All it takes for many autistic people is for a little understanding and some minor tweaks to the working environment and you have people who will work tirelessly and with passion in their roles, Dan Sohege writes.
First published in August 2020.
Something I have noticed since being diagnosed as autistic, and being more open about that diagnosis, is the way in which people assume that I cannot, or should not do things, particularly in relation to jobs I have had. The other is a complete misconception about how I work.
I have two jobs, one is as the Fundraising Manager for an internationally renowned heritage site, the other is running a human rights consultancy dealing with policy, campaigns, etc, for a number of organisations. I also run Stand For All and am doing a Master’s.
None of this is a boast. I admit I have “weaknesses”, but, as per the old clichéd interview technique, they are also strengths. For last week and a bit – basically since it all really kicked off about refugee Channel crossings, I have been operating on roughly 3-hour sleep per night.
I won’t lie, I am burned out. Hence my current working environment. I am also (and again not a boast) very good at what I do. Being autistic is a plus here. Yes, I take on too much at times, and yes, I feel every single pain of the people I advocate for, but I am good at this.
All it takes are some minor adjustments to working space, maybe being reminded to eat occasionally and possibly hiding the vodka, and I can function. Burn out is a bitch. I have been there too many times, but it isn’t a reason to write off autistic individuals.
All it takes for many autistic people is for a little understanding and some minor tweaks to the working environment and you have people who will work tirelessly and with passion in their roles.
As always, all of this is just my personal experience. I am not talking on behalf of everyone on the spectrum, but for me being autistic is a strength. I see solutions others don’t. I can connect patterns faster than most. I am good at what I do.
Voices are a particular problem for me. An open plan office is a nightmare. Likewise bright lights and the hum of electrical bits and pieces, but we have learned that working remotely works. So, for most roles I am suited for it shouldn’t make a difference.
Covid-19 showed that, when necessary, businesses can implement alternate working strategies quickly and effectively. If we do that for everyone, not just autistic individuals, I guarantee that companies will be able to employ people who are better than they could ever imagine.
Just stop writing people off because they don’t want to take part in the office party, or need minor adjustments to how we do things.
We are skilled.
We bring new ways of thinking.
We are passionate.
We are not kids who have to be coddled.
Just let us do our jobs.🔷