Neurodiverse In The Open: To Self-Identify Or Not?

by Cris Brady

Socially, in the dating world, I have disclosed my challenge.  My ex wife took advantage of my condition and some people really just do not know how to or do not want to learn about it. It is kind of a confusing issue for me. At times I just have to see how a person may be interested in accepting  me and take it from there.  – Greg

Neurodiversity and Self-Identification

We’ve all seen the failures of the one-size fits all approach to policy, education and workplace design. As we learn more about neuroscience, and best practices for learning and producing, it’s become increasingly obvious that our systems are too large, awkward, and set in their ways to effect substantive change in a reasonable amount of time. As a result, we often rely on reactionary solutions, but with every solution comes a new problem. One of the biggest has been our reliance on forcing people to self-identify in order to receive accommodations.

The Cons of Self-Identification

Why would anyone choose to NOT self-identify and get the accommodations they need?

Although self-identifying provides access to much needed services, there are several reasons people choose to go without:

  • They may want to shed a label they’ve been forced to carry their whole lives;
  • They’re looking prove to themselves that they can accomplish something (e.g. college) without help;
  • They’re tired of inaccurate stigmas and/or misinformation, that masks their abilities;
  • They don’t have any actual proof (e.g. an official assessment) required to get accommodations;
  • They’re afraid they might lose their job;
  • They simply don’t want to be treated differently, and/or;
  • They aren’t even aware they even have a learning disability.
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Anticipation Anxiety

I have faced this when my Dad or Boss would call me into an office because most the I have had bad experiences in this area.  Job interviews or first dates bring the same.  – Greg

by Dania Jekel, Executive Director, and Sonia Janks, Contributing Editor

I’ve used this platform many times to talk about anxiety because I think it is the most common and most difficult challenge almost everyone in our community faces, no matter the age. I am still surprised the American Psychiatric Association did not consider anxiety a core feature when it defined the criteria for an autism diagnosis in the DSM-5. The impact of anxiety for those with autism can pervade almost every part of life and, in some situations, it can become completely debilitating. 
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