Autism and employment -- Making work better
I will start this post on Autism and employment by saying we don’t do employment for Autistic people well. So many Autistic people are unemployed, underemployed and / or work in unsuitable jobs.
Thankfully, on a personal level, i have made a career for myself in the professional world. This post will be a mixture of reflecting on how I got to where I am as well as strategies which might help others in their employment journey. I recognise that Autistic people often face significant barriers to finding and keeping a job and just building job readiness skills is probably not going to result in employment where the recruitment processes (interview particularly) and the workplace is not ‘Autism-friendly. It is usually more complex than people just needing a positive attitude and some determination.
This week marks my ten year anniversary of being a public servant. My work history started in 1992 when I was 17. I worked in a fast food restaurant. I hated the work. I didn’t know what to say to my colleagues outside of work. I was there two years and was promoted to a junior manager role. Then a new store manager joined who was a creepy abuser and he subjected me and other colleagues to sexual violence. Not knowing what to do, I quit my job. My life at that point went rapidly downhill. A few years later and I was in a desperate situation as an ex-prisoner with severe mental illness. I had made so many errors and poor choices that I was determined to change. I enrolled in university and started looking of work.
I had a huge degree of perfectionism and was terrified of making a mistake. A fairly easy dishwashing job in a restaurant resulted in some much stress and perfectionism that I became unwell with psychosis. I didn’t give up though. Over the next few years I did what I would now describe as ‘controlled challenges’. I took on incrementally more difficult employment situations and gained confidence. After building my confidence I applied for a graduate job in a Government Department. I had been undertaking study while preparing my employment journey and applied for the graduate job with a Masters degree in Fine Arts. I completed all the recruitment criteria and I was successful. In my whole life I had never worked in an office and I had significant barriers to employment. I moved interstate to take up my job. The change was very scary but I was moving from a world of poverty, misery and a lack of choices to what I imagined woful be middle-class heaven.
I loved my job in the public service as soon as I started. There were challenges but there were huge benefits too.It must be good as I have been there ten years and have been promoted twice – to the level I am happy to stay at. My world of work went from woeful but I now think it is quite wonderful. I love that I am a visible Autistic person with mental illness who has professional role. While there are a good many of us, not everyone is ‘out’ at work (which is often understandable due to concerns of stigma) and for some people they are told a lot of negative things about their capability to don’t think to try and join the workforce.
Read: the full article at Jeanette Purkis
Disability Employment Australia sources and promotes articles and information that we deem relevant and interesting for our members. The views represented in the news items are the authors and not necessarily that of Disability Employment Australia. Disability Employment Australia claims no authorship or ownership over the articles and does not gain financially from their promotion.
- No comments yet for this article.