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HomeHRhow do I stability my very own incapacity wants with cultural sensitivity...

how do I stability my very own incapacity wants with cultural sensitivity at work? — Ask a Supervisor


It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” query. A reader writes:

I’m the group lead for a challenge growing a brand new social service, and one substantial a part of that new service shall be particularly for indigenous communities. Our group is starting a strategy of indigenous neighborhood engagement, and we’re being met with a variety of wariness/skepticism as a result of lengthy historical past of non-indigenous folks coming into indigenous communities and trying to “develop providers” that really hurt indigenous communities (ex. residential faculties, the sixties scoop, and many others).

As a way to develop this relationship, our predominant indigenous contact has invited us to a pow-wow and has prompt that we must always attend further pow-wows and indigenous cultural occasions as a approach to construct belief with the indigenous neighborhood (and presumably as a gesture of goodwill to point out that we’re prepared to method indigenous communities with humility and as visitors quite than specialists). I feel this might be a really precious factor for our group to do and I’m supportive of the thought.

Nonetheless, I’m autistic, and normally I discover cultural occasions (together with spiritual occasions, parades, events, concert events, assemblies, stay music, musical theater, and many others.) very overstimulating. I get overwhelmed simply by loud music and by crowds, and from my analysis about pow-wows, I perceive that they’re prone to be each loud and crowded. Usually after I should be in loud/crowded conditions (ex. on an airplane), I deliver noise-cancelling headphones and take breaks every time I’m getting overwhelmed, or I usually select to depart early (ex. at events). Nonetheless, I’m nervous that these methods would appear disrespectful and inappropriate at an indigenous cultural occasion and would serve to undermine the connection I hope to construct.

However I additionally fear that I could not be capable to tolerate many hours of loud music/crowds with out exhibiting noticeable indicators of misery, and if I appear to be I’m not having fun with myself or if I’m fidgeting/agitated/doing the conventional issues I’d do to scale back overstimulation, that might additionally undermine the connection with indigenous communities and likewise set a foul instance for my group. I’m not assured in my skill to “masks” sufficiently properly in this sort of state of affairs to keep away from others noticing my discomfort, and I feel my nervousness about the potential of getting overstimulated would put me on edge for many of the day.

I’m unsure deal with this. I feel going to the pow-wow is vital and mandatory, since I’m the first contact for this challenge and it’s vital that indigenous neighborhood members see me there and see that I respect their tradition and am prepared to be taught from them. I don’t suppose I can simply ship another person in my place. I additionally don’t really feel snug disclosing my incapacity or potential disability-related wants.

None of my colleagues know I’m autistic, and prior to now when I’ve disclosed my autism at different jobs, I’ve both been disbelieved (as a result of when folks consider an autistic individual, they’re not considering of a really high-functioning early-30s lady with two grasp’s levels from an Ivy League faculty and a director-level place at a giant group) or handled with child gloves (as a result of folks have assumptions about autism that they apply to me and instantly assume I’m incompletent at my job).

However I additionally know that unfamiliar social conditions + loud music + crowds are all triggers for autistic overstimulation (and I usually keep away from occasions exterior of labor because of this…I by no means go along with colleagues to a bar or pub after work as a result of I simply can’t deal with it), and the stakes listed here are fairly excessive…I must make a superb impression in an effort to make this challenge succeed, and whereas I’m good at my precise job, I’m NOT good at unstructured/unfamiliar social conditions, particularly these which can be loud and busy. Any recommendation could be appreciated!

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