Justin’s story

I am, without a doubt, both autistic and dyspraxic.

It’s an integral part of who I am, shaping my experiences and my unique perspective. Yet, it’s disheartening to continuously encounter the misconception that I am unintelligent. Don’t let my disabilities mislead you; I am far from stupid.

What confuses people is that I possess skills that defy their preconceived notions of dyspraxia and autism. I excel in finance, despite the challenges my dyspraxia presents. Unfortunately, this often leads others to assume I am either intellectually disabled or comparable to the fictional Rain Man.

But the reality is, I am simply myself – a person who is thoughtful, considerate, and kind-hearted. Contrary to popular belief, my interpersonal skills are not lacking.

One thing that deeply wounds me is the stark change in people’s attitudes and behaviour when I disclose my disabilities, particularly in a professional setting. Suddenly, my colleagues lose confidence in me. The dynamics shift, and I find myself on the outskirts of office conversations, tiptoeing on fragile eggshells. Such abrupt changes in behaviour hurt my feelings; after all, I have no intention of causing harm.

In the past, I’ve even felt as though people were spying on me, after a manager decided I needed micro-managing after disclosing my autism. Recently, during a job interview, when I disclosed my need for accommodations, the interviewers began speaking slowly and loudly, as if my intelligence had suddenly diminished. Needless to say, it completely deterred me from pursuing that job opportunity.

I wish it weren’t automatically assumed that I have a bad attitude just because I communicate differently than others. I may not always react or express myself in the expected manner – smiling at the appropriate times or crafting sugar-coated email responses – but it doesn’t mean I am untrustworthy. If only people were more willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, my life would be significantly easier. We all have our idiosyncrasies, and mine should not be a reason for doubt or scepticism.