Disclosure at work

Many autisic people struggle to disclose to managers and colleagues and it is especially difficult if it is a new diagnosis as they will be coming to terms with this themselves.

There are many advantages to people disclosing, such as increased understanding and awareness from colleagues, access to support networks and reasonable adjustments, however, many feel that disclosing their disability will put them at a disadvantage. They may feel discriminated against or that they will not be employed based on the fact that they have difficulties in certain areas. Also, many people believe that if they disclosed during the application process they would be less likely to get an interview.

It is an employee’s choice whether or not they do disclose to colleagues and to disclose this without their permission is breaching their privacy. If an autistic employee is concerned about disclosing there are things you can do as a manager:

Provide opportunities: Talk with your employee about the pros and cons of disclosure, being honest and understanding of their concerns. Do not be forceful and accept that they may not want to disclose.

Choose the right time: Choose a time when your employee will be able to listen and is calm. Always discuss confidential matters in a private room where you will not be overheard. Be mindful of the environment and sensory issues your employee may have.

Be an advocate: Many autistic people will struggle to disclose to others and sometimes may need support doing things. Offer to support whilst still leaving choices and control to your employee. Consider disclosing in written form over a big group meeting and ask if your employee wants to be there when it is disclosed.

Remain positive: Help your colleagues understand what they can do to support, rather than what they can’t do.

Provide information: Make sure you have resources to give to colleagues as well as links to our website. Provide opportunities to learn more via training and information days.

With World Autism Awareness Week fast approaching, we’d love to hear how you have helped spread the word in the past to help inspire other companies to do the same. Please share what you will be doing during WAAW and send your pledges and get involved on social media using #autismpledge