Would you put the word Aspergers down on your job application?

The power of the internet is truly amazing, for me it’s brought information, peace, opportunities, comfort, experiences, support, education, understanding and friends. (Those and so many more!) 

 Yesterday, I got to meet one those friends in the flesh, over a fabulously delicious skinny latte, with lashings of cinnamon generously sprinkled over a layer of froth. (No, that wasn’t a snip-it from the Marks & Sparks commercial, but me really appreciating a good mug of coffee!) Thanks Neil

 Star bucks was the ideal setting to chat to a new friend, one I had been wanting to meet for sometime but life being life just made it an impossible task… Well till now! 

 I suppose to classify Neil as a “New friend” isn’t quite right! You see, I’ve known Neil for sometime now, though conversations are only ever exchanged in the land of cyber-space. Neil, an adult on the autism spectrum who was given a late diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome, is a regular contributor in discussions and a massive supporter of the support page, ‘A boy with Asperger’s’ the Facebook page in which I created some few years back as an added addition to this very blog (hence the name of course). His opinions are always given in a frank and honest manner, his certainly given some great advice to many of our members, including that of myself. To be honest Neil has provided me with a sort of insight, highlighting how things could possibly be for my own child in adult life (an important issue to which I will elaborate on soon enough)! 

 Here I was, finally about to meet Neil who yes as mentioned has Aspergers. Just, after 1.30 lunch time I arrived to found Neil awaiting my arrival at the entrance. I knew it was Neil and his profile pic on Facebook had sod all to do with it! So… What gave him away? Only the fact he checked out my footwear as I entered through the door ensuring I had no sandals upon my feet (Yes, Neil hates sandals) There was no awkwardness having only previously met in cyberspace, well… this was the case for me and Neil seemed just fine too! Having got passed the shock that was caused by the similarities of my common London girl accent to that of someone you would likely find staring in the soap ‘Eastenders’ We chatted about life in general. Honestly, Neil is a genuine guy who is extremely interesting and speaks from his heart. He says exactly how it is (Which is an aspie trait you cannot fail to appreciate). 

 Everything Neil said was of interest, I found it a privilege to have him tell me about his life on the spectrum. He put the myths to bed and although I myself  always knew it possible, it was just so good to hear that the best part of his life has been a great success! How else can you describe a good education, (through it wasn’t always easy) a happy marriage and a beautiful son. However, there was something that had never been quite right! At no fault of his own Neil has never been able to hold down a job! Why because society wont allow him that right, the basic human right to make an honest living, to be the loving husband and father who provides and I should add ‘Wants’ to provide for his family… WHY? Its simple! Neil is not seen as a) a “Team-Player, b)  a big communicator  and c) one of them (you know part of the click) Yes, that’s right, those that will a least give him a chance assume his some kind of character from the film ‘Rain man’ sitting him in the corner alone, far away from his colleagues, drawing the conclusion that it’s for the best as this is what those with aspergers want and need to be social isolated from the ‘world… Well, isn’t It! 

This alone screams out loud how little those in the work place, especially that of senior staff really know about AS!

 Neil isn’t under-qualified in-fact he proves that yes, people with AS have great minds and given they put everything into it just as one would who isn’t on the spectrum, they can go on to obtain good qualifications, even having excelled in many areas of  their learning. Is it right that many people on the autism specturm or those with learning disabilities, mental health problems, especially those who’s condition is characterised but that of a difficulty with social communication, are taught by society at large that it is at there utter best interest to go to collage and then university, for god knows how many years, to obtain a degree only to face to total disappointment on the discovery that they are completely unemployable? Even when they do get their foot in the door ready for the challenge of the world of work, a large number of employees with a disability are treated just like my friend Neil (Though you haven’t yet heard the half of it)! Note: I’m not stating those with autism or any other form of disability shouldn’t go to university, obtain a degree! Maybe one day that of my own son will, through that’s his choice and his alone! Nor am I stating that all employers treat employees who have autism/aspergers or other, in this same manner… That would mean I was writing this in a discriminating way! I acknowledge that there are many that do not discriminate and actually do take the time to get autism aware and inflict that awareness on all of its employers! But sadly the number that do not are still far to high, just ask Neil or better still,  just go back a few months when MP Philip Davis outrageously called for all disabled to work for less then the minimum wage… Something he must have unquestionably considered fair in his discriminating little brain! 

