“How I’m Improving the Workplace for Adults with Autism”
I was shunned and exploited in former jobs because I was different. My struggles inspired me to create change for other neurodivergent employees. Here’s how I’m doing it.
As a child, I was described as talkative, nosy, and bossy. I remember trying to make friends and then hearing those “friends” whisper to others that I was weird. Growing up, I often heard that I was resilient for enduring my outcast label and treatment.
These struggles continued into adulthood. At work, I was often reprimanded for spending too much time on one task and ignoring others. The first time I heard about autism or ADHD was in a college psychology course. I was a mother of a two-year-old and realized that the indications seemed to describe my child. Through his diagnosis of autism, I learned of my own.
An Unforgiving Workplace
I continued to learn about my diagnosis of autism after experiencing an unforgiving workplace that both shunned and exploited my differences. In one job, I was tasked with identifying stored materials and keeping correct records. My attention to detail found mistakes in others’ record keeping. Instead of being praised for this, I was written up for taking too much time in my section and purposely looking for colleagues’ errors.
At another job, my peers and I were asked during meetings to bring up ideas for improvements. After suggesting a few ideas, I was later pulled aside by my manager and told I needed to know my job better before speaking up.
Making a Difference
I’ve talked with other neurodivergent workers who had experienced similar issues in their organizations. I did not want my own children or others to endure this, so I asked: How can I make a difference?
I studied and became an industrial organizational psychologist and just finished my dissertation for a Ph.D. This career field helps organizations learn to improve the people component of the workplace and celebrate the strengths of employees with ADHD, autism, and more.
I found where my difference could make a difference!
Autism in the Workplace: Next Steps
- Download: What to Ask Yourself to Find the Perfect Job
- eBook: The Guide to Autism in Adults
- Read: Key Questions to Ask in an Interview to Gauge Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- Read: “Masking Is Another Undue Burden for Neurodivergent Women at Work”
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