Tag Archives: work

Autistic Confessions – In Hiding

I’ve been in hiding. Desperately trying to conserve the energy that I have left at the end of the work day. Being in an offices is extremely hard, despite having kind coworkers. At the end of the day my head is pounding and my energy is drained, leaving little left for more pleasant things.

Hidden away from the world, I turn down almost every invitation. Navigating the social aspects of my workplace leaves my social mussels overworked. I’ve push almost everyone away because I literally can not handle anyone or anything extra at the moment.

I’ve stopped checking my personal email. There are so many emails and so much information being shared at work. I get to the point where I just need all input to stop. My brain has become bogged down and slow, as I try to process my days when I get home.

My brain is like a sponge, it sucks up everything until it is drowning and oozing. Covered and dripping with too much information this most important organ can no longer function, so I shut it off, preventing meltdowns.

This is burnout, this is me in self preservation mode. I am holding on but some days I am barely here. I try very hard to always stay positive because I know sinking into a depressing would be the worst thing for me at this point.

In the meantime it’s many solitary walks in the woods, counting my breaths, less commitments, and as much creative down time as possible.

That is why I have gone into hiding, reclusive, in quiet stillness. I’ve got to take care of myself, there is nobody to do it for me.

 

Don’t Domesticate Me

I don’t want to be domesticated.

Chained to a home and a mortgage.

Having a job is a necessary evil,

although I am painfully aware

many WISH for the chance to work.

The endless cycle.

Work.

Work to pay for the house.

Work to pay for the things.

The house you cant enjoy

and the tings you don’t really need.

Spend all your time working.

Living just to work.

Careers don’t suit me.

I walk to my own beat.

Walking alone, quiet, with nature.

Walking for hours by the stream.

Someplace comfortable and calm

Maybe one day there will be time.

When I no longer have to work.

Autistic Confessions – Email Anxiety

To my beloved readers, I feel I must confess something that a few of you may have noticed – I have email anxiety and I haven’t checked my email in weeks.

With work emails it is almost easier because I have to answer them or there will be a consequence but sometimes I open my personal in-box, see more than 2 or 3 emails and immediately close the browser because “I just can’t.”

It seems like a huge task, one that requires focus.

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed just trying to figure out where to start that I cant. Then I have guilt. Guilt for not responding to my readers and friends in a timely fashion. In addition to the guilt there is the nagging that something in one of those emails might be important.

After a few hours, or a day or two, the shock wears off and I log back in to read an email or two (no guarantee if I will respond unless something is urgent). Most of the time I will shoot back a quick response if I open a short email but sometimes a long email will send me back to the little gray “X” on the top right of my screen.

At that time the entire cycle starts over. Some days I may only respond to one email – or none at all. It’s like I’m waiting for the perfect circumstances to arise so I can read and respond to email – but very rarely does my mind cooperate.

The worst part is I realize it would be better if I just forced myself to get them out of the way – so I can stop obsessing over my unread emails. Maybe I should go check my email.

 

#ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #InvisibleAutism #OCD

 

Casting Call for Employable Me – American Documentary

This week I found an email from Liz Alderman, casting director for the documentary series “Employable Me“, looking for candidates for an American based documentary. Obviously, due to my anonymous status, I will not be appearing on TV any time soon.

However, this issue is one that is near and dear to my heart. Too many Autistic people who want to work are unemployed/underemployed. I hope this show will bring light to why companies SHOULD hire Autistic people.

Please contact Liz if you are interested and SHARE if you know someone who might be.

Employable Me SHOW GRAPHICS

ENGLAND’S CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED DOCUMENTARY TELEVISION SERIES “EMPLOYABLE ME” IS COMING TO AMERICA!

CASTING DIRECTORS ARE SEEKING PEOPLE WITH NEURO-DIVERSE CONDITIONS OR DISABILITIES WHO HAVE STRUGGLED TO FIND LONG TERM EMPLOYMENT WHO WOULD LIKE ASSISTANCE IN THEIR SEARCH FOR WORK.

Optomen Productions is looking for people with neuro-diverse conditions and disabilities who would like our assistance finding employment, and who are willing to share their job search journey with the American television viewing audience by being a part of our critically acclaimed documentary television series, EMPLOYABLE ME.

EMPLOYABLE ME seeks to prove that having a neurological condition or disability should be viewed as an ASSET rather than an obstacle in the workplace.

High profile, aspirational companies and brands are beginning to discover the benefits of recruiting from the ranks of the disabled and those whose “brains are wired differently.”

What if your “disabilities” turned out to be a strength?  What if your condition actually gave you skills that were a virtue rather than a hindrance?  What if they turned out to be invaluable qualities that put you AHEAD of rival candidates?

