Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'm on the job search again. The job I was supposed to take starting in January... our friend keeps not getting back to us. She was supposed to take me out a few times last week and she never called. I need a job. So, it's back to the job hunt.

Most jobs are ones that you would take because it's a job and you need work. Then there are jobs that you actually want. I decided to stretch myself a little bit and apply for TSS (therapeutic support staff for kids) positions. I would still only be able to work part time. I got a call back for an interview the other day. That's a good sign, at least. I'd love to work one-on-one with a child with autism. I might be good at it. After all, my degree prepared me to work with children.

Now here's the dilemma. Do I tell the interviewers that I have autism? On the one hand, I think that having autism will make me a better TSS for children with special needs. It will explain why I understand them better than the average person. Also, I'm tempted to come out and say it because I don't tend to interview very well, and it explains that. On the other hand, do I want to be so forthcoming about my supposed disability? I'm not sure if they would look at me differently or not. They shouldn't, being that this organization is all about people with disabilities; they should get it. But, there's no guaranteeing that they will.

So what would you do?


  1. Hi Lydia, I will give this some thought. But you know what I was thinking? Is if you lived in my neck of the woods, how I wish you could come over now and again and spend time with me and my family. There's the dog whisperer, there's the baby whisperer... well, you'd be the autism whisperer! LOL!

    But in all seriousness. If I had a chance as a parent of an autistic child to spend time with an adult person on the spectrum who had the ability to self-reflect and articulate what is going on inside you and what has helped you, it would be huge. As a metro NYer, I find it sometimes hard to trust the experts and feel they are just as confused and guessing as any of us, plus they have significant financial motives.

    In any case, you have something so valuable to offer families just like me, of which there are plenty. I wish you all the luck in figuring out where your place will be in all of this!


  2. I have learnt so much from you because you can explain how the world looks from an autistic angle. I would have thought you would be perfect for the job but it would look a lot better to be open about it.

    I suppose this is where it is hard having a disability that is not immediately obvious. If you were in a wheelchair there would be no hiding it. However, i would be open for two reasons. Firstly, you will then be able to argue that your perspective could be uniquely helpful to both a child and their parents and carers. Secondly, if you do have days when youreact in a non-typical way then your employers will be ready for it and it won't seem nearly so strange a behaviour as it would have done if you had hidden it.

    Also, I think you might come across as definsive or ashamed of the Autism if you don't "own" it. Not own up but .... just, it is a part of you.

    Maybe others will disagree on that?

  3. I would not disclose that I had autism but on the other hand it could be beneficial in your case to disclose your autism. However, I would caution you not to disclose that you had autism during the job interview because it could pose a red flag to the potential employer that you may not be capable and competent to perform the essential job functions. Once you get hired for the job then I would disclose that you have autism. I would practice your job interviewing skills with someone. It would be a great idea for you and someone you felt comfortable with to do a mock job interview. That would give you the confidence and improve your job interviewing skills.

  4. Well, I for one would welcome you with open arms as a TSS. the aditional insight you have would be invaluable. To disclose or not is a tricky one and maybe it's all in the way you do it. I think if you go more with listing it as an attribute rather than a deficit the interview may go over better. It's all in the frame of mind, if you get what I mean.

    Would you be able to handle being self employed? I think the idea of being a "Autism whisperer" is a good one and it would allow you to work as and when you were able to, using your qualifications and your natural insight. With 1 in 150 children in America being diagnosed as on the spectrum there would certainly seem to be a market for it. If you decided to try it it's something you could build on while you were working for someone else, particularly if you have some one working with you to help with the admin, marketing and organisation.

    And, if you went down the Autism Whisperer route it would give you some great material for your book!!

  5. For us in our lives, disclosing is always the best route. You have to decide what feels right for you. There are some older students with autism at our kids karate school that aren't that great as aides, but I think you would be fantastic, given your level of self-awareness.

    Good luck whatever you decide!!!