10 Things About Job Hunting with Asperger’s and Tourette’s

man writing on paper

  1. It’s not always necessary to suppress your tics. If you’re effing, blinding, jerking and grimacing your way through an interview, it certainly makes you memorable. And if the employer has a problem with your tics, then you probably don’t want to be employed by them anyway. They’re not good employers.
  2. Sometimes it’s necessary to suppress your tics, because people are not always kind. One potential employer told me that she didn’t think I could be hired on the basis of my Tourette’s. She said it would impinge on the duty of care they had to the customer. This person was wrong, and her implication was discriminatory.
  3. People are curious about Tourette’s and will ask you questions about your condition during the interview. The usual ones: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said? When did you get it? Do you ever say a curse and then pretend it was your Tourette’s? These questions are tiresome.
  4. Interviewers expect you to lie. To the classic question: what’s your weakness? I used to honestly respond stress, noisy environments, overwhelming workloads. Not a great response when every employer expects you to handle your stress, work flow and to not give a damn about the constant noise in the background.
  5. One-word answers are not acceptable even when one-word answers answer the actual question. I got a random “What do you think of Netflix?” once. To which I responded: “Good.” I didn’t get the job.
  6. People are more understanding than you think. I was terrified of coming out as autistic at my last job. Refreshingly, they didn’t give a shit.
  7. People are less understanding than you think. Whilst bartending between contracts, my colleague howled with laughter when I told her I was cursing because of my Tourette’s. “But how can you be a bartender with Tourette’s?” she asked. This was a stupid question. You can of course me anything with Tourette’s. Sure, I broke a few glasses and threw a few chairs, but I knew how to make a damn good margarita.
  8. Talk lots. My usual way of handling awkward situations is to provide brief responses, explain nothing and then move on with my life as quickly as possible. They don’t like this in interviews. They like words to come out of your mouth.
  9. Don’t talk too much. Waffling and rambling can be a side effect of nerves but quash that shit.
  10. A colleague once told me I handled my Tourette’s with “a chuckle and a shrug”. There’s not much you can do about having Tourette’s. It’s chronic and incurable. So, you might as well handle the ups and downs, the offers and the rejections, with a chuckle and a shrug.

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