Should I tell new aquaintances/colleagues of my condition

As a slowly progressive condition, I seem to adapt and reinvent different ways of accomplishing the same goal. To those close to us, they have witnessed and grown along with the subtle changes and adaptations.

Now enter in a complete stranger which you need to work closely with. For all ordinary purpose I appear fine. 50, male, some say good looking and well kept. (i.e. No apparent outward signs of cerebellar ataxia or they become acceptable/excusable to the observer due to apparent 'looks' and prior successes and often a casual excuse offered by me.)

Since diagnosed in 1999, I was able to hide all, inability to run, stairs without forgetting to raise my foot, talking too loud or too slow, etc..

In '08 I was continuously called into the front office at my place of employment and asked for drug and alcohol testing. Always negative. I received an OSHA recordable injury at a later date and was let go as a salaried employee.

I took a new position and was let go for failure to advise of an existing condition.

The question still remains, should you disclose or not? Friends, Yes....Others? It seems within company 'water cooler' talk the gossip perpetuates. Obvious would be a wheelchair or cane, I am not quite there yet. Advise welcomed. S

Unless your condition directly affects your ability to do your job or there is some outward sign like tremors, I'd say you have no obligation to disclose to your workmates. Even with tremors, IMO it's sufficient to say you just have a neurological condition causing them, and leave it at that. That's all I tell my students, just so they don't think I'm up to no good. Depending on how approachable your boss is, I'd consider telling them so that if you have any issues, even with something else later, they can't use the CA as an 'excuse' to get rid of you, ie you didn't disclose something materially affecting the employment relationship. They're bound by confidentiality so it shouldn't go any further than them.

Hope this is of some help!!


I let people that I work with know for two reasons (that come to mind) - so they don't misunderstand things (think I'm drunk because of my speech!) and also in case there is a fire alarm or other event where the building is evac'ed without the elevators (since I am slower on stairs than most). I make it very clear that it doesn't affect work at all - since I am doing network administration I am sitting down most of the day.

I sound like you. I am still very much in the "regular" world. But I did take early retirement beause I have problems with turning and stress and I find speaking quite tiring. As to your question: I would tell my boss, in theory, but make it seem as beside the point, as possible. In other words dont use words like "traechestomy"; "feeding tube" or "wheelchair". Make it sound more ordinary and if you have to quit, say it just took a turn for the worse. In fact, CA can be unpredictable so it's hardly an untruth. N

Why not? Are you ashamed?

My immediate reaction is play it by ear. Basically I feel I have to be honest with myself,

it causes too much stress otherwise, and we all know where we end up then! Living a

lie can be very tiring, and the amount of disclosure can vary according to situation.

This is an easy decision for me because of my age, and probably regarded as retired

anyway. But for a younger person/someone who really needs to hang on to their job,

I can well understand the reluctance to declare themselves. xB

I was reading some articles. Perhaps either of these would be helpful:

I am 55 and fit and healthy looking, I am on disability. I used to manage a fitness center. I still manage to get to the gym daily but do things where I can hang on, like the elliptical. I find it easier to come clean about my condition. I hid it for a long time but now I look like a drunk! I think it creates less stress for me and forces me to accept help from others.

Hi, if an employer has asked about medical conditions on your application form or contract then you would be open to immediate dismissal if you did not declare. Sounds harsh but unfortunately the case in UK. You only need to disclose to the HR personnel and the information should be confidential. Getting past the first application stage is the hard part. On the application form you could put that it doesn't affect your ability etc.......GOOD LUCK!! :)

By the way, I think it's against the law (in the USA, not sure about UK) to discriminate against incapacitated people so if you are qualified,and your disability is merely cosmetic or not job related, then your disability cannot be a reason to fire you. Thus, you don't have to lie or be fearful.

I retired from my job of 28 years as a social worker 7 years ago due to my progressive ataxia. I was diagnosed 10 years ago, although I had very small symptoms several years before being diagnosed. I continued to work for for a few years after I was diagnosed, therefore my supervisor and fellow employees knew of my condition. My speech became quite slurred as the day went on, due to stress/fatigue. Plus my balance was compromised and I didn't want anyone to assume I was three sheets to the wind (drunk). Obviously, it's a personal choice, but I choose to reveal my condition. Rather than say I had ataxia (and have to do a lot of explaining, as most people have never heard of it), I would just say I had a neuro-muscular condition. I never had a problem doing my job, until I could no longer do it for a number of factors, all related to ataxia. My best to you...,;o)

I usually just say I have problem with my balance due to brain condition. If they are interested, I explain what ataxia is but most people don't really want to know.

I resigned from work as word processing secretary in London Accountancy firm to work in my husbands business [more word processing] and then retired at 60 so I haven't had need to explain to employers, thankfully.

Stay safe, Patsy x