Autism and Aspergers
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I keep getting fired

DavTho1983DavTho1983 Member Posts: 6 Listener
edited October 2019 in Autism and Aspergers
I am a web developer. I have mostly worked with startups with little or no HR in place. Every time I disclose I am on the autistic spectrum, I get fired.

It usually starts with my disclosure, then they start talking slowly to me, then they won't believe I've understood things and there is just no getting through to them about what I understand, then they let me go and tell me it's about technical skills.

I feel I do need to tell people about my disability because they like to put me in situations that stress me out and make me vulnerable, where there are loud noises or lots of people. I also get overloaded with lots of information from different sources.

I am at my wit's end - I feel I will never be able to have a job where I use my intelligence or ability to learn a lot of complex skills quickly. I am so tired of being talked down to by people who do not understand what I mean when I tell them their graph database won't work because the edges mean they have circular relationships and they don't get how I could see so they ignore it.

This used to happen in school with my teachers then I would ace the exam, but I thought it would get better as an adult. It just seems that the point of having a job is not doing well or contributing or solving problems, but something else I can't understand.

Any advice about getting a job and keeping it?

Replies

  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,924

    Scope community team

    edited September 2019
    Hi @DavTho1983. I'm sorry you've had such a rough time in employment. Unfortunately, I've found that startups can often cut corners and aren't always the secure employment. You should really speak to ACAS or EASS for some advice, because while it can be difficult to prove, what they're doing isn't okay. We have some information about discrimination at work here.

    Have you ever tried working from home? A lot of web development is moving remotely now, so that might be an option for you. You could also take a look at the National Autistic Society's Autism-friendly employers.

    Hopefully some of our members will be able to share their experiences with you and give you some tips. In the meantime, we do have a range of free employment services here that might be of use to you.
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  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,924

    Scope community team

    Hi @DavTho1983. How are you doing today?

    Have you had a chance to look at any of the services I've linked? I'm also going to tag in @Mwila_Scope and @Pia_Scope from our Support to Work service in case they have any additional advice for you. :)
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    Scope

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  • dolfrogdolfrog Member Posts: 440 Pioneering
    edited September 2019
    I am a web developer. I have mostly worked with startups with little or no HR in place. Every time I disclose I am on the autistic spectrum, I get fired.

    It usually starts with my disclosure, then they start talking slowly to me, then they won't believe I've understood things and there is just no getting through to them about what I understand, then they let me go and tell me it's about technical skills.

    I feel I do need to tell people about my disability because they like to put me in situations that stress me out and make me vulnerable, where there are loud noises or lots of people. I also get overloaded with lots of information from different sources.

    I am at my wit's end - I feel I will never be able to have a job where I use my intelligence or ability to learn a lot of complex skills quickly. I am so tired of being talked down to by people who do not understand what I mean when I tell them their graph database won't work because the edges mean they have circular relationships and they don't get how I could see so they ignore it.

    This used to happen in school with my teachers then I would ace the exam, but I thought it would get better as an adult. It just seems that the point of having a job is not doing well or contributing or solving problems, but something else I can't understand.

    Any advice about getting a job and keeping it?
    I know where you are coming from,
    I do not have any real answers, as I am now classified as being unemployable mainly becase employers do not want to understand the complex nature of my disability, and more importantly work to how I am best able to work around my limitations, which is more about complex problem solving, or seeing things differently from others. 
    I hope you find an employer who is willing to understand you and provide the accommodations you may require. 
    Good luck
  • DavTho1983DavTho1983 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Thankyou - I'm sure you are very good at complex problem solving - I just wish problem solving was part of work! It seems whatever job you're at, whatever they say about the expectations, getting stuff done right and removing obstacles to that happening can actually hurt your chances of continued employment. Good luck!
  • PIPdOffPIPdOff Member Posts: 1 Listener
    edited September 2019
    New member here. I have encountered friends who have experienced what you have been going through for which I sympathise. 

    At first sight this looks like classic direct discrimination contrary to the core purpose and objectives of the 2010 Equality Act. You can as a disabled person be subject to such less favourable treatment even during the job application process, and you have additional rights as soon as you commence work, in particular if as you say the reason for firing and mistreating or patronising you was directly related to your disability. 

    Mind you to prove you've been subject to discrimination is often the real challenge, as an employer will usually deny any wrongdoing, or lie. You need evidence and if you don't have any (e.g taped, even if done covertly, conversations where discriminatory words and practices are carried out). Surprisingly such covert recordings, though rather underhand, can be used as very good evidence against unscrupulous and discriminatory employers, of which sadly there are many, and most have no shame - that is of course until they are caught out !

