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How Do I Disclose My Autism Diagnosis in a Work Setting?

How Do I Disclose My Autism Diagnosis in a Work Setting?

When you are a young adult on the autism spectrum, one of the toughest questions you may ask yourself is: How Do I Disclose My Autism Diagnosis in a Work Setting?

You may be nervous to be vulnerable to the thoughts and judgments of others. At the same time, disclosing your ASD can open doors to accommodations for accomplishing job activities, educating others about autism, and the chance to be your authentic self. 

If you are currently seeking a job or considering disclosing your diagnosis to an employer, read these tips for a smoother process.

Why Disclosing Your Diagnosis Can Help

A main reason why you might consider telling your employer about your autism diagnosis is at the highest level. Letting your employer know what you need will allow you to perform better, and with less stress. 

For instance, if you are easily distracted or overwhelmed by sounds in the workplace, requesting remote work days or a more private environment could be an effective accommodation. You might also ask for:

  • Lists of tasks and deadlines due to challenges with executive functioning skills
  • Longer times to process necessary information for the job
  • Change in work schedule
  • Job coaching
  • Equipment or devices needed to complete job duties

In addition to accommodations, disclosing a diagnosis allows you the freedom to be yourself and reduce the exhaustion that comes from daily masking. You might even be able to educate your colleagues on autism and change their assumptions about it. 

Many workers with autism hesitate to share their diagnosis in fear of repercussions and potential discrimination. Though this is a risk, by not disclosing it, you are . And, would you actually want to work for a company that discriminates in that way?

What The Law Says

. This means anyone with a disability is able to request a workplace accommodation, and they may not be fired for something related to their disability. 

The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is similar, but refers solely to education and the role of advocate often falls on the parent. Under ADA, it is the person with the disability who must be their own advocate at work. 

In order to reap the benefits of the law, a person must disclose their diagnosis, or simply that they have a disability. Once you have told the employer the information, .

This also means it is you who must request the accommodations you need. Though not every accommodation will be met at the level you are potentially hoping for, as long as the employer provides what is needed for an equal opportunity, they have adhered to the law.

The Best Time to Tell an Employer

There are , and each individual person and situation will determine the best way to go about having a conversation about your autism.

  • Before you start the job

Some applicants choose to disclose their autism diagnosis in their cover letter or at the initial interview. This is . However, it also allows you to know you’ve put everything on the table and have nothing to hide. In addition, if your disability is evident in an interview setting, this would provide your potential employer with a more well-rounded look. At the interview itself, expounding on the diagnosis and the strengths you have as a result can show self-awareness, self-confidence, and honesty.

  • As you start the job

Applicants who choose to wait until they already have the job enjoy the benefits of   being able to prove themselves to their employer and colleagues prior to disclosing a diagnosis. Also, at this point, any change regarding your employment cannot be related to your disability according to ADA. However, if you wait until this point, you may feel some anxiety while starting the job.

  • When a problem arises

This is the latest point when an employee would disclose a diagnosis, and it is usually due to a need for accommodation or a mistake made due to a symptom of autism. The benefit of waiting until this point is the amount of time an employee can avoid any sort of judgment or assumptions. However, an employer might wish you would have shared the information sooner in order to provide those accommodations.

How to Share the Information

Whenever you do decide to share your autism diagnosis and how it might affect your needs at work, prepare ahead of time. Consider that would help you. Have the documentation of your diagnosis available in case it is requested to make the process more efficient and display your organization skills. 

When you do disclose the information, it is up to you how much information you would like to share. You can , or you can share in greater detail.

Transitioning into adulthood is hard for anyone, but especially those on the autism spectrum who have spent years supported by educators, therapists, and parents. If you are unsure about your next steps as a young adult with autism, reach out here to ýapp to discuss opportunities available to you.