In an ideal world, it would be easy to get help from your boss or employer. But in the real world, that might not always happen.
Let’s say you ask your boss for a quiet work space so you can focus better. You make clear that you’re asking because you want to do your job well.
Maybe your boss isn’t willing to help. Maybe they can’t — or think they can’t. Or maybe you don’t have a relationship where you feel comfortable asking. What then?
You have a few options:
Bypass your boss
If you need an accommodation for a disability, you may be able to bypass your boss and reach out directly to human resources (HR). You can learn about your employer’s accommodations policy by asking the HR department or by looking on your company’s intranet, if they have one.
It may be possible to start the accommodations process yourself by filling out a form. Some companies will require that you disclose a disability and provide medical documentation to get an accommodation.
Talk with a co-worker
Another option is to ask for advice from a co-worker you trust. You may be able to get suggestions for how to manage a specific issue. You might get a fresh take on your boss. You can ask how the co-worker has gotten your boss’s support in the past.
Connect with a diversity group at work
See whether your company has an employee resource group (ERG) organized around disability or neurodiversity. ERGs are volunteer-led groups focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Connecting with your ERG may give you ideas for advocacy, resources, and networking.
Think about other work options
If the issue isn’t urgent, you can try to build trust with your boss. Over time, your boss may become more open and flexible. If not, you may want to consider whether you want to work with this person or in this environment — and what your options are. Even if you have formal accommodations, having your manager’s support is important.
Having a disability and not getting support from your boss is more than frustrating. It can impact your performance. Being able to talk about challenges and solutions with your boss, HR department, and co-workers lets you get the help you need to do your best work. Learn more about:
About the author
About the author
Molly Touger is a writer and instructional designer based in Brooklyn, New York.
James Emmett, MS is the lead workplace strategist for Understood, supporting our efforts to create more inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities.