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Key Points

  • you choose who you share your information with
  • it is your choice to disclose that you are autistic.

What is disclosure?

Disclosure is when you tell another person that you have a disability or need workplace adjustments because of your disability.

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) define disclosure as “telling someone you are autistic”. 

Examples of disclosure:

  • telling someone you are autistic
  • telling someone you have a disability
  • telling someone you need workplace adjustments.

Soft Disclosure

Soft disclosure is when you tell people about challenges you experience, without directly using the word ‘autistic’.

An example is telling someone that you cannot concentrate if your work environment is too loud. In this example, you are not disclosing that you’re Autistic. You are disclosing that you are sensitive to loud noise.

Do I need to disclose?

You do not have to tell other people that you are autistic.

An employment contract, though, might have sections in it about ‘fitness for work’ and ‘disclosure of information’.

If someone tells you they are autistic, you should not tell other people unless they have given you permission. 

Can disclosure be helpful?

There are times when disclosing that you are autistic can be helpful. 

This might include:

  • wanting your managers and colleagues to understand you better
  • wanting to ask for supports that will make working easier for you
  • wanting to change a work task that is difficult for you
  • wanting to help build a more inclusive environment at work.

Before you disclose

If you are thinking about disclosing at work, you might want to think about the following:

  • how much do you want to share about yourself?
  • am I comfortable with many people knowing, or do I just want a few people to know?
  • am I going to feel okay with people asking me questions?
  • do I need support to talk about disclosing?
  • do I have someone to support me after I disclose?

People might ask you questions about being autistic because:

  • they don’t know what autism is
  • they don’t understand that every autistic person is different.

Having information that you can share with people about autism might be helpful if you choose to talk about being autistic.

Disclosure is an ongoing choice

You can always choose who you share your information with. 

You do not have to tell everyone you are autistic just because you disclosed at your workplace. 

You can choose how much information to share.

How to disclose

Disclosing can be as simple as letting someone know in conversation, or answering plainly if someone asks you to describe yourself.

Aspect have produced helpful resources for autistic people who are considering disclosure. There are also resources for people who are supporting an autistic person who may want to disclose.

Case story

Griffin works at a supermarket. They have been asked to work at the front of the store - greeting people and supporting them to use the electronic checkouts. Griffin finds it challenging to have to speak to new people every day and they feel rushed when they try to help customers. Griffin speaks to their manager and tells them that they are autistic and feel very stressed in the current role. Griffin asks if they can move to a different role in the store where they have less customer contact and more time to think about their tasks. Griffin’s Manager arranges for them to work in the meat department, so they have the same colleagues every day, and Griffin is given the responsibility of stocking and monitoring the shelves.

Real Life Story