Hi just want to seek advice on whether to admit autism to my future employers and how badly would it affect my job aspects and if I could make up for it thru other means. I have high functioning autism and the way I process information is different from people, I struggle in expressing myself but I have been taking steps in improving.
Backstory - I came from a background where I was a shut-in once and had to pick myself up. I manage to stand up again once I found programming thru a friend and it changed my life by giving me a sense of purpose and so for a year + I have been picking up programming subjects in school and my own time. I managed to progress and constantly been improving myself. I completed school in April and enrolled myself in a 12-week Bootcamp because I was very isolated when I was learning to program and wanted to build real projects and since the Bootcamp was not a coding school but a software consultant company I found it would be beneficial for me for networking as well as picking up social skills.
The Bootcamp went well so far for 8 weeks, picked up relevant skills and the instructor experience was the most beneficial since they share industry experience I was also progressing well and learning new things. I had no issues with the task and work since it was mostly individual work.
But despite my progress, I was trying very hard to hide that I am autistic and didn’t want people to know so I forced myself to adapt. This went on until our group project for a real client where I struggled the most.
We are a team of 5 and our team comprise of 2 pairs and 1 qa working on user stories which rotates regularly so that everyone knows what each other are doing. (we were following agile). For 1 week i was struggling in keeping up with the pace of what is going on and it wasnt the code that i was struggling but soft skills. Like discussing what could bring value to the client and etc as well as making careless mistakes (making big git commit instead of small code commits naming files outside what we discussed)
I came to the point i had to bring up to my team that i am autistic doing my standup. Thankfully my team were understanding and supportive of me including my instructor and were very nice throughout the week.
i was happy about the outcome and it was my first step in letting people know about it, but it had me thinking on how would i bring this up for interviews, i feel i should be honest to my interviewer and explain how i make up for it. But i fear getting discriminated compared to my peers and get lower pay from expectation and i do not want to be in a workplace where i have to put on a mask to hide to get the job done as i feel that if im comfortable letting people know about it as i will be able to work alot better.
I used to think that i can hide my autism and make up for it by my programming skills and ignored the importance of soft skills and working in a team till that week which makes me realize how important they were.
This is kind of long but i hope to seek some advice on how i could convey the message about my autism in interviews.
That’s a tough thing. On one hand, if you say nothing, they may think that you’re off or rude. If you tell them they may think you are looking for sympathy (probably not, but that is the fear.)
So you are sure that you can’t “hide” it (I hate that word for this) for the length of an interview. I would do some practice interviews and see if they can tell. Really, this is important advice for everyone - interviewing is a crucial skill that can be learned and honed.
I think if you get to the point of a phone or in-person interview, I might suggest starting out with, “Before we begin, I would just like to say that I’ve been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I wanted to tell you this because sometimes I don’t realize that what I am saying or my tone can be heard as ‘off’ or even rude, and I don’t want it to come off that way.” Even try to have a sense of humor about it. That makes it sound like your problem, that you are dealing with, that may put them at a little more ease. Make it sound like it’s not that big of a deal to you and you just don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. In the real world, of course, it’s the responsibility of all of us to learn to communicate, but in an interview, the more at ease you can make them feel, the better it is for you. That may not be entirely fair, but it is true. Once you get into the job and start to form personal relationships, it will get easier.
…making big git commit instead of small code commits…
Yeah, join the club. I comment on that with fellow devs all the time and even have to remind myself sometimes.
actually i dont have a problem with the tone of my voice but rather in expressing myself when explaining certain things as well as needing to repeat certain things to be able to understand something.
Every person who is on the spectrum has different needs. The interview itself i dont think i would have a problem explaining and talking as well as doing the tech interview i been getting better at it. But rather its telling the interviewer my needs doing the job itself which is my worry that gets me discriminated
I’m certainly no expert, but my understanding of the ADA is that you are under no obligation to bring up disabilities unless they would prevent you from doing the job without “reasonable accommodation”. I think most people would consider “needing to repeat certain things to be able to understand something” is a reasonable accommodation. Heck, I work with devs with whom I regularly have to repeat things - and they don’t have an excuse.
Everybody, disabilities or not, has different working styles and little quirks. Every work place flexes and bends to accommodate different people. You’re just perhaps a little quirkier. It sounds like you won’t have too much trouble. As far as “discrimination”, I’d read up on the ADA - there are some pretty strong protections in place. I think most workplaces are sensitive to that.
Worry more about doing a good job and being a fun guy to work with. With those two things, people have overlooked much worse quirks than what you’re describing.
I know companies can vary but I work with someone who is either autistic, has a speech impediment, or both. He works magic on the computers and any lead worth his or her salt will never undervalue someone who can produce results.
That being said, I understand the issue with negotiation. I wrote a long post just now on two options: risk adverse or not. Ie safer albeit much lower salary versus exponentially higher salary but much more difficult. I don’t recommend you to limit yourself if you discover you work great on open source teams.
Be yourself and let your results define the path you ultimately take