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My Open Letter to Employers

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

By Adam Abrams, CLE Student

As of 2012, “Autism Speaks has found that 9 out of 10” individuals with autism “are either are unemployed or underemployed, regardless of their IQ or education level (Autism Speaks, 2014). There are a lot of different reasons for this very concerning phenomenon. As an individual with autism searching for work, I feel that one reason could be due to what I call “soft discrimination.” I worry that when I disclose my diagnosis to a potential employer, I become a liability or a less attractive candidate. I also feel that, as a person with autism, I take pains to understand where my employer is coming from relative to me. Below I have written an “open letter” to employers to share my perspective and perhaps aid in better understanding each other.

Dear Prospective Employer

letter to employerMy name is Adam Abrams. I am writing this letter to try and clear the air. I have autism, which is something people think that they know a great deal about. Let me ask you to forget everything you have learned about that word for a moment.

Autism is extremely diverse, and as a result there is little common experience amongst the people who have it. This is difficult for some to understand. Whereas with the flu, a broken leg, or even a surgical operation, there is a shared experience amongst people who have had these, such is not the case with autism. I cannot fully understand what somebody who is lower-functioning and unable to speak is experiencing day to day. But I can make the effort to put myself in their shoes and feel compassionate while maintaining respect.

So I’ve put in my application and sent it to your company. I am asking you to step in my shoes for a moment so that we can work most efficiently together. Know that while I want to provide for your company, I will drift a bit after too long without a brief break. I will be more efficient to your bottom line when I’m not jittery and overrun. Sometimes I may need you to go over things another time in more detail. I really want to do things correctly and part of that means knowing exactly what to do. I can do ‘’A, B, C, D, E, F’’ but not necessarily that fast and not always in that order.

I don’t take any of this lightly; I know you are putting a strain on yourself to conform to my needs. The job search process has taken nearly five years, and it is difficult to find and maintain a job when you have the issues that I do, and when employers don’t understand. I want to be employed, I want to be productive, and I want to make you money. I know it would be easy to throw my application in the trash, but I challenge you to shift your paradigm about working with, and accommodating for people with disabilities. I will accommodate you to the best of my ability, as you will hopefully do for me. Just give me that chance.

Adam Abrams

Newsletter Articles – October 2014

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You may remember in the July Newsletter, Celebrating Great Outcomes, we released our 2013-2014 student academic accomplishments. We have been overwhelmed by the response from our readers celebrating these remarkable successes with us. Thank you for taking the time to pass along your kudos!

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If you choose to disclose your disability in the workplace, there are no requirements about how much you share or whom you share this information with. Don’t be overwhelmed by all staff knowing your personal information, think of this as a decision that can be made on a “need to know” basis. One of the largest benefits of disclosure is giving you, the employee, a chance to have an honest discussion surrounding what will make you the most successful on the job. An individual in the Human Resources department can frequently be of best assistance in helping you to communicate with your direct supervisor.

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