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Should I Disclose? How to disclose disability at work

The Challenge

As a young adult with Autism (ASD) or ADHD, social emotional challenges can go undetected at work, the “invisible disability”, because nothing physical appears to be wrong with you. If you had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in school required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), that followed you from grade to grade, this no longer carries with you after graduation, when you step into the workforce. As a young adult with a disability, it will be up to you to disclose or not.

Once in the workplace, you are protected by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act to prohibit the discrimination of any worker with an intellectual, emotional, or physical disability. A choice to disclose requires extra effort to know when and how to disclose a disability to your employer, colleagues, or request accommodations.

Choosing to Disclose

According to the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy it is recommended that you consider the following things when disclosing:

How will the disability affect the recruiting process, the job interview, the hiring process, and your workflow and daily operations?

Choose a quiet place to disclose in confidence, leave room for questions, but play up your strengths.

Outline the pros and cons of the disability for yourself and your employer. You can disclose an ASD diagnosis or any disability at the following times, or never (Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2020):

  1. Application/Cover Letter

  2. Prior to or during the job interview

  3. In a phone call or reference

  4. Before any drug testing

  5. After you get a job offer

  6. Anytime over the course of your employment through Human Resources

Need help practicing disclosure? 

Practicing disclosure and requesting accommodations is recommended. Making a coach or consulting appointment with AutismSees’ Founder, Danielle Feerst OTR/L at iElevate Technology & Consulting, LLC, is an excellent way to hire a coach to have confidential expertise and peer mentorship while practicing your disclosure.

You can also practice with a relative or family member who you trust, a counselor, or already established therapist.

Are you feeling stigmatized at work and fearful of disclosure?

Know your rights. You are entitled to reasonable accommodations for a job interview and reasonable accommodations at work to perform job functions. You also should be able to disclose your disability at any time in confidence, and be judged on performance based upon your skills and merits.

For further assistance with disclosure, consultation on your rights under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, or for help with self-advocacy, call today to book a coaching appointment at (843) 437-6910 or email

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