 Neil’s last job ( in IT) saw him and around approximately fifteen other employees, employed on a fixed term contract! Neil once again was sat in a corner, left to his own devices. Where was the structure? Of course there wasn’t any. As a woman who isn’t on the spectrum, though I often like to be left to my own devices, I like to know exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing, how, when and how long for in order for me to do it and do it well, who don’t? For someone like Neil this is imperative! This didn’t happen, like many people with a social communication difficulty he didn’t feel to ask, he didn’t want to, this wasn’t the comfortable thing to do. Failing to see that In-fact Neil was human and would kind of appreciate come social interaction… No one took notice! The results… Neil’s work wasn’t at its finest (but still good I must add). 

 The very end result…

You guessed it, (If, u didn’t after such a long rant then you’re clearly not following.)  Neil’s contract came to an end as planned and just as it did for those fifteen others! Well, fair game then, a contract ending is just that, a contract ending! Where is the problem? Here’s the problem… The other fifteen, all except Neil that is, found themselves happily celebrating the fact they immediately had their contracts renewed for a much longer period of time by their once more praising boss. What a sack of crap!!! Seriously can you imagine how that must have felt? Maybe It felt something like how my own son felt when he was taught in isolation, away from others, left to his own devices, maybe it kinda resembled that same feeling like when my son was told he wouldn’t be allowed to attend educational trips or participate in activities alongside that of his peers! My point… From class room, to office, child to adult discrimination due to others inability to except the person you are, that of disability discriminate still delivers that same devastating blow! Was it Ok, after all the contract had come to a timely end? Crap! This was wrong and Neil for one knows it. Lets not forget its not his first job and likely wont be that of his last! He was told, Sorry you are not much of a team player and yes your work wasn’t always up to scratch. The fact is, having they had made the work place that bit more accessible, made adaptions allowing for his Aspergers from the word go, with the added courtesy of  some instructions, which would have been much appreciated, Neil would have produced the work expected and would likely have been a great deal happier in his working environment!

 My very last point… Promise!

 Not only did I learn from Neil that my son could possible get married, have children, ride a motorbike and hate sandals as much as him! I also learnt he could possible found himself unemployable and yet again the target of discrimination. Yes, my child may have got in to our desired school but like Neil showed me… To get into his desired job is something his yet to face! 

 Neil is looking to make a stand! His words to me, “I want to change things so children like your son don’t have to grow up and be treated in the same way!” My opinion… That was spoken with passion! Please help. I don’t often plea for your help (Ok, Ok excluding that of the Mad blog awards) but this is so very important and its life changing for him and so many others. Neil is searching for other adults both young and old who have autism or other related conditions to get in touch. He wants to collect your stories and get them heard… I guarantee that this will be a campaign he will fight to the bitter end but to do it alone just makes it harder! Neil is looking for people who feel they were discriminated against at work due to their disability, who wants change and wants it with a passion.

 

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Claire Parkinson
I’m a mother to three gorgeous children, one (my eldest) has a diagnosis of Aspergers
Claire Parkinson

Claire Parkinson

I’m a mother to three gorgeous children, one (my eldest) has a diagnosis of Aspergers

0 thoughts on “Would you put the word Aspergers down on your job application?

  • July 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm
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    I think if you can’t hide it and you don’t expect to be able to function on the same level as the other employees holding your job, then you need to reveal that either on the application or up front in the interview. An employer has a right to know if special arrangements are going to be needed in order for you to work for them and decide if those concessions are something he can or can’t make. Do you really want a job working for a company who you had to lie to or withold information from in order to get the job? I don’t, I’ve always been straight up with employers about special concessions I need and sometimes I got hired and sometimes I didn’t but when I did get hired it was much easier to do the job knowing I had nothing to hide.

  • July 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm
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    How “not up to scratch” was he? There’s no use in fighting the system for something you’re not a perfect fit for. He should instead look for a job with structure that doesn’t focus on popularity. Maybe even starting his own business.

