I began my PhD 10 years ago. I've yet to meet a scholar or student who is openly autistic. I am literally the only one I know. I 'network' a lot, I've worked in 3 institutions.
Not one person.
Why is it so hard to find other autistic academics 'on the ground'?
It's highly stressful.
Anyone completing a degree knows that academic jobs are like gold dust.
There is huge uncertainty in the job market.
Autistic people find uncertainty difficult.
Again, it's competetive. /4
If you're in a permanent post & are already recognised in your field, perhaps you feel 'safe' enough to disclose. I don't know that many do.
What is at stake? /5
Would be lose out on job interviews if we disclosed?
Would the unique(-ish!) skills we possess be overlooked? /6
Hierarchies, politics, cliques, nepotism, unwritten rules.
The first presentation I gave was in Australia. It was awful. Someone filmed it. I said 'Umm' 50 times. Seriously. /7
Sometimes I have folk write to me after papers. I once gave a paper in another language. Members from the audience queued up afterwards. As a student, I never could have imagined. /8
Now I know I'm autistic, I can see why I feel safer this way. I like to have a plan and to stick to that plan. /9
I've started asking panel chairs to announce that I take questions one at a time. Thankfully, I don't care too much about what anyone thinks about that. /10
We tend to be innovators. We tend to be honest. We synthesise information. I don't even really know how I synthesise the way I do. It just happens.
Some people have to dig deep to do that. /11
We have so many skills that fit and that are in demand. Universities need staff who are ahead of the curve.
What if we were more vocal about what we are good at? /12
I worry about undiagnosed autistic academics.
I worry about undiagnosed autistic students.
As an autistic person, I worry about a lot of things.
But autism just isn't on anyone's radar. /13
If you're diagnosed, it's hard to get adjustments & even understanding.
But imagine having absolutely no idea you're autistic, getting angry & upset every day. Meltdowns but not knowing why.
I wish it was safer for us to talk about autism. On campuses, in meetings. In class.
I think there are many, many more of us.
I await the day I meet another openly autistic academic.