What If the Tables were Turned

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What if The Tables were Turned . . .

What would it be like if autistics were the founders, owners, leaders, managers, and supervisors in most businesses in the world?

And we told the non-autistics that we would train them for bottom-level entry jobs but they could work their way up, maybe.

And we told the non-autistics we would provide specialized training just for them, so they might possibly succeed.

And we told them managerial positions were hard to come by because of certain character traits the non-autistics lacked.

And we told them that we decided to choose someone else for the job because they didn’t do well in the interview.

And we told them they needed more experience before we could hire them, even though we recognized no one else would likely give them the experience they needed, based on how poorly they presented themselves in our autistic world.

And we told them we couldn’t help them.

And we told them, No, I don’t know where else you might look. But here’s a book you can read.

And we told them exactly what it was about them that wasn’t a fit or we chose to say nothing, because we just got a general overall feeling they wouldn’t fit in and didn’t seem a good risk with our autistic culture.

And we told them, if hired, they would have to attend emotional IQ seminars. Not the autistics, just the non-autistics.

And we told them to avoid socializing in the break room, to hyper-focus for ten hours straight, to spend some time in solitude for five days, to stay on the same topic for one hour in conversations, and to particularly avoid small talk, because that was our way.

And we told them, most often in indirect ways, that they had to work on themselves, so we could tolerate being around them and they wouldn’t bother us and waste work time. Especially their talking about meaningless topics.

And we had meetings behind closed doors, where autistics taught autistics about non-autistics and how to manage them more effectively. The non-autistics weren’t invited.

And we developed seminars and profiteered off of the non-autistics: How to accommodate non-autistic spectrum disorder in the workplace. Taught by autistics. We charged top dollar. It was urgently needed.

And we invested money in experts, who were autistic, that explained to us, autistics, ways in which the non-autistics commonly fail in normal settings. Or if not “fail,” then ways to avoid failing. We even provided handbooks and guidelines. Some we shared with them.

And we called them “them.”

And we heard about a cure for them. We read the articles. Non-autistics had something akin to a puzzle or a missing piece of something. We liked that we had whatever they were missing.

And we told them, even after they tried hard, and followed the guidelines and suggestions, and sat in on the seminars, and listened to everything that was different about them, that they still needed to try better and to look at their actions. We didn’t hesitate to highlight what they could improve upon during performance reviews. We needed to treat them like everyone else during evaluations. Equality.

And we told them and demonstrated through our readings of books and watching of YouTubes about non-autistics (and note taking), that we were trying our very hardest to make the workplace welcoming to everyone. Though we really hoped they didn’t complain or ask for special services. They could function just fine. After all, we all need to learn to adjust sometime.

And we took liberty to comment on ways they could communicate better, even in short memos or quick email correspondence, just small little remarks to remind them of how to act accordingly. Gentle reminders. Even as we knew, they’d likely do it again, and we shook our heads and laughed some.

And we made sure to give them opportunities to be leaders in meetings, as long as we were the ones that organized the agenda and told everyone what to do. After all, they need our guidance.

And we treated them a little bit less than. Not on purpose.

And then we told them, you know we are all a little bit non-autistic in some ways. I mean, sometimes I have a hard time at the same things you do. I know what it’s like to be non-autistic.

And then we told them, we should celebrate and include everyone. What about me? I have challenges. Let’s celebrate everyone!

And then, we would scoff a bit, when a few of them felt uneasy by their circumstances. Hadn’t they learned, yet?

And then, we’d wonder why they were still struggling, still misinterpreting what we said, still not fitting in after all the work we’d done!

And then, an autistic whispered: “Maybe this isn’t working.”

And someone, in the back room, a non-autistic, raised her hand, and said, “What if the tables were turned?”

Like this article? Check out more on this blog. Connect with Marcelle Ciampi on Linkedin or Samantha Craft on Twitter or myspectrumsuite.com.

