Autism and search for job
Updated: Apr 1
The article is for autistic people who are looking for job, the employers who may encounter an autistic individual in their life and also for employers who are genuinely looking to hire people with autism spectrum disorder and make them part of their workforce.
I remember doing a number of interviews, both in person and on phone for different jobs. Majority of these interviews happened before I was diagnosed with Autism.
I run a small Instagram page and Facebook page in India to spread word around on autism and how life on the spectrum is.
As per latest statistics, it is said that 1 person in every 54 people is an autistic and many of them are left undiagnosed. Very few are diagnosed early in life. There is a possibility that someone in your family or extended family can be an autistic. Hard to believe but this is the truth.
Imagine living with a headache for years, there are times when it is very intense and then there are days when you don’t even know it is there, you kind of learn to live with it but it keep annoying you. You know something is wrong but, what it could be you are unable to explain. Now imagine a doctor telling you why it is there, what will be your first reaction? I guess you will feel relieved that now, you know what it is and one can work on it. This is how undiagnosed autism is. You know and you can feel something somewhere is not right (I am not saying it’s wrong, it just doesn’t feel right) and you want to make it right. But today we are not discussing about undiagnosed autism, I will share more about it some other day again.
Coming back to jobs and interviews, not everyone is born with a silver spoon, many of us have to make our own path, work hard for a degree, look for a job, earn a living and live life the way it is supposed to be done. Lucky are those who are provided with a well to do family where the children inherit the business and life goes by.
I come from a land of 1.3 billion people, the economy is in shambles, people claim it is growing. Jobs are less, job applicants are in thousands. There is a fight for the position, people with no idea of what the job is about are also applying, the job doesn’t pay as per international standards but work is work. Imagine you are an autistic and you have to fight through all this to get to that position, the idea in itself is anxiety inducing. The kind of anxiety that makes you curl in a ball and lie down for days.
Even if you survive all this and make it to the interviews, that is when other humans come in play. Most of these people who may be interviewing you will not be aware of your condition, they will have no idea about what autism is. They will bombard you with questions which may not mean anything or will be insignificant but they all are looking for an answer. They may not be able to pinpoint exactly what they want to hear but they will keep asking you more and more and inside you might be thinking what exactly do they want, it may trigger anxiety or it may piss you off and believe me these are the exact thing they are not looking for.
Before writing this, I had a word with my fellow autistic friends and I asked them about their experiences. Most of them explained that they were asked questions about themselves and how they would handle a particular problem accept for one person who was from IT industry and he was given a task which he had to complete. I read another article where Microsoft did the same with an autistic individual in their US office and gave her a series of tasks which determined her problem solving skills.
The reason why I am mentioning these two different experiences is that the world must understand that the number of autistic people out there is very high and there is a probability you may encounter one or more people in your life who are on the autism spectrum.
The way an autistic looks and perceives the world is different than how a neurotypical will do. This determines how an autistic will interact with you as well. You can’t expect a person who can’t see to write for you in the English script, they will use Braille language, similarly a person who can’t speak will use sign language to communicate or maybe they can write it down but each and every individual communicate differently.
Autism is a hidden disability, in some cases, it is so well hidden that many don’t even know they have it and are being forced to live a life like the rest of the neurotypical world.
Large or small organizations must understand that they have to create an inclusive environment, not only on papers but also on a day to day basis. Make sure when you are going to take interview at least when the candidate has announced that they are autistic you prepare for it in advance. HR and management staff members should construct interview in a manner where they understand the candidate’s real capacity rather than just believing in what they have to say.
We all know the world is filled with many great orators who don’t have anything to offer in real but just because they speak well and are able to convince you. It is like going to the mall and the salesperson selling you something which you don’t need or can’t afford but you buy it anyways only to realize the mistake later.
Many autistic individuals are not being used to their capacity and if you allow and give them the space to grow, it will only benefit you. If you look at the history of the world and read about various inventions and inventors, you will know. These people thought outside the box and didn’t go with the flow. Imagine having a workforce of such people, these are the people who will solve the problem of war, hunger and disasters.