Two days ago, I finally got to sit in at a group setting at Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. This was an introductory, informational session for people with disabilities looking for work. After filling out paperwork at the end of the session, you are given job counselor you see there on a regular basis as they go about your personal do’s and don’t’s on what job best fits you and what appropriate accommodations you would need to KEEP the job for steady income above all things. Unfortunately, as I should have expected, the commission’s funding was said to be at an all-time low and even if it wasn’t, I would still not get a counselor to meet until the end of the summer. It’s currently early to mid July as I am typing this. Anyway, that is unacceptable. I need a job sooner rather than later. I may have a roof over my head and resources supplied by my parents, but considering all the bullshit I had to go through for years in bad situations at bad jobs, I should be getting better service especially since I am anxious to work. Most of the clients that come in apparently are not eager to work and may or may not be there because of their parents. To me, they are likely (but not 100%) to be much younger than me to think like that. I am officially 30 now and I hate it. So this is what I decided. I am going to (and I have been doing this since yesterday) go to indeed.com and apply for EVERY nearby part-time job (my eventual SSDI would cover the rest of what would be a full-time paycheck) that is NOT retail and is very accommodating and easy-going for someone on the spectrum.
Today I got my first email back from an employer. She wants to have an interview with me tomorrow or the day after. I told her I would be thrilled to meet with her tomorrow. So I am ready to do so. Now here’s the deal. This is what I set out to do when I made this decision to apply on my own again. In every interview I have, I am going to disclose right then and there. How the person reacts will tell me whether it will work out or not, let alone if they hire me. And you best believe I will be doing that tomorrow. I feel good about it and am really not nervous. I doubt I will be right before the interview either.
So if you are reading this and can relate, whether it is because you are autistic or have any disability that isn’t “visible” to the average person, I strongly advice you to do the same thing in a job interview. You shouldn’t have to mask and pretend to be someone you’re not. Don’t be a groveling doormat just for a job you may not like or even feel comfortable in. Get it out in the open from the very beginning, and above all, be yourself. Obviously in the workplace, depending on what job it is, you will have to mask sometimes, but not in an interview. There is no reason to do so and if anyone disagrees, they are behind the times and are the reason why stigma is still around and destroying lives.
In any event, I have faith this summer and the rest of this year in general will turn out well. But it will be because I made it happen, which I am already doing.