We all deserve a role in society and the opportunity to pay our way. The job-seekers selected to appear on our documentary series will be encouraged to unlock their hidden talents with the help of experts and specialists so they can at long last find the job that best suits their unique skill sets and strengths.

That’s what this show is about: the struggle to belong and play your part. The disabled just need a chance for people to see what they can do, rather than concentrating on what they can’t.

 

Take a look at these inspiring highlights from our hit series to date:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0755nyq/clips

 

And view a full episode of our courageous series here:

https://vimeo.com/162540081

PASSWORD: job123

The bottom line is, a diverse workforce can be great for a business and this series wants to dramatically shake up the system to prove it.

Please pass this casting call along!  Television producers and casting directors like myself rely heavily on personal recommendations and word-of-mouth referrals to find interested and qualified people.  We appreciate your help!

Contact Liz.Alderman@OptomenUSA.com for more information on how to be considered for this opportunity. 

Optomen Productions produces hundreds of hours of television each year for many of the major cable and broadcast networks including Food Network, Travel Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery and Bravo.  Our most successful series include Worst Cooks in America and Mysteries at the Museum.  Visit http://www.optomenproductions.com/ for more information about our company.

I’m at War With Myself – Parts of My Autism People Can’t See

Sometimes I feel as if I am constantly in a battle with myself. Fighting against irrational thoughts in my mind, and unpleasant sensations in my body.

Constant nagging in my mind – “You might have left the door unlocked.” When I know very well the door should be locked. “You forgot to water the dog.” Despite leaving them with a full bowl.

Social anxiety tells me I’m not good enough and I have to remind myself that I only feel that way when hanging around the wrong people or large groups.

It’s like my adrenal gland is extra jumpy. I feel the surge of chemicals flowing through my body, making my heart and mind race. It used to cause panic attacks, but now it happens so often that I’ve learned to recognize the feeling and breathe through it. The sensation is unpleasant and can also lead to sensory overload or meltdown if I don’t relax – so I ALWAYS relax.

My brain tells me the lights are too bright, so I squint all day until I have a headache and my head is throbbing. I can’t tune out the buzzing light bulbs and humming electronic noises coming from the walls – so I often wear headphones with soothing music.

I get dizzy when I stretch my arms high over my head – probably not related to Autism but really annoying because I am short. Just throwing it out there because my readers always surprise me with what we have in common.

The air outside is almost always either too hot or too cold because I cannot regulate body temperature well. I am only comfortable between about 75-90 degrees anything over or under that is really pushing it.

People’s voices stick better in my head then their faces. I often have a VERY hard time recognizing people especially out of context. It’s called face blindness and it can be a pain, especially in a corporate environment.

When I do socialize I prefer to stick to people I know, because I can’t read the faces of strangers unless someone laughing, crying, or making some other extremely obvious face. I study people I know so I can learn their faces better but still this takes a LOT of work on my part.

Sometimes I come off as rude. My body language and tone don’t always come out the way I want them to. Misunderstandings are a way of life for me. I’m used to this now and often don’t even bother trying to correct people because they don’t understand tone not matching feelings, etc.

I take things literally – but normally can figure things out if there are context clues.

Following spoken directions is difficult – but if you give me time to write down what you are saying so I can read it later (over and over) I can get things done. It’s not that I don’t understand, it’s that I understand in a different way.

My sort term memory is about half as good as most people. They say people can hold about 7 numbers in their working / short term memory – a phone number.  I’ve never been able to hold more than 3 numbers in my head at one time. If you say something to me when I am trying to hold those 3 numbers in my head the numbers will probably vanish.

Side note my long term memory is forever.

All of these invisible things. I am constantly battling myself, trying to fit into a world where people can’t imagine what you’re going thorough. When you try to tell them they look at you like you are crazy or dishonest – and honesty is important to me.

It hurts when you ask for help and nobody is willing to stick out their hand, so I keep these things to myself.

#ActuallyAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #InvisibleAutism

Autistic Confessions – I Just Want to Be Alone – The Stigma of Solitude

I love being alone. In fact, like most introverts, I need to be alone in order to recharge my batteries.

The difference between me and most introverts is that they still “need” or “crave” social activities and being around other people. I simply don’t and never have.

Always alone, when I was young and through my teen years (and even part of my adult-hood) people made me feel like my tendency towards solitude was pathological. I remember my parents and grandparents trying to force me to go out with friends / leave the house.

They forced e so hard, insisting that I make friends or be lonely, but I had almost no friends.

I’ve always had a pattern of only having one friend at a time and hanging out in groups has never been fun for me. Having more than one or two friends is still very difficult for me.

Your whole life people tell you you will be lonely if you don’t have friends but I feel most alone when I am around the wrong people or even worse too many people. I never feel alone when I am on my own working on something I am passionate about.

