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To go public, or not go public...

About a month ago, I met a pretty amazing man. His name is Greg Baugues. He's a developer evangelist for Twilio (a company that provides developers the ability to make phone calls and send text messages from their applications).

He has ADD and Type II Bipolar, and he speaks regularly about his story.

In fact, that's basically why Twilio hired him (and for that, I have no end of love and respect for Twilio).

He speaks about it, because in my industry (software development), there is a high rate of people who suffer from some form of "mental illness" and/or neurological differences, not the least of which being Depression and ASDs. The problem, of course, is that no one talks about these things. As such, we lose such great people as Aaron Swartz, in no small part because they're not comfortable or ashamed to get the help they need.

So, for the past month, I've been kicking around the idea of going public about my own dealings with Autism and Depression. I definitely feel that it's necessary to be open about these things, so that people can get the help and support they need.

I'm also terrified at the idea, and the ramifications it may/will have for me.

Now, I've always been the type to hold high standards for potential jobs. I won't take something that seems like it won't be a good match, even if the pay is good, and I won't hesitate to leave if I feel the job is doing me harm and doesn't show signs of improving. I also feel that being public with it will ultimately help me find places that best fit my needs. (I'm actually half-tempted to apply for the Developer Evangelist job that Twilio has open and be a second Greg, except for the fact that I can do public speaking to save my life.)

It still scares the crap out of me to actually go through with it.

Ultimately, I think I will, but I'll be spending quite a bit of time crafting exactly what I end up posting on my professional blog, and probably line up a few blog posts on the matter before I actually post anything.


That is something you should take very carefully into consideration, What are the possible consequences of coming out?

Personally, I have chosen not to come out at work. For one thing, I don't have a formal diagnosis. All my diagnostic "work" was done long before, at a time when you simply did not mention such things, and so for the most part I have functioned as normal although a bit quirky. Although I hope that at my age the bullying and teasing I received when I was younger is now a thing of the past, experience has taught me it is not always so, and it is not a good idea to provide people with ammunition to shoot you. In general, I tend to play things very close to the vest. I was also shaped by a hostile work environment where the less you disclosed about yourself the better off you were; that staying under the radar was the key to survival in that particular environment. I am actually more free on AC than I am in person.
Yep, a lot of those concerns are what I'm mulling over right now.

What I plan to do, though, isn't to "come out to work," but rather "come out to the world." In this way, the only company that has hired me under the NT impression is the one that I'm working at at the time I do it. Subsequent ones will know as soon as they find my professional blog.

Now, this has the obvious "disadvantage" of losing a number of prospects to discrimination. My own hard-learned experience, though, is that key people in such companies will likely discriminate, anyway. I actually had a boss one time, who I think his sister-in-law was mildly Autistic, and I wanted to knock his head off his shoulders for the disparaging things he said about her. He proceeded to bully me out of my job, in part by telling me that I had six weeks to change what were basically fundamental personality items, or I was fired, and refused to give me any more details on the problem or how I could demonstrate progress.

Given that, I don't see it as much of a disadvantage, and I think it can, in fact, work out to be an advantage, as it leaves the people who are more willing to work with me even knowing full well that I have some issues that require a bit of special handling. I do know, though, that I've got a luxury in my ability to do this, because I'm in a field with a high demand for workers, and therefore have no shortage of potential employers (or clients if/when I can get my own freelancing off the ground).

There's also the matter that we can't fix a problem if we never talk about it. Flying under the radar may work, but it's still a band-aid, in my opinion. It takes a lot of effort on our part to basically "avoid detection," and blend in, and it generally blows up in our face at least once. For those of us in a better position to start bringing these discussions out into the open, I almost feel like we're honor-bound to do so, so that it helps everyone. It's still a huge and scary as hell leap, though.
I think a full public announcement is a bad idea from a purely pragmatic perspective. Once you do that, there is no going back. Sure, some people will understand, but most won't. AS/ASD is widely misunderstood. You won't get the same reactions your friend did. My mother's initial reaction was to liken me to the VT Tech shooter.
you know what; if someone isint bold enough to start it first ... then theres never gonna be a change. I think you should do it. Actualy I think everyone should do it. People need to know what AS is and for people to know there needs to be someone crazy enough to do it first remember you are not alone, you have other crazy people like me that suport that ideia.
Hardships will come with it. But the final results my dear are bether. Actualy I am very inspired by Aarons story. He worked for Ideias, and that inspieres me, and i want to do that to.
I think you should do it.

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