Need to get a job? Worried about keeping the one you have?
People with TS share these concerns with everyone else in the workplace, but for their own special reasons. Although some people do suffer muscle pains, hoarseness or even injuries due to tics, TS is rarely “disabling” in the usual sense of the word. More often, it’s social attitudes about physical and vocal tics that make trouble, and work is one place this trouble tends to boil over.
Most employers still find accepting and accommodating wheelchair users and people with hearing impairments easier than understanding TS. Too many still think tics are “bad habits,” symptoms of nervousness, or deliberate behavior. The idiotic and insulting images of people with TS presented in the media don’t help. This means that your first hurdle is educating employers and coworkers.
Luckily, people with TS tend to have a couple of very positive attributes that can help: a sharp mind and a sense of humor. These will prove to be your most useful weapons in typical job-hunting and work situations.
If you’re in search of a job, finding a sympathetic employer can be as important as finding the right salary. Do your research before applying—it’s better to have a good fit from the start than to find yourself in an uncomfortable spot. Does the company have a written commitment to diversity on the workplace, including disability? If problems occur later, you’ll have a policy to refer to. Do its current employees find it a good place to work? If so, it’s likely that good management is in place instead of management through coercion or bullying. No one thrives in a bad workplace, but people whose tics kick off in a tense, up-tight atmosphere can find themselves stuck in an ever-narrowing cycle of increased symptoms and increased on-the-job problems. It’s better to just avoid it.