Tuesday, May 10, 2016

To Disclose or Not to Disclose, That Is the Question

When it comes to work, people on the spectrum have to face the question of whether or not to disclose their being on the spectrum. Naturally, this is going to vary from person to person and workplace to workplace. For many it will make sense to disclose because it helps explain all their seemingly strange behaviors. It may create just enough sympathy for someone to pay attention to the fact that they are extremely talented.

I have tried disclosure, and at least in my case, I have had nothing but bad luck from it.

I disclosed when I was a lecturer at the University of North Texas at Dallas. My review to determine if my contract would be renewed was revised twice to give me a lower score to ensure that it would be low enough for them to justify not renewing my contract. While there has been recent discussion of the lack of ideological diversity on campuses, we have to realize that ideology is not the only different way of thinking that supposedly pro-diversity universities oppose.

I disclosed when I was an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University. In all of the years of teaching as an adjunct, I have always been hired for the Fall and Spring semesters. That's pretty much how every university does it. Yet, SMU did not have me back in the Spring after I disclosed in the Fall. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, one of my students complained that I was teaching at all precisely because I am on the Spectrum. Again, liberal diversity on our campuses doesn't apply to neurodiversity, but only to the most superficial of differences.

Most recently I disclosed when I was hired as a proofreader for a global benefits company. I disclosed on a Friday and was fired on Wednesday because, "We have no intention of accommodating you." I am choosing not to disclose who it is for now because in this case there was a clear and obvious violation of the ADA. And when I do disclose who it is, it will be much more public than this little blog.

So my experience with disclosure is mostly negative. I have discovered that telling people will result in people trying to get rid of you. While one may not be all that surprised that something as social as teaching didn't work out, but even something where I didn't have to actually interact with anyone in a social way, but just work at something I was good at, didn't work out. This is why I have determined to take up not just the issue of autism and autism acceptance, but in particular autism acceptance in the workplace.

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