i autistic » Adult Life » To disclose autism or not to employers

The unspoken assumption is that autistic people who do not need support will not identify as autistic to avoid discrimination during job interviews; they might disclose after they have been hired for a while if they find that they still need support.

The ones who appear in the mass media usually need support and, therefore, are forced to disclose to obtain such support. Getting a media interview is a massive risk for those without employability issues, as there is little upside but lots of downsides should the journalist portray the interviewee misleadingly and negatively, as has happened before.


Those who need support often require far more than job coaching (e.g., moving away from an abusive family, biomedical/nutritional support, mental resilience/wellness support). The employers are unwilling to invest in providing this additional support as it will not be profitable for them to do so. In addition, jobs that many autistic people could traditionally build their niche in (such as quality control inspectors on factory production lines) are now being automated by artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

Many employers are only symbolically inclusive (e.g. an MNC hiring only one disabled person out of their thousands of staff and only requiring that worker to perform half the work with the same salary). Many other employers are mainly also engaging autistic people in low-paying jobs, either one step away from being automated or having no career advancement options. Only relatively few employers can be counted upon to employ autistic people.


Discrimination usually prevents the applicant from getting a job (e.g., unable to apply to be an early childhood educator) or staying in the job. The lower pay of autistic workers are primarily due to the following:

1) need for lots of micromanaging (e.g., step-by-step work process guidance, conflict resolution, emotional management, following up)

2) poor performance due to ADHD, chronic fatigue, mental health, emotional management or other compounding issues

3) difficulty working with other members of the team, requiring even more micromanagement to smooth out issues

4) lack of market-relevant skills or abilities as the autistic worker chose to prioritise personal interests instead of job skills


Paying some autistic workers SGD$600/month (USD$455) may sound exploitative, but it might be reasonable if we consider this as apprenticeship training. After all, choosing to hire an autistic worker who needs to be constantly guided by another person instead of using automated solutions and foreign workers may make no economic sense.

If a person has a degree but cannot perform the work required of a degree holder, they are overqualified. Their limiting factor is not their educational qualifications but their work competency. They must address the abovementioned issues to raise their salary to market rates.


In addition, being able to support autistic workers is one thing; being able to find high-paying employment for them is another. To expect a job agency to do both may be challenging. Autistic applicants should not expect the job agency to find an ideal job; the agency will assign any job willing to take on the risk and expense of training autistic workers. Autistic people capable of working in mainstream jobs will not use these job agencies.