  • July 19, 2011 at 8:19 am
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    @omgroxie@xanga – LOL, I’m lazy too :p. I think it depends on the job, especially sales where you need to interact. Certain jobs, you won’t have to focus on dealing with people and don’t require much skill. I would focus more on the positives when putting stuff like that on your resume. Everyone has problems, and if it’s not going to influence your work performance in a bad way, don’t bother putting it down. There are people who are so called average and are the worst employees ever.

  • July 19, 2011 at 1:23 am
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    @BimmerPhile@xanga – Even if you push yourself, it’s super hard with someone on the spectrum to interact with people due to the fact that the average Joe can pick up on the fact there is something different. As someone on the spectrum, I know that. I’ve lost jobs and didn’t get through the interviews because of that fact. I try my hardest to get through them, but no. 

  • July 18, 2011 at 11:51 pm
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    Sorry to sound mean, but failing to keep a job due to not making an effort to interact and communicate with the coworkers (for business purposes) isn’t something that can be blamed on discrimination.  Yes, you can feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable about it (I used to) but it’s a choice to FORCE yourself to do what is necessary, even if you hate it.

  • July 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm
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    This is really a tricky question.  What if you don’t put it down, but get fired due to actions caused by Asperger sypmtoms?  If you had disclosed it and the firm discriminated against you, you would have legal recourse maybe.  But, if you don’t disclose it and you’re terminated due to something you could not help due to Aspergers, they can always argue that you never told them.  Remember, those with disabilites have some protections by law. 

    It’s interesting, but tricky.

  • July 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm
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    I have had trouble in employment situations but I never know if it’s because of my aspergers syndrome, cataract glasses, or bipolar.  Working from home is pretty much my only feasible option.

    The silver lining on all of this is aspies with computer skills can pick up software development work from home pretty easily (though they will probably have to start out doing it for little money).  And there are lots of branches, some might like 3D modeling, others database query language, while others prefer to optimize algorithms, etc..

    I would definitely would like to get in touch so you could PM me the details.

  • July 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm
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    I have dyspraxia and another condition (cannot spell this one)  I do put about my disability on application forms,    not many people have heard of the condtion and always get put on the spot at interviews (if I get any)      (try to explain it postive can be quite difficult)  strenghs and weaknesses without lying.

    Even though I have been to job clubs and have had mixed reviews and arguements whether or not I should disclosed it,    as for my CV it is the same thing do I put it on.

    I just struggle even getting my foot back in the door,  sometimes I have worked all temporary jobs doing data entry.   (even doing charity work, placements)  paid work will help boost my self esteem more.

    I do believe that there are employers out there who would give me a chance  (paid temporary work,  to proof myself)   

  • July 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm
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    My thoughts on the lead question is that not only would I not put it on an application but I would not even get it officially diagnosed.  One learns to hide such things even when they are not entirely 100% aware of what they really are until later in life.  (of course, having a rare personality type helps with this)  The last thing anybody wants is to be viewed as the company “retard” (hey, I call it how I see it) or the guy that “just isn’t all there”.  Not that they want to be seen as just like anybody else exactly either.  No.  Like anybody else, they want to be seen as extraordinary.  They want to shine.  They want to be appreciated for the work that they do even if they might not always handle compliments well.   As per your post, I can certainly understand the difficulty of giving your best effort and getting the short end of the proverbial stick as your thanks.  Personally, I have been told I was one of the best workers while simultaneously having some of my responsibilities removed.  It isn’t fair and it isn’t right.  What it is, is life.  It’s brutal but it’s true and there is often little one can really do about it.

    @SasGal@xanga – Where is this lab you speak of?  

  • July 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm
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    There are actually jobs out here at the lab where said they prefer people who are in the high functioning level of the spectrum.  One of our local autism awareness charities works very closely with them to find applicants who are qualified.  

  • July 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm
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    I skimmed that, didn’t read it. (tl;dr I’m lazy) but to answer your question, I don’t have aspergers but if I did, no I wouldn’t put it on a job application. That would be like if I wrote “I’m bipolar” on a job application. No offense but that severly decreases my chances of getting hired. Is that awful? Yes. But true? Also yes. People look down on you and think of you as a less qualified worker for those reasons. Can they say that’s their reasoning for not hiring you? No, that’s illegal. But that doesn’t mean it’s not the reason.

    That’s the kind of thing you should keep to yourself in most employment circumstances, unless you require special needs due to your illness. Which I do not, I do not want any special treatment.

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