Sidelined

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I’ve got some significant disappointment going on. I’m one of the lucky ones that has managed to find a job that mostly works well for my autistic neurology. It took until my 40s to get there, but I am privileged to be paid well and for my employers to be open to supporting my needs as a disabled woman.

I think that’s the first time I’ve called myself that. Disabled woman. That I ‘said’ it first in print makes sense, because these days, I try to limit the amount I have to speak out loud outside of my house.

Which is where the disappointment bit comes in. It’s dawning on me that despite the very best wishes to accommodate me, my disability will impact on my ability to thrive in my job. And it needn’t. But it does.

Because it’s one thing to understand that being present for large meetings, participating in staff functions and meeting over coffee with a group of colleagues to discuss some aspect of work is not something I can do without causing myself harm. But it’s another thing to understand the ways that NOT participating in these things holds me back.

Because it’s one thing to say that I don’t need to do these things to do my job (which I definitely don’t), and it’s another to watch as others advance their careers by being able to do just these things.

The default setting in our workplaces, in our society, is set by neurotypical, non-disabled people. They set the bar. They make the rules. They may attempt to alter the rules to make it possible for those of us that can’t reach the bar to keep playing. But there is a cost of doing this and the cost is watching ourselves become side lined.

This is disappointing. Because despite doing my job really well, I will struggle to move forward without the ability to do the ‘corridor’ talk, to do the coffee ‘catch ups’, to do the endless rounds of  meetings.

I wish our society and our workplaces could see this. I wish they could understand that by sidelining us they are missing out on our contributions.

And I am one of the lucky ones.

 

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