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Autism in the Workplace II - The Sequel.
#thread #autism #autistic #Neurodiversity #pda #aspergers #HumanResources /1
I'm going to carry on my thread from last night and look at some more ways that #autism and the world of work interact. I can't desk for all #autistic people and am basing this on my own experience, reading and listening. /2
Work cliques and politics. My heart feels heavy even mentioning this, as it can be so corrosive to #autistic people (and pretty detrimental to neurotypical folk too), but it needs airing and discussion. /3
I haven't got much experience first hand of this, but it is extremely common. The tribal nature of friendship groups in schools never really goes away, and the 'clique' is its adult incarnation - closed off little sects with their own rules, jokes and language./4
If the workplace itself, with its mystifying lingo, jargon and unwritten rules (just bloody write the rules down and stick with them) is hard on #autistic people, then this is where it gets meta, like in the movie Inception - layers over layers over layers... /5
Because the communication rules in these cliques will be different to those in the workplace as a whole, which are different to the wider world's rules. It's mind-boggling and impossible for many #autistic people to navigate. These cliques can be totally impenetrable. /6
This can segue with another scourge of workplaces - bullying. This is a huge problem in workplaces for #autistic people and contributes massively to the issues many of us have with holding down a job. /7
#autistic people often present as different in some way. Even those proficient at masking will let it slip sometimes (which is enormous fun, when it happens... 😕) and will therefore present a difference that can be taken advantage of. /8
#autistic people are generally pretty vulnerable. Not necessarily physically, but we can be taken advantage of very easily, and used by people of dubious nature as unwitting pawns in their weird machinations. /9
This #autistic vulnerability stems from, I think, a combination of general wariness of all people and our exhaustion with social interaction. These in conjunction mean we're prone to attaching to seemingly friendly, positive people, as they offer a respite. /10
We can, and I'm generalising alarmingly here, 'fall for' people pretty quickly. Not necessarily romantically, just in terms of the relief of finding someone who *doesnt* exhaust you. This is fine and dandy it this other is nice and honourable. It's awful if they're not. /11
Thus #autistic people can be taken advantage of by people whose primary motivation is elsewhere, as we may be prone to bending over backwards for them,which they could use to their advantage but not ours. /12
I hope I'm not generalising too much - let me know if I'm talking nonsense. These are just my observations. /13
Another potential cause for prevalence of #bullying is the #autistic difficulties of seeing things from another's point of view. Basically, unless we are unpleasant and act in bad faith ourselves, we cannot easily conceive of others acting in this way. Or so it seems to me. /14
So if people are going to act unpleasantly, #autistic people may not realise it until too late, as we find it hard to understand why anyone would act in such a way, if we would not act like that ourselves. This means bullying can begin almost before we even notice. /15
Then if an #autistic person wants to highlight that this bullying is happening, they are easily dismissed by a disinterested or hostile employer, because they're autistic - they must have misunderstood. Multiply this if you are female, non-binary or a person of colour. /16
All in all, workspaces can be extremely hostile to #autistic people. But if things go well, then there's always a chance of promotion and leadership. This can present issues of its own. /17
I'd say a lot of #autistic people will get promoted, as we are more than capable of succeeding in workplaces in terms of our ability to do the work. But promotion can compound the issues I've already described as things get higher pressure and responsibilities build. /18
I was promoted to being Head of Department once, feels like aeons ago now. I'm not any more, as I stood down a few years ago. It was too much to handle, and my existing struggle, which had been undetected up to that point, became loudly and overbearingly present. /19
I'm not saying for a moment that #autistic people can't be promoted, just that it's possible that hitherto unrealised problems below the surface can erupt horribly when under that extra scrutiny and pressure. /20
And leadership and management bring their own problems - my own achilles heel was team morale, as I literally had no idea what it was from one day to the next. This isn't a great situation to be in. All the communication problems I've discussed earlier will come into play. /21
#autistic leaders may need types of support that you may not usually expect to provide, as *their* supervisor, for them to thrive. I'm not convinced that there's much understanding of that, primarily because of attitudes towards disability. /22
There's an undeniable belief that #autistic people can't possibly do so well for themselves as to be promoted to a position of power! So if you *are* promoted, often there will be a lack of belief that you're autistic. (happily I haven't faced this myself, but its out there) /23
This one's tough to write. Might have a break for a bit, build a Lego tree or something.
There's definitely not enough support or training for #autistic team leaders, managers or employers out there, because it's long been assumed unnecessary. But we need it. At the centre of this is research, but research into adult autistic experience is thin on the ground.
Otherwise the world is saying, "oh, you're autistic? Sorry, but you'll never earn that much then." this doesn't seem quite fair for a society in 2019. /25
Now, the work social. Back in the day, pre diagnosis, I enjoyed going out on work socials, but I *needed* the alcohol to actually be able to cope. I realise this is a dangerous statement, but we need to talk about #autism and alcohol. /26
For me, and some other late- or non- diagnosed #autistic people I know, alcohol was my self medication to enable me to cope in social situations. Hence, lots of drunkenness at uni etc. I don't drink now at all, as it reacts with medication, and I no longer socialise much. /27
These days, the thought of socialising sober terrifies me. Even with my dearest, oldest and closest friends. I get exhausted quickly, need time out, its tough in everyone. But choosing to spend time with folks like @NialB and @InterestingLit is still lovely, as it's a choice. /28
Work socials are different. They have a secondary purpose - to heal, build or strengthen morale. In fact, that's probably sometimes the primary purpose. They can feel obligatory. And this is hard on #autistic people /29
Firstly, they eat into our precious down time. If we use our evenings to recharge (in a literal sense many neurotypicals wouldn't understand) then the thought of spending them out with work people, even if we want to, can be too much so we may shut down. Not turn up. /30
Secondly they are confusing. Confusing and strange things happen on work socials (!) that an #autistic person may struggle with. Seeing your colleagues drunk and uninhibited can be frightening if, like me, any change to the norm is upsetting. /31
(This is a very long thread. If you could scroll up to the top and give if a retweet I'd appreciate it) /32
Thirdly they involve us being out of our comfort zone, in bars and pubs we don't know. Frankly, they can be punishing for #autistic people. There has to be an understanding that autistic colleagues may struggle, or may resist. This *has* to be taken positively. /33
But instead things compound. I've heard that some #autistic people who can't do these socials get gradually ostracised, a sort of passive bullying by being left out of everything. This can be so depressing that they quit, or suffer terrible anxiety. /34
But let's face it, there is no general social understanding of #autistic adults, nor is there any training, nor is there any popular media like TV shows or documentaries. So what hope have people got? I guess that's why I've spent my summer doing this. /35
Anyway, that's me done for the time being. I'm back at work on Monday but will try to carry on with this stuff. If you can, I've got this thing where you can donate a coffee, thanks: buymeacoffee.com/UfTVnRY
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