I’ve been granted only a few job interviews. Even then, the usual outcome was, “We will call you.” Because I’m on the autism spectrum, I have a very limited view of the social world. In this case, I expect them to really call me...
Job-matching is a delicate art, made more so when exceptionalities enter the picture. Jobseekers with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism struggle with the employment process, even when they have the required skills and qualifications. But once their abilities are matched to the right job, great things happen – not just for the person with autism, but also for the company and the organization.
Randy Motoomull, a clerk employed for over two years now, is one of many who successfully found ways to contribute to society. His story encapsulates some of the struggles and victories as we move towards a healthier, more inclusive Philippines.
As a Person with Autism (PWA), what were the challenges you experienced in applying for a job?
As someone on the autism spectrum, the main problem I face when applying for a job is convincing the company to grant me an interview. I’ve tried to apply to different companies for years, but I’ve been granted only a few job interviews. Even then, the usual outcome was, “We will call you.” Because I’m on the autism spectrum, I have a very limited view of the social world. In this case, I expect them to really call me, only to realize that it is probably just a nice way of saying that I’m not the guy for their company.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Even if I play the cards right, that is, I answered the job interview well in theory, I know that I may never be able to get a job because I’m somehow different. I have autism, even if on the outside, it isn’t obvious since I can talk and am a college graduate. So instead of totally depending on myself, I decided to ask for help. I decided to enroll in the Job-Readiness Program (JRP) offered by Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) so that I can eventually work in a company.
I had sort of a job in University of Santo Tomas (UST) because of ILLC. UST just gave me free lunch and eventually decided that my time there is over. Fortunately, Unilab Foundation (ULF) discovered me. Through them, I was able to work in United Laboratories (Unilab) and eventually in Univet Nutrition and Animal Healthcare Company (UNAHCO). Both companies gave me a proper salary.
Some people say Persons with Disabilities should hide their conditions to have better chances of getting employed. What can you say about this?
People with disabilities should be ourselves, because other people in the workplace will eventually learn who we really are, anyway. Also, if we show our true colors, it gives the impression to other people that we are frank and honest. It hasn’t happened here in the Philippines yet, but in the United States for example, a sizable number of companies want to hire people with developmental conditions like autism. Those companies know that we have specific qualities that give us an edge over neurotypical people.
What adjustments did you have to make/are you making to perform well in your new job?
Since it’s more natural for me to be more comfortable with my job than with other people, I just do my job even during morning and afternoon breaks. Also, I use my preference for predictability to be more efficient in finding a way to do my job right, and I stick to it so that I’ll be able to do my job really well.
What do you love most about your job now?
I like tasks that involve arranging, whether files or receipts, since I like doing those things. So far, I’m not given jobs that involve convincing or selling to other people since even up to now, my skill in that area is very limited.
A lot of people get surprised when they learn of people with developmental conditions (such as autism, Down syndrome, ADHD) who get hired. You are not only employed, but have been employed for more than two years now. What can you say about this?
It’s possible for people like me to get and keep our jobs, if we have the right skills for them. Take the case one of the people working in Unilab Foundation. I won’t mention his name, but he’s also on the autism spectrum. That guy sorts documents faster than his coworkers, and he’s a regular worker there.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Depending on how many kinds of tasks I am performing in the company, if I performed many kinds of tasks and I performed them well, I see myself being regularized by the company at the very least, if not being promoted to a supervisory post. If I’ll indeed become a supervisor, I’ll really be in a good position to convince the company to hire more people like me in the workplace.
What is your message to other PWAs or PWDs in general, who are facing challenges in finding jobs? How will you encourage and inspire them?
Just don’t lose hope. Honestly, I’ve spent years trying to get a job. Until Unilab Foundation found me, I thought I would never be able to realy work in a company, but now I am working in company. My experience shows that indeed there is really hope.
Ronald Alexander “Randy” Motumooll, 31, is a graduate of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. He loves surfing the net, watching TV, and going to the mall. He is a General Clerk in UNAHCO, and a proof of the contribution Persons with Autism can make in the workplace.