’I was told to ‘man up’ in an interview’

Rohit Doel is a freelance runner who has worked on the likes of Supermarket Sweep and short film Pas De Deux

When I go into interviews with employers, I let them know that I’m autistic straight off and explain that’s why I do stimming, which is self-stimulatory behaviour. It could be hand-flapping or head-bopping, and sometimes I jump up and down when I get really excited.


Rohit Doel

People can give me cold stares, like, “what’s this guy doing?” It just makes me feel on edge.

It can be hard for me to maintain eye contact with interviewers and sometimes I take longer than others to process information and give an answer.

“Once in an interview, I spoke about my mental health and was told to be stronger; to man up. Can you imagine that?”

Luckily, now people are finally starting to talk about autism. I had a role at Fremantle where my employer was really understanding and made accommodations: they gave me 10- or 15-minute breaks every few hours and allowed me a fidget toy, which helps regulate my emotions. Being supported was a surreal, lovely experience.

But I’ve had negative experiences too. I have been labelled rude, lazy, ignorant and odd, and once in an interview I spoke about my mental health and was told to be stronger; to man up. Can you imagine that?

I need to be accommodated and to be understood. It helps to have things repeated to me, and in general there needs to be more disability training so people learn about the value of quiet rooms, for example, which autistic people can use if they need a break or are having a meltdown or shutdown.

I’ve not let my autism deter me from applying for things. I’ve been on the Edinburgh TV Festival’s The Network programme and I feel like I’m progressing in my career, but it’s just getting over that final hurdle. I’ve been mentored by [producer] Abby Kumar and she’s been amazing, a real stepping stone in my development. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.

I’ve just finished a small music video project and I have some interviews coming up. Hopefully, I can talk to them more about my ambitions: I want to progress from being a runner to a junior researcher, and then go into development for a few years and come up with some great things. I love the idea of creating something big from a small idea.

There are a lot of shows that are about autism and disability, but not a lot of disabled and autistic writers, or people behind the scenes, and that needs to change. Ultimately, I’d like to produce my own documentaries or factual entertainment formats, or work on a superhero movie. That’s the big dream.