For the autistic person whose disability is perceived as “invisible,” the idea of disclosing their ASD diagnosis can be daunting. Here are some general guidelines if you want to disclose in the workplace:
1) Consider the reasons for disclosure. Our employers most likely have little to no understanding of autism. If we disclose, we will most likely be the ones who must come up with our own accommodation solutions.
2) Consider when. Disclosing during an interview might prevent us from getting a job, but disclosing after receiving the job might cause the employer to micromanage us into being fired or quitting. Some prefer to share right away to get accommodations immediately; others prefer to “prove” their skill in the workplace before coming out.
3) Consider how. If you are disclosing in an interview, we might bring a short and clear list of accommodation needs. Afterward, email HR and your supervisor with this list attached. If you were diagnosed later and were already employed, the casual approach might work: “Hey, would you mind dimming the lights a bit. I’m actually on the autism spectrum, and these lights make it hard to focus.” Depending on your accommodation needs, we can keep it casual or bring a short list with us for a scheduled meeting with our employer.
4) Consider a new job. While easier said than done, even though we should be protected under the Disabilities Act, some workplaces are just not a healthy fit for us. Even so, try looking for a new job before quitting the old one.