« ...after years of struggling, I found a way to fit my weirdness into professional settings and now I have the opportunity and privilege to work towards a future where I am the norm, not the exception.»
In 2009 when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I was shocked to discover that my weirdness had a name, and that there were other human beings in the world who experienced the same struggles as I.
Current estimates of autism in the U.S. is around one in fifty – many of us are undiagnosed, and we often grow up with the sense that we were born on the wrong planet – we can have difficulties socializing, fitting in, and understanding how most in society think and use language.
Over 80% of adults on the autism spectrum are unemployed or underemployed, and many of these individuals – with the right supports and accommodations – could be successful/brilliant in the workplace, but since there’s little understanding of this “invisible disability,” far too much talent ends up squatting in their parent’s basements or languishing in a part-time, minimum-wage job, even with graduate degrees.
I am one of the lucky ones – over the years, some of my coworkers took the trouble to get to know me, sympathize with my struggles, and coach me on how to function effectively in the workplace. With their guidance, after years of struggling I found a way to fit my weirdness into professional settings and now I have the opportunity and privilege to work towards a future where I am the norm, not the exception. We have a long way to go but together we can make the world a better, more inclusive place.