I feel it necessary to raise some concerns with you now that we have worked together for some time. This is a vulnerable conversation for me to bring up as an employee, but I feel it must be had now in order for us to do our best work together. I would like to divulge now that I am autistic. I know employers are generally not allowed to ask such things or make such inquiries, but for the sake of open communication and doing a good job, I want to make sure we can have a dialogue about the way this impacts my work and may shape our interactions.
Although I highly favour the [content, hours, team, working conditions] working here, I have come into some issues as an autistic person in the workplace that have started negatively impacting my work. For instance, I worry I may be misperceived and feel it is important that we are on the same page about the kind of person I am and how autism can cause miscommunications when not addressed.
I’ve been accused in previous positions of being “challenging to authority” or “difficult to work with” or even “lazy” for asking questions that others maybe do not feel necessary to ask. I often find myself in positions with new tasks to perform in my desire to learn new things that require me to ask questions that may seem silly but ultimately allow me to ensure I perform tasks the way that they are preferred for a company standard. I know I often do things in a unique or quirky way that others may not consider which is why I try to be thorough in comprehending assignments and instructions. I do often feel guilty for needing so much clarification in the beginnings of projects, but ultimately I do this so that I can do my best job and hope that you will continue to be patient with me in this regard. I do hope this clears any sort of potential energy mismatching up in regards to intentions in the workplace.
Being autistic comes with many other challenges, though, that I have to account for 24/7 in order to remain functional and able to pursue the life that I want to. Because I have varied sensitivity to stimulation (sight, sound, etc.), it can be a non-issue or even pleasurable to work around others and the office chatter. But if I am having a lot of inner turmoil or even just having a stressful workday, all of a sudden everything gets harder and requires me to be in greater control of everything to stay calm and focus.
This may mean I need to work somewhere else (a conference room, outside, at home) in order to get done the level of work that I need to. Sometimes it may not be that bad and I may just need [personal accommodations that may otherwise seem confusing]. I know accommodations like this should be discussed in advance, so I am bringing it to you now to see how we can make these adjustments work in a way that works for everybody involved and impacted by them. I understand that this can create inconvenience especially as we build up to a new norm, but I want to create a space where we are all feeling comfortable, productive, and able to function well together.
I also want to be clear these issues do not make me less capable of doing my job. These are adjustments I have to make throughout my life in every arena and because I am a person that works, I am working to translate those adjustments here, too, in a way that is respectful to everybody else in the office but especially my immediate team. Accommodations like this allow me to be better at my job and do it in a way that allows me to thrive at what I do.
I believe we all want to be part of a team and workspace that lets us be our best professional selves. I know there’s a lot of stigmatisation around disability specifically regarding ability. I am still the same person I’ve always been and I’m opening this dialogue as an act of good faith and mutual respect regarding my situation and how it may be awkward for us to navigate and there will be misunderstandings but I want the opportunity to always be honest about where I’m at in regards to work and if I am needing extra support without fearing it could be attached with an extra level of social pressure that feeds into the issue. I’m excited to talk to you more about it so we can optimise the time we spend working together.
I’m also including some resources you may be interested in as a workspace manager that may encounter and have to account for other neurodivergent people in the workspace such as: