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Should You Disclose Your Diagnosis of Aspergers?

Question

I’m an adult male diagnosed with Aspergers. Should I tell people that I have this diagnosis, or is it better that they don’t know?

Answer

This is mostly a matter of personal choice. Sometimes it’s good that others know – other times it may work against you.

In relationships, disclosure of an Aspergers (or high-functioning autism) diagnosis has been known to save relationships that are in trouble, but it has also been known to lead to break-ups or divorce if the non-Aspergers spouse/partner is unwilling to deal with the changes/issues inherent with this disorder. Experiences have been mixed.

You may want to consider disclosing your diagnosis to your employer (or potential employer) if you know that you will need some accommodations to do your best at work (e.g., incandescent rather than fluorescent lighting, solitary work rather than working in groups, flat-screen computer, etc.). If you want to disclose your diagnosis for this purpose, the best person to start with is your immediate supervisor. Sometimes simply stating, “I do my best when…” [a particular accommodation is provided] is enough. Some companies require the employee to disclose his/her disability in order to receive accommodations that are not typically made for others.

Be aware that some employees with Aspergers have found that disclosing their diagnosis (with the expectation that supervisors and coworkers would “understand” and provide for their unique needs) was not helpful at all – and even backfired. Depending on the attitudes of the employer, supervisors, coworkers, etc., it may be best for you to simply decide what you need, and then politely ask for it with reasonable explanations that do not include your diagnosis. Don’t expect your boss to know what you need based on a diagnosis that he/she probably does not understand.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… disclose is an ugly word. it sounds like you`re hiding something. tell sounds better. i think there`s no point in telling work unless you need to protect yourself legally because you need specific accommodations. telling coworkers is a different matter. no one`s going to understand and accept autism if we don`t give them the opportunity, and more importantly expect them to. this means telling people. not like it`s a big deal... it`s just like being left handed or having some other normal variation of humanity. it`s not even something that needs to be directly referenced unless there`s a reason. just like any other normal variation of humanity. sometimes the traits or symptoms are relevant to a situation. good pattern recognition, or extra good hearing or smell, or hypersensitivity to sound.... i usually talk about those first as they become relevant and eventually tie it together as autism at some other time. of course there`s no reason to do that if they`re clearly hostile to differences. unless perhaps it`s a situation where you need to stick up for or protect a fellow human being with some normal variation of humanity. the point is, it`s not worth making a big deal over because it`s not a big deal. but it`s also not something that needs to be hidden unless it`s a clearly hostile situation. but then why would anyone work somewhere they know is hostile to them ?
•    Anonymous said… Hence the reason for more research into what this diagnosis means both biologically and culturally/socially. Biosocial if you will. Will differences prevent job applicants from understanding or connecting in behavioural interviews? Will the new focus on team space and personal life story sharing work environments make it harder for the neurodiverse to show that they are committed to producing and contributing for the team?
•    Anonymous said… I'm completely open about it outside of work, but work don't know and that's how I'd like to keep it. I have to have my colleagues in my life, I choose who's in my life otherwise x
•    Anonymous said… I've found a deffinate change for the worse in how friends have treated me since being fully open about my diagnosis, Nothings changed but if that's how they want to be,that's upto them, Life's a struggle as it is without worrying about others.

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