectively through their everyday
life.

My SISTER

So today is the anniversary of my sister’s injury you can read about it here https://www.wren2rebuild.com/16-04-2003/ 

I just wanted to take some time out to say a few words about this. 

  1. My sister is awesome and whilst this injury and all that came with it was a complete shock and really tested our family, it never once broke us, in fact it made us stronger and more determined.

2. When Jen, came out of hospital finally and was allowed home, because I wasn’t working I became her carer, I wouldn’t change that for the world. It opened my eyes to how reliant someone in that position is on someone able-bodied, it taught me to be a better person and to have patience and understanding but also have a laugh when it was needed.

3. She never gave up and just sat back and said “Oh well it is what it is.” No! She pushed herself to become to person that she is today, she continues to push herself with her rehab, and is more determined that ever to walk again.

4. She is now a blogger, this is totally awesome as she can pass on and share her story with others as well as being that person that gives back what she had learned. 

5. Speaking of having a laugh during a serious situation “Mum will go mad when she see’s the blood on those net curtains!” (Jen will know what that means).

6. Fun fact I wanted a sister named Jenny. 

7. I will always have her back.

8. I will always support and love her

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Exciting News

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Coming up on this blog an exclusive interview with my mum, where she talks about what it’s like to live with an autistic adult and how it impacted her life.

This will be posted sometime next week

Thank you

giphy