Samantha Craft’s Autistics Traits List

Bio:  Marcelle Ciampi, M.Ed. (aka Samantha Craft)

Marcelle Ciampi (aka Samatha Craft) is a respected autistic author and community advocate, is best known for her writings found in the well-received book Everyday Aspergers. A professional educator, she has been featured in various literature, including peer-reviewed journals, Autism Parenting Magazine, The Mighty, Project Aspie, Art of Autism, and Different Brains. Marcelle works as the Recruitment Manager and Outreach Specialist at Ultranauts Inc., an engineering firm with a neurodiversity-hiring initiative, and is a consultant for Uptimize and Spectrum Fusion. A contributing author of Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, Marcelle speaks globally on the topic of neurodiversity. She also serves as the founder of Spectrum Suite LLC, the co-founder of the Spectrum Lights Inclusion Summit, co-executive of LifeGuides for Autistics (neuroguides.org), and a contributor and advisor to autism organizations and conferences internationally. Some of her works, especially The Ten Traits, have been translated into multiple languages and been shared in counseling offices around the world. She resides in the Pacific Northwest U.S.A. with her sons and life partner.

“Everyday Aspergers is an unusual and powerful exploration of one woman’s marvelously lived life. Reminiscent of the best of Anne Lamott, Everyday Aspergers jumps back and forth in time through a series of interlocking vignettes that give insight and context to her lived experience as an autistic woman. The humor and light touch is disarming, because underneath light observations and quirky moments are buried deep truths about the human experience and about her own work as an autistic woman discerning how to live her best life. From learning how to make eye contact to finding ways to communicate her needs to being a dyslexic cheerleader and a fraught mother of also-autistic son, Samantha Craft gives us a marvelous spectrum of experiences. Highly recommended for everyone to read — especially those who love people who are just a little different.”

~ Ned Hayes, bestselling author of The Eagle Tree



33 thoughts on “What If the Tables were Turned

  1. Yes!!

    And we told them “oh, you can’t hyperfocus for hours on end? You need to stop and eat in the middle? You’re a wuss. You don’t try hard enough. We’re going to demote you.”

    Yes!! I love this post 🙂

    And we told them they had to stop TALKING about frivolous stuff all the time. To stop standing around the water cooler and get back to work already.

    And we told them that they were too shallow.

    And we told them they weren’t detailed enough, not thorough enough, not careful enough. And we called them lazy and called them into our office for a remediation meeting about their performance.

    And we told them to stop staring at us when talking to us.

    And we disciplined them for their dishonesty when they didn’t say what they meant.

    And we chastised them for not being consistent and adhering to the routine.

    Turning the tables is awesome 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’so sad this separation between autistic and non autistic persons. Inclusion from both side should be. Just persond in the same world in justice love and beauty

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is particularly timely as I wait to hear if I passed a phone screener to get to the interview for a job to work outside the house. Part of me thinks it’s better to work-at-home, as I’ve been doing for nearly 10 years now because of these very reasons, but I’m hoping now that I know I’m Autistic, it will help me to interpret things better and (hopefully) present myself better should they call me for the interview. But it’s not my world, not yet, and I know that, too. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YUP! Nailed it. This is incredible. I e-mailed this to an inner circle and recommended it on google. So GOOD! Oh bTW I sent the email to that other addy. Hopefully it came through…Maybe check your junk mail. It says from Kmarie in the heading:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m “neuro-typical” but (although I see the point you’re making) honestly I think most workplaces WOULD be better off if Aspie/Autistic people were in charge. I have worked with Aspies in several jobs and it was a joy each time. For me it was such a relief to work with people who weren’t always lying, manipulating, and gabbing endlessly (I am very introverted and HATE small talk). I despise that the outgoing/”charismatic” types always rise to the top of everything regardless of merit, and then manipulate and bully everyone else.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Yes, yes, yes – you do know how to put it all into words so wonderfully well!! Thank you for this. “…treated them at little bit less, not on purpose” is something I think about when considering whether or not to tell someone I have discovered my aspieness.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just had to add the positive side of the telling friends picture. I told a friend of 5 years today and she just nodded and said she had figured that was a distinct possibility. She already knew! And she treated me no differently and will continue to treat me no differently. Very fortunate to find the right person; it takes away a little bit of the sense of not belonging 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. “And we told them, most often in indirect ways, that they had to work on themselves, so we could tolerate being around them and they wouldn’t bother us and waste work time. Especially their talking about meaningless topics.”

    No, we’d tell it straight to their faces.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If autistics were the majority, half of non-autistics would be in jail for ethics violations and corruption. All these corrupt politicians, jail. All these people that violated people in the #MeToo movement, jail. Corrupt bankers that caused the great recession, jail by the end of first year. All corrupt people period would be in jail. Only people left would be decent human beings.


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