Disclosure – part 2

In the first part of this blog, I explored whether you should disclose being autistic to your employer. What there is to gain – or perhaps not. I personally use the question ‘what will I get from disclosing that I’m autistic?’ as a means to gain clarity on what I want from disclosure. I do this because being autistic is personal to me, and not something I will share with just anyone, so I want to be sure of the gain from the exchange.

I have disclosed being autistic on a couple of occasions in workplaces and would like to use this blog to share my top tips on how to go about this.

What triggers you?

I’d always advise people to have a good understanding of how they may struggle in the workplace; what triggers may affect them, and to then think of potential solutions to these issues. A trigger can be anything from experiencing sensory issues (the lights, sounds, smells) to the environment more generally (positioning of your desk, whether you have a static desk or not) to the nature of how you are communicated with or asked to perform your role. This all gives clues as to what will affect you going forwards and help to build up an inventory of what your needs are. This is very powerful, as it will give you confidence, as you will no doubt have a better understanding of yourself; how your autism affects you and what your needs are.

Please note that this is a work in progress, and you’ll continue to learn this throughout your life as you continue to experience different work situations and environments.

It’s also important to note that triggers can vary and change over time, and may occur in one environment yet not another

However, the more you can become a ‘self-detective’ and tune into yourself, the more receptive you’ll become to identifying triggers.

And if you haven’t worked before – this is also OK. Because again, it’s about learning more about yourself and what affects you, and how. This introspection will help you in various aspects of your life more generally. I have found mindfulness to be an incredible tool and skill in helping me identify what triggers me.

Can you resolve it yourself?

Once you have your inventory and have identified aspects that you find triggering in the workplace, it’s worth taking a step back to see if you can find a solution yourself. So for instance, I once worked for an organisation that had nowhere to rest or recuperate in a quiet and private space. It was a work environment where meeting rooms had glass walls that ran floor to ceiling, and even the toilets felt like social networking hotspots. Instead, I found taking time out to sit in my car for twenty minutes to practise deep breathing and to do a mindfulness exercise really helpful. In this instance, I informed my manager that I would be doing t