Telling people I'm autistic when doing voluntary work

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KitLily
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23 Sep 2022, 7:23 am

I want to start volunteering at places that really matter to me, so I don't want to 'mess it up'. Should I tell them I've got mild autism? Or not tell them and hope I can muddle along?

I fear that if I tell them, they won't let me volunteer with them. But if I don't tell them I might 'act weirdly' when I get stressed, and be told to leave.

If I did tell them, I would explain that I have mild autism which means I don't always get social situations, hints, subtleties etc. I need clear instructions and clarity, not vague hints.

So again this is a voluntary role so it won't affect my finances, I just really want to help out at places.


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23 Sep 2022, 7:35 am

It's up to you. Some people are like "no, don't tell them!" but I don't think it really makes a lot of difference whether you do or not, especially in a volunteering job. A lot of ND people do volunteering so they might be used to ND people.

The reason I don't tell people about my ASD is because of pride and that I feel embarrassed and ashamed about it. But I wouldn't discourage others from disclosing their ASD to people.


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KitLily
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23 Sep 2022, 7:43 am

I suppose it doesn't matter if I tell them or not, because I'm not earning at the place and so they won't see me as costing them money or whatever. I suppose if I do tell them and they immediately start treating me like an idiot and laughing at me, it is a sign that I shouldn't volunteer there isn't it...

I'll think about it some more :flower:


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Double Retired
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23 Sep 2022, 8:42 am

They almost certainly have preconceptions about Autistics. I know I did before I discovered I might be one.

If you are high-functioning enough then you might be able to adjust their preconceptions by eventually casually mentioning that you are Autistic.


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23 Sep 2022, 10:07 am

It might help with being understood, as in, they might forgive "weird" behavior more if you tell them, but there's also a chance you won't be allowed to join them if you tell them. That's what happened to me when I tried to do voluntary work and they found out about me being on the spectrum and about my physical disability. Of course, I can't say for sure if me being on the spectrum alone without the physical disability would've been a problem or not, or if the physical problem wasn't an actual problem but me being on the spectrum was, but the point is, sometimes people get shut out of doing voluntary work for these kind of reasons.

In a way, I do understand their decision; I would've been working with kids, so if something had gone wrong, there could've been a big mess with a lot of consequences... but honestly, I also feel like I was discriminated against a little. The official documents they got their hands on about my condition were almost a decade old, so while I still had the same conditions, lots of the problems they caused weren't up to date. But it turns out that what are currently facts don't really mean a lot if old facts are black on white and written by professionals.
The thing that annoyed me most about this was that they let me complete the training for this voluntary job and didn't even take the time during it to pull me aside and give me a heads up about there possibly being a problem with my conditions. Instead, they just called me a few weeks after it finished and told me that due to my conditions, I don't qualify. They'd had my papers for weeks, they'd met me several times after getting them, so not bothering to tell me face to face was an a** move in my opinion.
Of course, part of the fault lies with me in the sense that when I contacted them for the first time, I should've asked directly if me being disabled would be a problem. But since I didn't want to face any prejudices, I was more indirect and asked if there were any specific things that could prevent someone from getting to do this, and they listed stuff like criminal record and such, so I assumed a disability wouldn't be an automatic no no since it wasn't brought up on that listing... who knows, maybe it's not automatic, or maybe the person speaking never imagined that someone disabled would want to volunteer.

Anyway, sorry for hijacking the thread for a moment and making this about me. Some memories resurfaced and I felt like I needed to get this off my chest...



kraftiekortie
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23 Sep 2022, 10:14 am

I wouldn't tell them. I don't see any purpose in it. Unless the organization you're volunteering for has something to do with people with disabilities.



CarlM
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23 Sep 2022, 7:47 pm

I think you should say "I don't always get social situations, hints, subtleties etc. I need clear instructions and clarity, not vague hints". If they understand this means you are ASD then fine, if they don't then it probably was a good idea to not tell them. Not that I've tried this idea, but I have been volunteering and will try to do it when I get a chance.


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DanielW
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23 Sep 2022, 8:38 pm

I'd tell them IF it becomes necessary. I tend to keep it on a "need to know" basis because just telling someone "I'm autistic" often causes more problems than it solves.



cyberdad
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23 Sep 2022, 8:44 pm

This is really up to you Klilly

It depends how comfortable you are with sharing your diagnosis if you feel the need to explain any unexpected quirks or behaviour you think they will find awkward.

If, on the other hand, you manage social expectations well then I am not sure there is any advantage in disclosing?



KitLily
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24 Sep 2022, 3:46 am

Double Retired wrote:
They almost certainly have preconceptions about Autistics. I know I did before I discovered I might be one.

If you are high-functioning enough then you might be able to adjust their preconceptions by eventually casually mentioning that you are Autistic.


That's a good idea!


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KitLily
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24 Sep 2022, 3:48 am

Fireblossom wrote:
It might help with being understood, as in, they might forgive "weird" behavior more if you tell them, but there's also a chance you won't be allowed to join them if you tell them.
Anyway, sorry for hijacking the thread for a moment and making this about me. Some memories resurfaced and I felt like I needed to get this off my chest...


That is a good point about not being allowed to join...

I won't be working with kids so that's not applicable, but anyway I was a learning support assistant with kids aged 11-16 for many years so that shouldn't be a problem. But I didn't know I was autistic then so neither did the schools/colleges! I think I can mask well enough.

No it's fine getting things off your chest if you need to :)


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KitLily
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24 Sep 2022, 3:49 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
I wouldn't tell them. I don't see any purpose in it. Unless the organization you're volunteering for has something to do with people with disabilities.


It doesn't so maybe I won't.


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KitLily
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24 Sep 2022, 3:50 am

CarlM wrote:
I think you should say "I don't always get social situations, hints, subtleties etc. I need clear instructions and clarity, not vague hints". If they understand this means you are ASD then fine, if they don't then it probably was a good idea to not tell them. Not that I've tried this idea, but I have been volunteering and will try to do it when I get a chance.


That's a good idea as well. It might be better if they think I'm just a bit daft, not disabled. It might scare them if they think they have to 'deal with a disabled person' :roll:


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KitLily
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24 Sep 2022, 3:51 am

DanielW wrote:
I'd tell them IF it becomes necessary. I tend to keep it on a "need to know" basis because just telling someone "I'm autistic" often causes more problems than it solves.


That is very sensible advice.


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KitLily
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24 Sep 2022, 3:52 am

cyberdad wrote:
This is really up to you Klilly

It depends how comfortable you are with sharing your diagnosis if you feel the need to explain any unexpected quirks or behaviour you think they will find awkward.

If, on the other hand, you manage social expectations well then I am not sure there is any advantage in disclosing?


Yes but I wanted advice! Everything is up to me but I like interacting with people on Wrong Planet.

I don't manage social situations at all well, I'm always offending people by accident and never knowing what I did wrong.


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cyberdad
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24 Sep 2022, 4:17 am

KitLily wrote:
cyberdad wrote:
This is really up to you Klilly

It depends how comfortable you are with sharing your diagnosis if you feel the need to explain any unexpected quirks or behaviour you think they will find awkward.

If, on the other hand, you manage social expectations well then I am not sure there is any advantage in disclosing?


Yes but I wanted advice! Everything is up to me but I like interacting with people on Wrong Planet.

I don't manage social situations at all well, I'm always offending people by accident and never knowing what I did wrong.


Do you catalogue your transgressions? can you prepare yourself to avoid those situations arising a second time?