Accommodation Or Abuse: The False Choice Managers Have With #Neurospicy Employees

Preface: You may notice that I do not name the prior employer or manager in this post. That is intentional, and for legal reasons. If you know (or guess) whom I’m speaking about, that’s your conclusion, not mine. And if you think I’m talking about you… well, first, go read my Artistic License, and then… well, if the shoe fits, lace that right on up.

This video on TikTok pretty much sums up my experiences at a prior employer.


with @Tyler Sparrow #adultautism
just wearing a mask pretending this job isnt k!IIing me slowly take more energy than you lay me for!!

♬ original sound – Tyler Sparrow

At that prior employer, there was literally no part of every day activities that did not involve something I had improved, reworked, or simply created from the ground up. Some of that work has gone on to be used in facilities on several continents.

From the step-by-step instructions on doing complex procedures, to the Excel spreadsheet used to schedule customers, to the literal computer programs used to complete procedures, I "plugged a lot of holes in the bottom of the ship."

I was also seen as insubordinate for a number of reasons. I suggested improvements. I pointed out that perhaps the Windows XP systems we were using in 2020 (yes, you read that correctly) should be patched for software vulnerabilities. I questioned vendors who claimed we had to upgrade Windows to replace a power supply… on a system that ran Linux. I noted the absolutely true fact that when you have three surveys returned, the statistics are utterly meaningless. I presented facts and logic, even when they were inconvenient. And, too often, I did not hide that I knew more about some topics than my "superiors".

You would think that improving accuracy and performance would be the most important thing — particularly in healthcare.

That was not my experience. Not with that manager, or even with some of my co-workers.

This eventually ended up badly for me. Even though I wasn’t particularly interested in "recognition" or "promotion" or taking anyone’s job — just making my own job easier and more efficient — the results for me were sadly typical for neurospicy individuals, as I suddenly had to find new employment right at the end of the pandemic.

As I’ve learned more about my own neurospicy brain, I’ve realized that my experiences are common for people with my neurotype. And, sadly, so is the retaliation from allistics. {1}

Even now, years out from not having anything to do with that employer, I recently had to block an old manager from snooping on my socials… and then saw where several of their subordinates (or subordinates of their spouse) started creeping on them as well.

Which is kind of creepy and disturbing. Please stop; I know someone will show this to you.

The irony of all of this is that none of it was necessary — and is not necessary for other businesses, either. Neurospicy individuals can be a huge asset to a business. Providing accommodations for neurospicy folx is beneficial for all parties. Repeatedly, we see that autism doesn’t hold people back at work — discrimination does. And it’s not actually that hard to manage and work with us. Hell, there’s even easy to find tip sheets on the first page of any search engine (but here’s a direct link to one).

In the meantime, Applied Behavioral Analysis and "Autism Speaks" serve up an alternative world where neurodivergent individuals are browbeaten into simple conformity. They actively work to silence neurodivergent voices when they are inconvenient.

At one staff meeting, my manager at the time dismissed concerns about customer feedback surveys by saying, "It isn’t like we have anyone here who is an expert on surveys and statistics." Everyone looked at me. It was publicly known that I was also an adjunct teaching a research methods course — specifically covering surveys and statistics — at a local university at the time.

That manager — for not the first (or last) time — demonstrated their pettiness and lack of leadership with that comment.

So I offer this challenge to all of you who are — or may be — in leadership positions: Do you want to be a leader or manager who actually works with your neurodivergent employees? Do you want to have them in your corner supporting you, improving the workplace, and being an asset to the organization? Or do you want to be like my old manager, creating a hostile, toxic, and inefficient work environment because of the fragility of your ego?

{1} I am not getting into the Americans With Disabilities Act for a lot of reasons, not least being the obstacles in getting an "official" diagnosis as well as the very limited "benefits" that such will get you.

Featured Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay