Tag Archives: Autism in the Workplace

Autistic Confessions – I Can’t Follow (Spoken) Directions

I can’t follow verbal instructions – unless you give me each item one step at a time.

Spoken words are often misheard due to sensory issues so it is easy for me to misunderstand verbal directions.

If you start to give me a list of things to do and I can’t find a notepad I may start to panic.

If we are out in public and you tell me I need to remember to do something later – it probably won’t happen.

My working memory is not great and I have to make checklists and keep a calendar to stay organized.

If I am trying to hold information in my brain (by saying the thing over and over again in my head) and someone interrupts me mid task the information is lost forever – even if it’s something simple like a first and last name.

Typed or written instructions are best for me, this allows me time to translate the task into my own way of thinking – which is primarily visual.

Also, because I tend to take things very literally, this allows me time to question if my assumptions about the instructions make since – preventing embarrassing mistakes.

Please don’t tell me what you need me to do – unless you know I’m ready to write things down. I hate letting people down but I REALLY can’t follow spoken directions



Life with Asperger’s: Employment – OriginalRetrophiliac

Being in the modern work place makes me feel like a fish out of water. Florescent light bulbs, humming air conditioners on the roof above my desk, constant ringing of phones, and people randomly interrupting my work to ask me questions.

Networking events and social expectations. Corporate culture an professionalism are minefields that I have to work thorough everyday with great effort.  By the time I get home I am so worn out that I can barely think straight.

Starting a new job is always the hardest because I have to learn a new routine. I definitely prefer to have the same days off and same schedule every week because I have chronic insomnia and sleeping at the same time every day is the best medicine for this particular problem.

Having a full time job is hard but so is being unemployed although most days when I go to the office I feel as if I am just “getting by” in life – surviving.

Its funny because I actually REALLY love my job but the sensory and social aspects of it kill me sometimes.

I just came across the OriginalRetrophiliac channel on YouTube and look forward to following for more great content.

Finding Out About My Autism as an Adult

When you find out you are Autistic as an adult your world is suddenly completely different but still exactly the same.

My entire life I’ve felt out of step with the world. I am awkward, clumsy, often confused, but at the same time I can be shockingly clever – probably why my Aspie nature went undetected for so long.

Once you learn and begin to see yourself and the world from the enlightened perspective of Autism you can no longer return to pretending you might be “just like everybody else.” It is a shocking and undeniable truth that strikes you in the face like a cold hard fist.

Finding out you are Autistic as an adult feels so final. Before there was more hope that I may someday outgrow some of my more eccentric traits. Now I am more aware of my unique (or not so unique) habits and needs than ever. They are inescapable.

People who knew me before discovering my Autism still see me as the same person that I’ve always been. Most of them can’t believe I’m an Aspie and are questioning and skeptical – which literally leaves me speechless and unable to explain myself.

The people who know me the best hear me out and many actually seem to find the answers to their own unanswered questions in my explanations.

I literally cannot handle confrontations with anyone. They leave me speechless. If I do not get away panic sets in, I become unable to think and may lash out verbally or cry. It is childish and shameful so I run. These are the nightmares that I may never outgrow.

Autism is so – final. When you search for Autism resources online almost every result is focused on children, but Autism is a lifelong “condition”. Autistic children grow up to become Autistic adults – so here I am finding out about my Autism as an Adult.



What Does Autism Feel Like?

I was having a deep conversation (via Google Hangouts instant messenger) with a close friend about my Autism. He made a comment that he did not see Autism as a disability, but more as an alternate way of thinking that is not serviced very wall by the modern education system. I agree – partially. . .

Quickly I realized that no matter how hard I tried, there was no way I could accurately explain or convey the parts of my Autism that truly “disable” me. Searching the internet, I quickly found a few articles with other Aspie who had attempted to explain what I currently could not – the negative things that NT’s have a hard time comprehending.

“What does Autism feel like?” In that moment I was completely unable to explain.

The most disabling part of Autism (for me) may be its invisibility and my status as “high functioning”. Everyone expects me to do ok. I am smart, and use my ability to pick up on patterns to get ahead in the world. I am one of those “gifted” Aspies so my Autism must be a gift right?

My good days are amazing but on my worst days my sensory overload wont let me out of bed. Currently I am averaging about three really bad days a month. They hit at random stop my world in its tracks.

People can’t tell when I am having sensory problems. Some days are worse than others and most days I am in at least mild pain at all times. The lights hurt my eyes and head, smells make me gag, small sounds nag at me constantly, I walk into walls, trip over things, and sometimes miss my mouth when I eat.

I miss many things in most conversations. I am awkward, weird, and my intentions are often misunderstood. If someone is not smiling or looking pissed off I can’t read them – unless I know them very well. Normally I have NO clue when I’ve offended someone.

Autism feels like I am out of sync with the world and its people. I am alone in a lot of ways, that may sound sad but honestly I am happiest when I am alone with my own thoughts.

Below are some of the items I found while researching how to better explain Sensory Overload.

 I can take NO credit for anything below.

My visual experience is also rather radical. Bright light can be painful — honestly, any light can be painful and I often compensate with sunglasses. I can also get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of imagery that my mind is attempting to process at one time. I take in everything in a panoramic sense — and that sometimes makes it hard for me to focus on the central thing I’m supposed to see. I’ve found that wearing a ball cap helps me filter, by force, that which is crashing in by flood — it works in the same sense that “horse blinders” do at the race track.

Lori Sealy of The Mighty shares – My Answer to the Question ‘What Does Autism Feel Like?’ talking about her sensory processing difficulties.

One Guy’s Opinion: What it feels like to have autism as an adult by by

In general…

  • Before you know you have it, you simply assume that you have an odd personality.
  • After you find out that other people are in the same situation as you, you realize that you are in fact quite a normal autistic, and that many of your quirks are symptoms.

Social experience…

  • You have some trouble taking hints, but only figure this out very late, or when other people tell you. It takes you very long to learn how to pick up in hints, and you never learn pick up on all of them.
  • You sense that other people place more importance on how they are feeling. It affects their judgement, and things that are not based on logic and facts may come off as unreasonable or immature to you.
  • You notice that people spend more time on small talk and polite phrases than you, but you don’t like it, as it don’t really convey useful information. You may have trouble initiating conversations with strangers because you lack skills in this area.. .

Check out full article here.

Video Simulations to Help You Experience Sensory Overload


Carly’s Café – Experience Autism Through Carly’s Eyes

Carly Fleischmann is a nonverbal Autism advocate and YouTube talk show host. She is AMAZING. I strongly recommend you check her out.

Video HERE.

What it’s like to walk down a street when you have autism or an ASD

More great videos on Craig Thomson‘s YouTube channel.

Video HERE.

Autism: Sensory Overload Simulation

Check out the streamofawareness YouTube channel for more.

Video HERE.

Sensory Overload Simulation

More from WeirdGirlCyndi on YouTube.

Video HERE.

Staying Anonymously Autistic – Tip 5 (Don’t Have Meltdowns in Public)

Nothing gets the attention of the room quite like an adult lying on the floor curled in a ball crying. If you truly want to be Anonymously Autistic it is extremely important to keep your meltdowns to yourself.

Meltdowns happen, I get it but most neurotypicals don’t. They’ve never felt the panic and pain of a meltdown and do not have the ability to truly understand what we are going through.

It is important to stay well rested and learn to spot signs that a meltdown is becoming imminent. I always try to have an exist strategy when I go somewhere even if it’s just a bathroom, to my own car, or for a walk.

When I have a meltdown being around other people is the last thing I want anyway. Its easier for me to recover if I am left alone. People look at you helpless, desperate to make you feel better, not knowing the best help they can give is to leave you alone.

Aspie Tip # 5 – No Public Meltdowns

Staying Anonymously Autistic – Tip 4 (Smell Nice)

If you are planning to see anyone or go our in public make sure you smell plesant. Check your hair, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, and get fresh before you leave the house (or have people over). Nothing screams “mental illness” like failure to care for oneself. Sad but true – if you don’t do these things people will wonder what is wrong with you.

Even if you have to wash your armpits with a washcloth in the sink and use dry shampoo, something quick – do it. Smelling nice is essential to blending in.

Just like Aspies notice humming light bulbs and distracting sounds in rooms – neurotically people notice body odor (and bad breath).

I like to wear natural food scented perfumes. Smelling something plesant is calming to me AND helps me to smell extra fresh.

Aspie Tip #4 – Smell good if you don’t want to stand out. 

*random note – unfortunately that is NOT my bathroom. 🙂

Aspies – We Need to Toughen Up

I’ve been fairly successful in life because I push myself. I don’t have a big house, fancy car, or name brand things, but our modest home and practical vehicles serve us just fine. We life day to day, paycheck to paycheck, but life is good. We have what we need.

Every day I push myself to my limits – as I write this blog I am struggling through sensory overload just trying to get words out.

When I’ve gone too long without refreshing my batteries I sometimes get sensory overload. Many people now understand that sensory overload is something that many Aspies struggle with, but my sensory overload is a bit different.

All of my senses seem to connect to two parts of my body – my head and my stomach. Most of the time when I am worn down I will get a “headache”. Naps or long hot baths are often an excellent cure when all of my characteristic Aspie anxiety ends up in my head. I can (and do) push past a headache for a few hours if I need to get through my work day, although if I go too long I might cry.

Headaches are horrible but when everything shifts to my stomach I am crippled. every sound, smell, or movement, makes me gag. Sometimes all I cam do is like in bed in a quiet room but not today.

Today I am fighting the swirling nausea. I am choking down the urge to vomit. I’ve got work in five minutes and I’ve got a life to get to. My job lets me work from home fairly often, so on days like this – when I wonder how many hours of my life have been spent with my head in a toilet – are my own little secret. Never let them see you sweat.

Toughen up Aspies – the world doesn’t understand us yet, so we have to fight to fit in.  I am sick but I am pushing myself as hard as I can.

Staying Anonymously Autistic – Tip 3 (Get Dressed)

Even if you have no plans of leaving the house or seeing anyone – still take the time to get dressed. Enjoy your morning routine. Participate in it with mindfulness. Take your time getting ready and enjoy your tasks.

Style your hair, put on your favorite shirt, do your makeup, splash on your favorite scent – do anything you would do before you normally leave the house. Be ready for anything. If you are prepared to start the day, even if it is a day spent at home, you will have more confidence in unexpected situations that may arise.

Aspie tip # 3 – Be ready for anything. Being prepared bring confidence. 

I’m Not Built For City Life

I hate the city. I don’t like the noise, the smell, the large concentration of strangers.

I’m a numbers person. I like facts and statistics. Numbers don’t lie.

Violent crimes happen more often in a big city – rape, burglary, and random acts of violence. We don’t have those where I could from.

All that and still I find myself here sitting in the 8th floor parking garage downtown almost an hour before my shift starts. Why? Because letting myself be defeated is not an option. I can make it through a day in hell – one step at a time.

I left the house at 5:30a.m. this morning in order to make my 6:30 a.m. shift start time.

Perhaps the worst thing about the city is the traffic. A drive that should take 20 minutes can take an hour and a half depending on when you leave and the time of day.

Being late gives me anxiety so I arrive at least a half hour early to anything important. Back home I don’t have to worry about traffic, but migrating into the city for work bring unpredictable traffic patterns.

My supersonic hearing is overwhelmed while walking on the city streets. The noise of birds the perfume of flowers washed away by the sounds of car horns and smells of human waste.

Homeless people ask for money as I walk  from the parking garage to the convention center, some forcefully. I’ve heard on the news people were attacked for not giving. I don’t carry cash.

“Please don’t ask me” I say to myself. I can’t read their faces or decipher their intent. It is almost impossible for me to read strangers. Is this person dangerous? I have no idea.

As a child I had no fear of strangers. I would wander right up to them and star talking at them – monologue style. Spouting off information about my favorite hobbies.

The older I get, the more I am aware of my impairments. This has sparked a fear in me that was not there before. I’ve always been an anxious person, but when I was younger I couldn’t see danger – so I did not know it was there.

Now I know that I cannot always see or hear danger – and that in itself is terrifying.

I get lost in the little details, and being alert in the city demands that you be aware of busy surroundings. It is hard for me to not get draw into one little piece of my surroundings.

My shift goes well but my batteries are running low. Back to the parking garage I race not sure how much more of the “real world” I can handle.

Darkness is just sinking in as I get into my car. Driving during rush hour traffic is difficult. I have a hard time with depth perception / judging distance. Driving at night is terrifying because I can barely see the road.

My mother always pointed out that there was something wrong with the way I interpenetrated distance (probably because I walked into a lot of walls and doorways as a kid). It wasn’t until learning about being an Aspie that I began to understand how badly I am affected by this issue.

Unfortunately I am just not built for city life.

Autism: It is not a disability, it is extreme sensitivity to your surroundings — Yoshiko

I read a lot. Today while reading blogs from my news feed, I  came across this very great perspective. Please check-out the original blogger for full post.

Autism: ‘It is not a disability, it is extreme sensitivity to your surroundings’ enables me to understand myself better. The reason I feel and the meltdown I go through. My business mentor’s advise rings true. Since I can’t concentrate to do my work at home, it is better for me to work outside. However, I […]

via Autism: It is not a disability, it is extreme sensitivity to your surroundings — Yoshiko