To be perfectly honest sometimes I feel more affection towards my projects than for most people. I am very task driven and calculated. People often take my seriousness for coldness. The few who know me well know me as funny and warm.

One on one interactions are great if they are with the right person.  I can even do groups of up to three people if I keep the interactions short. More people needs to equal a shorter interaction for me.

Also, I am not opposed to meaningful conversations. The minute people start talking about pop culture and other mindless garbage my mind wanders. I am off in my own head until something brings me back to reality.

Neurotypicals or “normal people” take for granted things that are a LOT of work for me. Simple things, like figuring out when it’s your turn to talk. Despite focusing almost ALL my brain power on timing in conversations STILL I manage to mess this up every time.

Even when I am having a great time being social, my brain wears down fast when I have to focus on conversations. It is real work for me. The more conversations and the more people at a gathering the faster I drain out.

I’ve heard the clever term social hangover. For me this is a very accurate description.

By the time I am done with a 2 hour hangout with 4 people I am feeling dead and drained. It takes me a full day to recover from most social interactions. Add more people or more hours and I need even more time to recharge.

I can only handle one or two of these a month or I start to have an increased frequency of indigestion and meltdowns.

When my job started having one or two social things a month I stopped hanging out with the few friends I had. The truth is now all my social energy is spent on coworkers who I don’t relate to – because I am trying my hardest to “play the game.”

I turn down as many office happy hours as I can, but still feel like I don’t attend as many as they want me to.

Social politics in the work place are hard on us Aspies but we can’t escape them. If we want to succeed in an office we have to learn the patterns and unspoken rules (I hate unspoken rules – I like CLEAR rules).

If we can’t figure out the mysteries of the office we have to make our own way somehow or risk being stuck in a career that doesn’t fulfill. We are often under paid and under appreciated in the work place because we don’t kiss ass and “play the games” that our neurotypical peers do.

Without these skills we are at a disadvantage. There is pressure to fit in.

My hyper-social coworkers who like to go out several nights a week think being out and social is normal but for me a night at home is more acceptable. I am “antisocial” a “recluse” “book worm” and “introvert”. So many titles.

Why does wanting to stay in even need a title? Why does society shun the loner? There is nothing wrong with me wanting to spend most of my time alone. If I am truly happy what is the problem?

Its time we break the stigma on solitude.

 

#ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #InvisibleAutism

Autistic Confessions – I’m Always Early

I try to make sure I arrive EARLY for everything even if that means I am sitting in my car for a half hour before I need to go inside.

Being early is good for my mental health. I have less stress when I give myself extra time for things.

Being late is bad for me. If I am late to thinks I get VERY anxious. I start to panic when I am driving so I always give myself extra time whenever I have to drive.

Some jobs are more lenient – my current one is very flexible and this helps to alleviate some of my stress. Still I have a strong desire to be early and a huge aversion to being late.

An anxiety driven monster – running from the clock.

That is why I am always early.

 

Working Full Time (Is Killing Me) – Autism at Work

Now that I know the reason for my social impairments and shortcomings, I am more accepting of my own failures.

Before I knew I was Autistic, I remember crying alone wondering why I could not just figure out the nuances of conversation. Why even when I thought I was doing everything right to have a polite conversation, people told me I still spoke out of turn and repeated myself .

The way I relate to others is somehow of-putting. I tend to ramble and turn conversations back onto myself. People think I don’t care about what they have to say but really, I’m just trying to say – “I understand.”

In fact I am also much more aware of my own failures now – this was hard on my self esteem when I was first diagnosed. Suddenly all of my flaws were illuminated, in my face, and so official.

I realized that I could not read faces, realized how much I was struggling just for timing in conversations, realized that auditory processing delays make face to face interactions stressful and overstimulating.

I was pushing myself to the point of sickness trying to keep up with the social demands of my busy work place. The things that most people find rewarding, busy events and parties, are not fun to me. I don’t want to go out and drink and I don’t feel relaxed around my coworkers.

All that fun was not in the job description and it was taking a toll on me.

Happy hours, networking events, international travel, restaurant openings, celebrities, private screenings of movies that the public can’t see yet – my job is pretty amazing.

The truth is, I rather not have all the extra perks that my job “offers”. I’ve learned that the politics are complex and if you don’t attend certain things your boss feels like you are ungrateful. I try to attend the very minimum, but even that is pushing it for me.

I am surviving in energy conservation mode. I have no social life other than the one my office creates.

I’ve stopped hanging out with my real friends because at the end of the work week I am dead. I have no energy or desire to socialize, burnt up and spent, nothing left for the people who matter most to me.

But I am living the dream right? I have my dream job and it seems to be killing me.