    As Adrian says above the EASS are a very good place to start. Their helpline staff are very caring. ACAS are pretty useless at discrimination stuff and would only refer you to the EASS.  Here's a link to EASS website (I hope as a newbie it will upload). 

    https://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/

    I may not be online very often, but will keep an eye on this, and if i can be of some use I will do my best to offer some additional support or guidance. 
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,924

    Scope community team

    Hi @PIPdOff and a warm welcome. Thank you so much for the informative and helpful post. Hope to see you around the community. :)
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  • DavTho1983DavTho1983 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Hi @Adrian_Scope - thanks for your helpful advice - I'm sorry I've been quite down, but also very busy with a technical test for a new job.

    I really want to work from home, but it takes quite a lot of experience, and I'm not very confident - I want to see more of how other professionals solve problems before I do contracting.

    Thanks @PIPdOff for your help - I contacted ACAS and am considering the first step of appealing the decision of my dismissal - although I have no idea what they will do if they un-fire me? I wouldn't want to do 

    Thanks for your support @dolfrog.

    I want to explore getting some kind of mentor - are there are mentoring services for autistic people? Are there meetup groups to find other autistic people? I guess that might sound counter intuitive - I have always avoided meetups and I think most of us do, but I'm feeling like I need to meet other people with the same issues.

  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,924

    Scope community team

    Hi @DavTho1983, I understand working from home can seem like quite a big step and from personal experience, it does require a lot of self-motivation. Hopefully you'll be able to continue building your confidence until you feel ready to take the plunge.

    If it helps, Autism Forward offer a mentoring service and you can find some more details about those here.
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope

    Your feedback is really important to the development of the online community, so please remember to complete our online community annual survey
  • DavTho1983DavTho1983 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Just an update - I made it through 2 very hard technical tests and 3 rounds of interviews for a great web development job with a company that does satellite communications, but I think I may have failed at the final round because of my patchy employment history. Keep getting fired makes me look like a poor candidate. I don't know what to do, and am now relying on references from people I had hoped to never have any contact with ever again. Is there anything I can do?
  • vysvadervysvader Member Posts: 134 Courageous
    edited October 2019
    Hiya,

    In theory, according to some privacy laws (even without the addition of the Equality Act 2010), your ex-employers are only entitled to disclose that you had been working there and how long period of time it was for, but nothing else (even nothing about your performance and especially, none of their pseudo-medical, pseudoscientific diagnoses/reports). So, in a pragmatic manner, can you lean on that? Look around you. If yes, if ex/future colleges don't use to breach the laws then they don't have any reason to bother/call each other, there's no point to get in touch. One can guess, they could think that "it's normal" because anyone knows it works like this, anyone like all the "guardians" of the laws.

    I hope someone corrects me if I'm wrong but it seems that at the moment, the only thing that you can do is that before you give the phone number, you can test your ex-employers or try to directly talk to ex-employers about it. You don't really have other options and without anyone inside, also no legal way how to prove it at any time when it happens.

    Best regards,
    J. Vysvader 
    You can feel free to get in touch 
  • vysvadervysvader Member Posts: 134 Courageous
    edited October 2019
    P.s.:

    May I ask you? Is 1983 the date of your birth, your favorite year, or something else? I've seen a few nicknames (perhaps, from aspies) written in the same pattern but what do you associate the year to? What does it mean?

    Thanks
    You can feel free to get in touch 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @DavTho1983, how are you getting on? :)
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  • DavTho1983DavTho1983 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Hi @vysvader - thanks for your reply - I think the job offer is conditional on me having good character references tho - they want to hear I am a good worker and not disruptive. I would like my past employers to tell my prospective employers that I am a good person, but I don't think they will. The truth is I am disruptive when I have just worked a 60hr week with no adjustments having been made for my sensory issues - I meltdown! I also am not diplomatic about subjects like unreachable targets, GDPR breaches, and things there is no point attempting because they are technically impossible - I am inclined to be blunt!

    Hi @Chloe_Scope - thanks for asking! I just went to my GP, who told me I don't have a well-developed theory of mind and must try harder to acquire one - I think I do have a well developed theory of mind and if I didn't there would be no point trying to acquire one seeing as I am familiar with the concept but have somehow not managed to cultivate one independently!

    Other than that, I am still waiting to hear back from this job that I am more than capable of doing (I learned 3 different technologies for two different tech tests in the space of a week). I worked so so hard - long days at my computer exploring a lot of things that are not well-documented or understood by many other people. I am exhausted!

    I still don't think I will get this job tho because my employment history makes people suspicious - and I do need help in the workplace and companies run a mile at the thought of any kind of difference. Also I have had to tell my bosses a few times their plans will not work and people don't seem to like the truth. I'm not mean, I'm not disruptive or anti-authoritarian, but I must tell the truth, and that gets me into trouble.

