To Declare or Not to Declare a Disability

Joshua, the subject of many blog posts, and driving force behind the building of the Orange Effect Foundation, applied for an internship for next summer. I’m super excited about it, although I think the position is for college students and he is only in high school – but still, take a shot, right?

During the application process Joshua had to do several things including write a poem – pictured above. He came to a question that asked if he had a disability. Without any hesitation at all he clicked yes and filled in the blank that he was autistic. He thought nothing of it. Maybe because our family has been so vocal about it and friends and loved ones have always been so supportive.  

The answer however, caused a great deal of discussion between my husband and myself. Should he have acknowledged this? Will it help or hurt his application? We know that companies can’t discriminate but still, the stereotypes and stigmas exist.  

As the discussion continued on we realized that our issue might not be with the fact that Joshua was honest and open, but with the word itself… DISABILITY. It just carries such a negative connotation. By definition (Oxford Dictionary) the word actually means “a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.” Well, Joshua isn’t limited. Quirky maybe…socially catching up with others his age…but limited? Definitely not.

So what do you think? When our children get their driver’s license or apply for jobs and college should they list their “disability?”  

Pam is the Executive Director of the Orange Effect Foundation. She worked in the marketing field for the past 10 years, serving as Chief Operations Officer for Content Marketing Institute. During that time she found her passion to build and lead amazing teams because of the commitment of the staff at CMI. Pam also helped to create Content Marketing World, an event where over 3500 marketers come together annually to learn and network with the best and brightest. Pam's background is in social work, and she is raising a son with autism so the opportunity to start and direct this nonprofit is a dream come true. She has been a key leader in the CMI Golf for Autism the past 11 years and a champion for many other nonprofit organizations.