Square Peg
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Square Peg

Autistics/ADHD are disabled, start treating us like it.

If you are a manager and you hire a person with down syndrome, how would you treat them? In my experience, they get a figurative hand-holding. An empathetic understanding, they are differently abled and require more careful instruction as they learn how to do the job. They are not watched carefully to see if they meet some neurotypical standard, judgmentally, looking for any slip up in meeting this unreasonable condition, then firing them over it. Instead they are reasonably accommodated, offered patience, and are not expected to ever function on the same level as a neurotypical cause, well, obviously, they are not neurotypical…What’s more is, the management/owner does it without complaint. They knew the person would need this accommodation before choosing to hire them, and got fully on board with the idea, anyways.

There is an autism type that is also treated this way. Where the autism is more visible and obvious, more in-your-face, as they struggle with very basic tasks.

But the majority of autistics, and ADHD’ers, are not visibly disabled. It’s not in-your face. So we are treated as a nuisance. Why can’t you figure this out, you are wasting our time, time is money, I don’t have the patience to teach you on this level, we have to let you go for a made up reason so you can’t sue us for discrimination because you are too slow at figuring simple things out and I just don’t want to put effort into teaching a person who can’t ‘get with it’.

That is the typical reaction to us. We are seen as incompetent, not disabled.

A good example is an autistic woman I know of who got fired from 35 jobs, before finally finding one with decent management who better understood her needs. She is adored at her current job, and supported, and in no danger of being fired a 36th time.

What we need employers and management to ‘figure out,’ and ‘get with,’ is that we are just like people with down syndrome. We both are neurodivergent. Just like people with DS, our neurological difference disables our ability to function on the same level as neurotypicals in a neurotypical-designed society. We have all the same struggles with comprehension, and need all the same accommodations and extra attention and effort from management, to learn the job…but it is not visible, so employers act like it’s not just as real and necessary as when they provide it for someone whose disability is obvious.

We are disabled. We do need you to act like you fully understand that. Yes we can speak normal, and that can throw you off, but that doesn’t somehow magically lessen our disability in executive functions. It is a lack of education on your part, to understand that our looking and sounding like you means absolutely nothing in regards to if we are in fact, disabled in executive functions, and will need the same level of hand-holding you willingly, and patiently, provide to other neurodivergents, like people with down syndrome. Let go of your ignorance and prejudice. Embrace understanding, evolving, and learning a new way to look at us. If you choose to hire a neurodivergent person with any form of neurological difference, regardless of how they look or sound, understand you need to be prepared to go slow and be really involved, in their job training.

Whether it’s down syndrome, autism, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, or any other recognized neurological disability legally requiring appropriate accommodations in the workplace for, no matter what you think you know or understand. I assure you, you do not understand. If you are not a neurologist, you are completely unqualified to make any decisions about our capabilities. Stop being so arrogant you think you are smarter than a doctor, and just offer the damn accommodations. More often than not, the training manager is just some lackey who doesn’t even fully know what autism actually is. Recognize that fact.

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Rebekka Lee

I am just a Gypsy girl who gathered a few good people, and founded Autism Fits, in honor of my dad, and Gili Project, to help my people (Rroma Gypsies).