I need more down time than most people, and the more social I am the more down time I need. It is hard for someone running on spoons to have a full time job, but quitting is never my option.

I have gratitude for my job, because TOO many Aspies are unemployed. I am thankful every day for my very difficult and exciting job – even on the worst days.

Autistic Confessions I Had a Meltdown at Work

The woman on the phone was not listening. I had called her for help and quickly realized that she would not be able to help me.

“I told her never-mind. I’ve made a mistake. I’m going to let you go.” She kept asking questions. Every question she asked I said – “I don’t know. I don’t have any more information. I am going to let you go.”

She kept asking. I told her again – “I need to let you go. You cannot help me.” Her overly helpful insistence that I not hang up the phone was about to make me blow up.

Finally, in a harsh tone I told her – “Look – I was trying to be nice but I am hanging up now because there is NOTHING you can do for me.”

I slammed down the phone and ran quickly out of our office in a panic. My heart was beating fast and my mind was racing. Everything was a blur. I wanted to scream, cry, and hit someone. More than anything I wanted to get away and be alone.

Run. Run. Escape. Escape.

Bursting into the hallway I frantically looked both ways – I wanted to go someplace without people. The bathroom? Elevator? Emergency stairwell! 

Hyperventilating I burst into the stairwell. It was dark and quiet as most people take the elevator. I rand up and down the stairs until finally I collapsed exhausted on the bottom floor.

I sat for a moment, curled in a ball rocking. Grateful for the moment alone – I sat breathing in and listening to my breaths.

Coming back to reality, feeling much better after my tiny explosion (this was a very small meltdown), I realized that I had left my key-card in the desk as I ran out in a panic, so I exited the stairwell and took the elevator back to my floor.

Back at my desk I sat down like nothing ever happened – as if I hadn’t just had a meltdown at work.

When an Autistic person is having a meltdown they are unable to think clearly. The flight or fight response is triggered so forcing them to engage with you can actually cause more stress.

We are all unique individuals but I like to be alone during a meltdown. If I get up and run away don’t chase me – this is flight and if you corner me my brain can switch to fight. I’m on autopilot and running has become the way I protect myself (and those around me).

If I’m having a meltdown please do not touch me. My senses are whirling out of proportion and I am not thinking clearly. I may become unable to communicate other than one word answers and trying to communicate makes me feel worse – so don’t ask me explain what’s happening.

If you are in the room with an Autistic person having a meltdown – turn off the lights, get them a blanket or pillow and some space. A favorite stim toy might also be a good thing to offer.

You can stay in the room if the person you are with does not mind, but give some space and sit quietly.  Accept that they can’t control what is happening to them. Sometimes we feel the meltdown coming but other times it hits without warning.

Once started the meltdown has to run its course. Just wait, let me meltdown and don’t try to stop it. We may feel tired after a meltdown but sometimes we may feel a relief as the pressure may have been building for quite sometime.

Remember – as hard as watching a meltdown may be for you having a meltdown is horrible for an Autistic person. The pain is mental and physical. Autistic people having meltdowns are in crisis mode and our brains are lashing out at us. We don’t mean to freak out and are often embarrassed after having a meltdown.

#ActuallyAutistic

I Live By The Rules – My Own Rules (Autism and Social Rules)

I live and learn by rules.

Social situations are unnatural to me and simple social skills that “normal people” learned naturally were completely lost on me growing up. The way I learned social skills was a bit different and required a lot of trials and errors.

Every time I had a social blunder I made a rule, to try and not duplicate the same mistake again. Sometimes the rules I make are not quite perfect so I have to tweak and change them.

Below are 10 of my  own social rules:

  1. Say hi to people when they look at you.
  2. Smile at people when they look at you and look friendly. (My resting natural face is serious and can be off-putting.)
  3. If a next step is needed compliment something about the person in front of you or add a quick comment about the weather.
  4. Act friendly in public – smile and laugh when people tell jokes. (I forget that laughing on the inside doesn’t count when you have a blank flat face.)
  5. Don’t bring up your special interests unless someone else asks or is on that topic.
  6. Be careful NOT to talk too much. (I limit myself to one or two sentences at a time to give people time to talk.
  7. Wait until you hear a LONG pause before talking unless someone asked you a question. (I NEVER know when it is my tern to talk – the pauses sound like eternities and I still end up interrupting even when I don’t mean to.)
  8. If somebody turns their body away from you let them leave and don’t keep talking. (I also have a hard time ending conversations.)
  9. Let the other people talk and practice listening.
  10. Try to remember what you friends have going on in their lives. Remember to bring theses things into conversation if timing is appropriate. For example – if your friend tells you they have a sick loved one – don’t forget to ask them how that person is doing the next time you see them.