Saturday, September 5, 2009

On the More Subtle Forms of Discrimination

Ever since I completed my last practicum, I've been job-hunting. Not only do I need income, but I need additional supervision time before I can sit the BCABA exam.

I've done the full coursework for the BCBA exam, but I need to get a Master's before I can sit that one. The need for additional supervision is just part of that.

Anyway, that last part means that I need to find employment in a fairly narrow field. I'm not particularly picky about the broader type of program I'll work in, but I am picky about ethics. Frankly, I believe that the code of professional conduct that the BACB enforces is absurdly insufficient (and insufficiently enforced, but that's another matter). I've already had to throw out several of the opportunities that I've found because of this. I categorically refuse to implement a program that involves restraint or seclusion, for instance.

One of the big obstacles towards me finding work in the field, however, is that I don't know who's hiring. Online listings haven't been much help here, either.

Normally, social networking strategies make finding a job -- or at least finding who's hiring -- under such circumstances fairly easy. I am spectacularly bad at them... and saying so is a massive understatement.

In as far as this is inseparable from the fact that I am autistic (let's not go into the chicken-and-egg mess that a discussion of causal attribution here would get into), this problem could be viewed as the result of a form of statistical discrimination. Personally, I just view it as an annoyance and another one of life's many challenges.

Another example of this sort of thing that I've run across has been in the realm of employment applications. Since college, I've accumulated what I like to think is a pretty good collection of professional references. My academic references aren't bad, either.

However... due to their nature (i.e. most of them are people I've worked with), I'm S.O.L. when a potential employer asks for non-family, non-professional references. Sure, I know people outside of work and family, but there aren't exactly that many who I would feel comfortable with asking something like that. It's a real dilemma, and not an easy one to solve (especially since I did two practicum semesters at my postgrad university, meaning that I've worked with most of my professors).

And to think that this is supposed to be the easier set of references to get.

What's worse is that I know exactly why they want that sort of reference. It's hard to be upset with them for that.

That doesn't change the fact that it can easily be a major barrier to employment for an autistic individual.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely written. My husband had the same problem job searching as he chooses not to have a social life outside of family and work itself.

    He is painfully shy.

    Best of luck Alex!! I know you are going to do wonderfully!