Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Revelation Decision

I have talked about my retail job in previous posts, where I have discussed my new position in the clothing department.  Over my nearly five years of working there, I have considered knowledge of my autism to be private.  I only revealed that information to people I took into my confidence, people who I believed would have an understanding of the condition and what it really means.  I haven't always taken into account the my type of autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, is not typical for autism by any means.  I have learned that even if I reveal that I have autism, the question remains: what do I expect someone to do with that information?

My autism is not typical for the spectrum.  PDD-NOS is the category the doctors place people who match symptoms of autism that do not fit into any other category.  I have discussed this before in previous posts.  By choosing to reveal my autism through this blog to a number of people I have never seen face-to-face was a large step for me.  However, while at work the other day, I took an equally large step.  I told my boss at work that I had autism.

As I said, I have taken a number of people into my confidence at my retail job to inform them of my condition.  I no longer start these significant conversations by saying "I have autism."  I introduce the subject by saying to the person in question: "have you ever heard of autism?"  This allows me to figure out exactly how to approach this person and how much explaining I need to do.  I have approached people in the past who have never heard of autism before, which put me into the position of explaining (often poorly) what autism was and then revealing that I had an unusual form.

Over the past five years, I have never told the management at my retail job that I was on the autism spectrum for various reasons.  I was hesitant because I did not want to be treated differently than everyone else.  It was an ongoing argument I had with myself for the past few months. I felt that I needed to give an explanation, so that the fact that I avoided everyone's eye contact did not get interpreted wrong by my boss. 

So when I did decide to finally tell my boss about my autism, I was not sure if he would understand.  He told me he never would have noticed.  It turned out that he did understand.  During the rest of that day, I saw that he kept on changing how he gave me directions to figure out what worked best.  I could not ask for any more than that.

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