When is a good time to share the fact that one is autistic?

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amplastow
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18 Nov 2018, 3:09 pm

Hello Everyone

So I am coming to terms with the fact that working in the professional world involves acting "normal", but I am considering honesty instead.

This is what is happening that has lead me to create this post. I am an engineering student and I recently attempted to take a temporary position as a CO-OP engineer in my hometown. Unfortunately, I have been turned down for the position. The interview did not go especially well, my responses to my prospective manager were curt and simple. A lot of pressure was put one me to secure this position, by my academic advisor and external circumstances (i.e. I would like to be a researcher some day, as things stand, I have been right on track grade-wise until this semester, taking a CO-OP would have mean a chance to retake a class in which I am simply not excelling). I realized I was in trouble when the interviewer stated "we need people who network and communicate effectively, we need people who work well with other people". At which point, I realized I was in trouble.

I have classmates at my University who have been accepted for the same position, none of which had so much as an interview, they were just accepted for the position after a phone call. One of which was not a particularly talented engineer, but he seemed sociable enough. I understood why I would not be chosen for the position and this same individual would be selected. I just finished chatting with another student from my university who just so happens to be taking the same position. The funny thing is, the student is a freshmen. Which is hilarious. That individual should have barely touched on basic physical principles that are critical to developing engineering knowledge, much less have the capacity to apply those principles to specific engineering problems, such as materials science, coding, or mechanical systems. I am a junior, who lives in the area. I have demonstrated my competence.

This is the background that leads up to this question, no I am not interested in beguiling you fine people with how much my life sucks (I know some of you may be inclined to respond "this guy is an engineering student, he should have his whole life cut out for him" or "this guy has no idea how good he has it", this is not about a good or bad situation, but about ensuring I am making the best of what I have).

Autism is stigmatized. Some of my roommates have used the term "autist" as a synonym for "retard", "incompetent individual" or have directly stated that autism implies retardation. I have nothing against individuals who are on the lower end of the IQ percentiles, but I am loathe to share, particularly amongst other individuals in my field, simply because engineering is so strongly associated with intellectual rigor.

I am looking for some advice. I have been pondering. What if I simply stated this during the interview, promptly after being told about the importance of social skills: "I have a form of autism, I cannot connect with other people as easily as I would like simply because I operate on different principles in the social realm. I am capable of having close relationships and consider myself fairly likable, but I am generally seen as aloof by most individuals. That will change dramatically with time". That is not to say I would say the same thing as soon as the opportunity presents itself in a job interview, but, if an interviewer implies that I may not have the social skills for the job, perhaps I should share.

Since then, a professor from my department has already guessed my diagnosis and advised me to "fake it" and suggested I read a few books on body language so I may sufficiently emulate and read neurotypical body languge.

Thoughts? should I be open about my syndrome, or do my very best to hide it?

This is certainly not something I am limiting to potential employers: professors, coworkers, friends, or people with whom I am romantically interested are all the types of people with whom I would be inclined to share.



Max1951
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18 Nov 2018, 7:27 pm

amplastow wrote:
Hello Everyone


Thoughts? should I be open about my syndrome, or do my very best to hide it?



Odd and highly appropriate that you posted this question in the LGBT forum. As gay guys like me spend a lifetime hiding themselves from the world. Putting our lights under a bushel basket, to express it biblically. And I'm a spectrum dweller too, but I don't tell anyone. So how will I ever make my unique contribution to society, when I hide my uniqueness.

It takes real courage to be yourself. Let them know who you are. THe paragraph you wrote on how to do it is right on!.



BaronHarkonnen85
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22 Nov 2018, 11:36 am

The Machiavellian in me tells me you should hide it. Do what that guy suggested: get books on body language and fake it.


It is unfortunate that so many make assumptions about us. Many will assume it means you are less intelligent or something.


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d057
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23 Nov 2018, 9:52 pm

People can be very judgmental when they find out someone has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. That is the worst thing about social interaction and making friends.

BaronHarkonnen85 wrote:
The Machiavellian in me tells me you should hide it. Do what that guy suggested: get books on body language and fake it.


It is unfortunate that so many make assumptions about us. Many will assume it means you are less intelligent or something.


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amplastow
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05 Dec 2018, 6:44 pm

A note to the fine people on this website who have taken it upon themselves to indulge in my ramblings, I did not realize I had posted in the LGBT community. I am new here and forgetful.