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The Perfect Workplace for an Autistic Person...

I often see people within the autistic community reach out and ask for suggestions on where other autistic people suggest would be the best workplace.

I find this a hard question to answer however, after some soul searching myself (yes I do have one) I now do have the answer.

The answer is a workplace where you wouldn't need to ask for reasonable adjustments in order to do your job. Or a forward thinking workplace that trusts they have employed you to do a good job and allows you to manage yourself through set boundaries and communication.

Although I do have reasonable adjustments in place for my current job it does not mean to say it is not perfect for me...

I have looked at my personality, and past jobs to see where my strengths and weaknesses are and I have had to also admit something to myself.

Although I am above average intelligence I do struggle with things that come easily to others. I have a lot of energy and therefore like to move around or do something fast paced. I do not like to be quiet in a job. I like to be focussed on the task in hand as this blocks out noises. I like flexibility in how and where I work. The way I see it is as long as I am getting the job done, and doing it well surely the needs of the business are being met?

Sometimes I genuinely think employers forget they employ adults who manage their household, get themselves dressed and drive themselves to work in a car they paid for. In jobs past I have found certain rules a bit petty. OK A LOT petty!

I worked in a place once where uniforms were mandatory. It was very similar to school. You had to wear black socks even though you were behind a counter all day and you could not wear more than one earring in your ears and your hair colour had to be natural. You were in no way allowed to express yourself. Even where you parked in the car park was dictated to the edge of the car park where there was no CCTV and meant you often had to walk across the car park alone as a female at night. You were literally a number and would be punished for going over your allotted hours in way of a disciplinary. They were short staffed and customers were suffering but keeping the wage bill down was more important to them!

I also did a cleaning job which I actually liked. It was quiet everyone in the office had left and I found it quite satisfying but when we were taken over by a different cleaning contractor the woman was not flexible with the hours we worked. She employed someone herself allowing her to come in at 6am but the same leniency was not shown with the likes of me. I left that job handing the woman the mop and telling her to clean the building herself. I have never left a job like that before and it felt good. I could no longer continue it because I had 2 other jobs at the time and her inflexibility made it impossible to work there.

Then there was the waitressing job. This was the most fun job. Everyone was in it together and if you were on the late shift you finished it with a pint and on the early shift you got free tea, coffee and toast with a free breakfast and also before the evening shift you got a free dinner before starting. I had two managers, 1 was cool and laid back automatically gaining my respect with her easy going approach. She was not intimidating and was easy to talk to. She used to help you out with shifts and would let me leave early if I did her a favour coming in mid week which I tried to avoid because you could be working until 3am and I had an office job Monday-Friday. She however, would let me go at 10pm if she needed to extra cover so I would go straight from work. The other manager was well the opposite. Very stressy, you never knew how to take her or what mood she would be in. I found her quite intimidating and didn't much enjoy my shifts with her.

Office work is complicated. I would say if you wanted to progress in office work you could only do it by moving from one company to another in a higher position in the same field. The reason for this is because office politics are very difficult to navigate. Therefore, it is highly unlikely you will be promoted in a job you work in unless you know how to play this game every neurotypical seems to be good at if you have half a brain. The one where seemingly you do not need to excel at your job but excel with getting on with people...

I personally think most autistic people do well self employed in a field of their hobby, or if they get lucky and someone takes a chance on them either from the community or from an employment perspective.

I think a lot of it is trial and error as I have found but being diagnosed late has been a hindrance to my career. I am not sure I would have ever picked to work in an office had I been diagnosed earlier. I have wanted to be self employed since my late 20's but just never found my niche until now that is.

My motto is I cut my cloth to fit my table. If my wage shrinks I cut the cloth more so it fits. As long as I can pay the basics I know I will be fine come rain or shine. I truly believe more autistic people would be employed if there wasn't such a weight placed on how well people fit in.



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