Monday, April 18, 2016

Autistic Employment Concerns Part The Nth

Yesterday, I was volunteering at a book fair and discussing my lack of employment and how frustrating it was to me that finding a job was so difficult. As if acting on cue, my Google alert for 'autism' came up in my inbox and linked me to this article, which didn't help me feel any better:
Although awareness of autism is growing, people diagnosed with the disorder are still having difficulties finding work, the Economist reported. 
About 80 percent of those diagnosed with autism do not work, the United Nations estimates. A survey by Britain’s National Autistic Society found that only 12 percent of high-functioning autistic adults work full time, and only 2 percent with more challenging forms of autism are employed.
Great. Just great. In the current world, I have approximately a 12% chance of becoming employed full-time, if these statistics are anything to go by. I live in the United States, where autism is well-known (but not necessarily well understood because Autism Speaks is a propaganda machine), but I'm not necessarily sure my employment chances are better here, even though as a woman I'm not often recognized as autistic and I've worked as a tour guide and learned to disguise my traits well enough, a technique we call "passing." I have a Master's degree and have enough experience to reach the interview stage occasionally, but despite my interviews going well I'm never the candidate chosen as of late and it makes me feel like there must be something wrong with me that they're noticing and not liking. Considering how I've felt in the past about getting noticed, this is an idea I've internalized, and in a way, I wonder if I project this aura of "I don't think I deserve this job" or something or other to potential employers.

Except I absolutely do believe I deserve a job in my field because I've worked incredibly hard and become incredibly skilled, and I pick up new skills really easily, to boot. I'm perfectly capable of being an absolutely phenomenal archivist.

I'm actually starting to hope that my potential employers find this blog and see what I've been writing here about my intense desire and determination to obtain employment. I hope they see my dedication here and realize that I'm just as capable as anyone else applying for the job and that my disability is actually an advantage in the archival world because my intense focus on work means I can blow through archival backlogs like nobody else. I want them to know how much I care and how important archiving is to me, and I want them to see just how good I can be if they take a chance on me.

I am an archivist. I happen to be an autistic archivist. It shouldn't make a difference in whether or not I get paid to do what I love and what I'm trained to do, simple as that.

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