    On the plus side, I have discovered some really good socks - lovely patterns and fit, which is a minor consolation, but a consolation nevertheless.

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @DavTho1983, Sounds like things are very uncertain at the moment, this mustn't be easy for you. 

    Like you say, you have managed without a certain level of theory of mind up until this point. But that's the beauty of the human mind, we are so great at being able to adapt when things don't go to plan.

    Between you and me, I do not know my timetables or how to tell the time, apparently this is a part of my cerebral palsy and how my brain processes numbers. However, I still get by, just like you have done. :)

    I really hope for a positive result with the job interview, please do let us know!

    I think honest is something that people may not be used to, and like you have said, you don't mean it in a harsh way. 

    That's a very good plus to me! What are these socks like? Pattern and fit are very important! :)
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  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,924

    Scope community team

    I'm really hoping for a good result for you @DavTho1983. There is a lot of resistance in the workplace to anything that might require anything other than a one-size-fits-all approach, but there will be employers out there who are willing to take a chance. Do you ever manage to get any constructive feedback from these interviews?
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    Scope

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  • DavTho1983DavTho1983 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    I'm good at interviews! Everybody always says they warm to my personality - I know how to make people feel relaxed and usually get people laughing - the problem is people are suspicious of my experience - I have moved around a lot coz I always get fired after the 3 or 6 month review coz I'm different. I work hard, I learn quickly, I usually solve two or three problems they could not have solved without my ideas, but I do have autistic meltdowns and I do get fired. People get a vibe I'm disruptive - and I am when faced with nonsense - if I have to point out the current task will take 15years or that the database logic will categorically not work or what the product team has just sold is not only unfeasible but illegal, I get really stressed out. I'm not mean or deliberately anti-authority, but I do get annoyed with people who don't seem to want to fix things or make something good, and I can't stand liars. Even then I only get annoyed if I've been working 60hr weeks for 2 months and the lead dev has gone on holiday and left no-one in charge and I'm being talked to in a baby-voice about things I understand better than anyone else!

    Sorry if that comes across as extremely emotive but I have worked so hard at this career - I have been homeless (and technically I still am) - I lived in a warehouse dorm where the toilets exploded one morning - I have been very very poor. All the time I kept learning new skills and looking after my little cat. All the time I have tried to encourage people and made a lot of friends, but I can't crack this job thing and I don't see a secure future for myself, even tho I have to be twice as smart and work twice as hard as other developers.
  • vysvadervysvader Member Posts: 134 Courageous
    edited October 2019
    Hi @DavTho1983

    I also am not diplomatic about subjects like unreachable targets, GDPR breaches, and things there is no point attempting because they are technically impossible 
    Thnx for your reply. For my university, I had to spend a lot of time drawing flowcharts, and other either visual or non-visual presentations of software architecture/design like with scenarios and use cases. It was my good luck that I met professors having many own experiences who thought that communication through presentations is the only effective way of communication between programmers and their management studying in the economy, management, HR, etc. The truth is that whenever you start to persuade about a complex problem-solving issue (someone from management) then you should stick with an in-depth explained mix of visual and textual presentation having links to sources (that verify your words like e.g. benchmarks, etc) and flowcharts for easy understanding (not only for non-programmers, your future technically disadvanced management which you'll talk about it in your next jobs because also the programming colleges do have different composition of knowledge). 

    To be honest, even in IT companies, the chances are, some of your future management doesn't have to be from the IT field (at all). They can come also from other industries. Even, I had experienced interviews for IT roles with managers who directly told me that they can't really discuss the topics because they didn't study anything from IT and just fill the questionnaire (they got the desired answers from someone else). Maybe, it will be my ex-management from a different industry (for example). Once, I told one of the many ex-managements that I study in computer science (that I'm a programmer) and their answer was: "Wow, so you're good in tablets and mobiles, yea? You can repair something for us". And there were also some others, like one of my ex-bosses thinks that programming is a user-based work with programs like playing with Whatsup (years ago, I met her as a waitress but she studied in the economy, it's gonna be a manager). In extreme, those people that I grew up with, one of them once talked that when we were kids, I got my first comp from my parents 2 years later than him (he's 34, we got, we'd got the access all decades ago). So from his young age, he has spent a lot of time using the comp for playing Youtube, studying about growing weed and [removed by moderator], meantime, he didn't study computer science. Until now, none of those people understand how "I can know so well to work with computers" when he always compares the two of us... His people still ask themselves: can I know something that he doesn't and am I not silly...  :). Also, once, you can meet a few of these people that will be introduced you as your new managers. Better, try the flowcharts. Please, try on them some images...

    Best regards,
    J. Vysvader


    You can feel free to get in touch 
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