DR RADICA MAHASE
Dear Potential Employer,
You don’t know me – yet. And I can assure you that when you do get to know me you will never want to let me go. My name is Roger. I am 21 years old and I am high functioning on the autism spectrum. If you look at me you won’t be able to tell that. I look like any young man out there.
I am writing to you because I believe that you are missing out by not having someone like me working in your business. You see, I am unique! And I mean that in a good way. Usually when we say someone is unique or different we think it’s a bad thing. Trust me, it is not. One of the traits that I have, as a person with autism, is that I pay very special attention to details and everything has to be very accurate. That means I will do my work very well. I don’t mind repetitive tasks so while one of your other workers might get bored, I won’t. I will actually enjoy doing repetitive things and I can be very productive then.
Also, I tend to see things differently and I think outside of the box. Because my mind works differently, I often look at things in ways others won’t. This will actually benefit your business because I might be able to see issues and analyse things in a way that your other employees might not. You might also like to know that I can be very focused and I have an excellent memory; this will help me to perform well when you employ me.
You have to know though, that everyone talks about the bad part of my autism. They keep saying that because I have autism it means that I have problems with social interaction. Yes, it is true that sometimes I don’t understand body language or facial expressions; sometimes I might not recognise how others are feeling and most of the time I might stick to myself. However, I can assure you that I will be polite and professional to everyone. That matters more right?
I think someone like me will actually be able to influence your other employees to be better people. When they interact with me and they begin to understand me and appreciate me just the way I am, they will become more open and accommodating. Maybe when they see that I am reliable and productive in the workplace they won’t judge people with special needs. Maybe you might even want to employ other individuals with special needs once you give me a chance and you see that I am actually a professional, productive employee.
Potential Employer, you can’t even imagine the happiness you will bring to my parents when you employ me. Me having a job? Gosh, that will give them a sense of relief, knowing that I can actually lead a fulfilling life, that I have an opportunity to get an income, no matter how small, that there is some hope for me to have a career-based future. They love me more than anything in this world and I know they worry about me but once you employ me they will be the happiest parents in the world! I really want them to be the happiest parents in the world!
This is not a job application, just a letter to explain to you how your business can benefit by having me as an employee. Yes, I have unique traits; yes I am different in many ways; and yes, I can be productive in a work environment. The thing is most people don’t take the time to see beyond my autism or to understand that autism or not, I can be productive, I can earn a living.
Ban Ki-moon said, “People with autism have enormous potential. Most have remarkable visual, artistic or academic skills… Recognising the talents of persons on the autism spectrum, rather than focusing on their weaknesses, is essential to creating a society that is truly inclusive.”
Potential Employer, listen to him, he was the former secretary general of the United Nations. He wants companies to hire more people like me so that we can lead fulfilling lives. If you listen to him and employ me then you will help to make TT more inclusive! You have the power to do that!
Dr Radica Mahase is founder/director, Support Autism T&T