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Autism Interview Strategy

Autism Interview Strategy
By Ryan Comins

Labor Day was initially driven by unions striving for workforce equality in the late 19th century.  At this time in history, floods of people were arriving in the United States from Europe and Asia, all searching for work or job opportunities that could not be found in their country of origin.  Work conditions were rough and benefits were nonexistent at this time in American history.  The need for labor unions to ensure workforce equality was very great.

Fast forward, for a moment, to examine conditions for high functioning individuals who are on the autism spectrum in the early 21st century.  People on the spectrum face a dilemma during the job interview process, an intimidating experience for anyone.  Should individuals on the spectrum place themselves at a potential disadvantage by revealing that they are on the spectrum during the interview process?  There is no easy answer to that question, as everyone on the spectrum is different.  Employers are not allowed to probe for that sort of information because of the ADA act.  The nature of each person’s particular disability is classified unless that individual chooses to reveal that information.  The best thing to do is to try to turn a disability condition, such as autism, into something positive.  I will take a moment to share a strategy I have used for this kind of situation:

During an interview I had in July, I listed all the advocacy work that I have done to raise autism awareness on my resume, without stating that I was on the spectrum myself.  When the question came up (why are you so interested in autism?)  I had an answer ready.  I proceeded to say that I am on the spectrum myself. I touched on the barriers I overcame when I was younger, and finished by saying that I not only overcame my own barriers when I was younger, but I am now using my story as an inspiration for others.

Guess what? I got the job!

Ryan Comins (6 Posts)

Ryan Comins has high functioning autism. He will graduate from college in December 2012. He also writes an autism awareness blog for the Oakland Press and hosts a weekly online radio program for Positively Autistic: a charity based out of the United Kingdom.


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