I think I need to go public. At work at least. I simply cannot allow co-workers to assume I am incompetent and/or stupid, and a waste of company money.
The problem is, the mentality of many is that I’ll be seeking ‘special treatment’. Yeah, I know… I’ve had that said. In the heat of the moment, I cannot think clearly and articulate a response. So I have to allow myself a calm time to address this preconception of me in a way that respectfully educates my co-workers, yet allows me space to be me. The only way I know how is to create awareness.
I have no idea how to approach the ‘special treatment’ issue. I know I am sick of being lectured like a three year old, being yelled at ‘like the boys’ (seriously, yelling at staff, regardless of gender or neurology, for a mistake works, does it??) and being treated with kid gloves. None of these tactics work to address my very real disabilities. Having disabilities and alerting others to them for context is asking for ‘special treatment’.
I make mistakes. B makes mistakes. M, our manager, makes mistakes. General Managers make mistakes. It is a real aspect of being human. But my mistakes are basic ones that others feel should not be made. Only stupid first years make those mistakes. And yelling at me will stop those mistakes.
How will this trade attract a diverse skill set and loyal employees with this old school, Alpha male mentality? I love the raw openness of the culture, and the mateship that comes with it. But I do not like the very narrow expectation of what a mechanic should be. It is killing my desire to be at work. I am surviving, not thriving.
I do not have solutions. I am going to have to trial solutions, to see what works. To begin with, I have to out on a ledge to voice who it is I am and what I am about. It isn’t all about me. I know that we have at least 4 other autistic workers in our department. They have no inkling they are, but the signs are writ large. They are the loyal workers who trudge on quietly. The unseen, the troubled ones who don’t fit in. I want them to begin to breathe and enjoy being at work.
The seed is planted. I have to let it grow a little. When the time is right and I am sure I can cope with the possibility of fall out (losing my job), I’ll calmly present some context.
Kudos to those pioneers who forge forward for us to walk in greater safety. I cannot imagine the courage and faith they have.