Social Pleasantries

It’s been brought to my attention that there are people who expect me to be able to get a job, and complain that I am a cheat. This is false and requires a further explanation.

This isn’t a new subject. ASAN founder Ari Ne’eman has already called for social pleasantries to be eliminated as an employment requirement across the board – due to the fact that everyone on the Autistic Spectrum has issues of some description in this area. We have no social instinct. What we have at best is a robotic social skill set, which is seen as restricted by the public at large. It is not uncommon for us to be rude without knowing we have been rude, and upset people in the process. And what’s worse, we never get a full explanation as to why this happened. We are expected to work it out for ourselves. Without answers to questions, we can’t. That is the lack of instinct at work. Answering the questions is too much for many employers and that’s why they get rid of us – claiming unjustfiable hardship. That’s what the Defence Department did to me (forgetting for the moment that they had to set something up to make it look legal!). It also happened with Australia Post and I couldn’t react any other way then because I didn’t know that I was on the Autistic Spectrum.

Now I disagree with Ari on one point. Social pleasantries have to stay for jobs where the general public is inherently involved – jobs in sales and hospitality for example. Jobs in call centres are also like this. These are jobs that Autistics generally can not do – unless a special interest is involved. For example, an Autistic who is excellent at electronics would do okay in an electronics store (I was going to say Dick Smith, but that’s not appropriately any more!).

But when the general public is not involved, social pleasantries should be a two way street. The other members of staff should be expected to adjust. This is the problem – they don’t have to at present. So it doesn’t matter if the Autistic can do the actual job. If they can’t work in a team they won’t be employed. We are solitary people. We function best autonomously. We don’t function well when we are taken out of our routine – whether it be a base routine for those of us higher up the Spectrum (like me) or the total routine on the lower end. We can only be employed if this sort of environment is provided. If it is we are productive employees. It’s not an unreasonable demand, and yet for the sake of the team and the social atmosphere, employers don’t want to know.

For myself, I do have other issues – such as my present lifestyle routine which has developed to a pretty stringent level after 17 years of unemployment. That does not make me a bludger. It makes me a victim of a system that needs to change. I am entitled to the Disability Support Pension under these circumstances, and to say otherwise is against the facts of my life, and the lives of any other Autistic.

I have been told that there are two Autistics who go against this apparently. The first one has to be someone involved in a special interest. I’m pretty sure I know who they are talking about with the second example, and that person is not Autistic.

So don’t listen to anyone who calls me a cheat and a “dole bludger”. It’s defamation and I can easily prove it so.

If these people really do want me to work, they should stop trying to bully and bait me and start calling on employers to stop demanding social skills when they aren’t compulsory, and provide a base routine and relative autonomy. They can do it – they just don’t want to. And that’s their fault and not mine.

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