Tag Archives: work

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.

Coming Out Autistic – When You Don’t Believe

Coming out Autistic is hard. It’s even harder when the person in front of you doesn’t believe a word you are saying.

People who’ve known me for years say things like –

“Why are you complaining all of the sudden? You never used to talk about Autism or complain about these problems before. It’s like you’re happy to have a disability. You just want attention.” 

 

These people are less than half right.

Yes, people who have known me for years have never heard me complain about my sensory issues. When I was a little girl and tried to explain my problems to people nobody believed me – so I stopped.

When I was in school I was very sick. My school building’s busy environment and florescent lights were painful and made me physically sick to. The doctors told my mother that there was no physical reason for my sensory complaints and that I was making them up to get out of school.

There were no accommodations for me growing up so I spent my life sick, in pain and discomfort.

My mother told me I had to go to school or she would go to jail, not wanting to loose my mother, I sucked it up and went.

Side note – remember Aspies take things literally. Be very careful what you say to your children.

 

I suffered in silence for thirty years.

I’ve always been different, but my mother told me never to reveal your flaws – so I learned to hide my confusion and executive functioning problems from the world.

Keeping up appearances, trying to be like everyone else and holding myself to an impossible standard, was what eventually lead me to an Autistic Burnout (Autistic Regression).

Finally as my sensory symptoms intensified, after years of confusion and being told that “everything was in my head”, at the age of 30, I received a formal Autism diagnosis.

Am I happy to have a disability?

No. I was chronically ill my entire life and everyone always told me I was faking it. I am happy that FINALLY a doctor has an answer for me. After years of searching I know WHY I am always sick.  I am happy that I finally have the answers and information needed to take care of myself.

I am happy to know that my “illness” is not something more serious or terminal. Part of me used to think that I might have some sort of cancer or rare disease that might kill me some day. This thought is gone now.

They are also correct about my obsession with Autism being recent. 

I was Anonymously Autistic for thirty years and didn’t even know it.

I never spoke about Autism before learning about Autism. Is that really so strange?

Until accidentally stumbling across Dr. Temple Grandin (my hero) I didn’t know what Autism was. Listening to her words and the way she described the way she experienced the world was a shocking revelation to me. I will be forever grateful for the work she has done educating the world about Autism.

Here is where people always get things wrong. 

I don’t want attention. Most of the time, due to my social anxiety, I wish I was invisible.

I’m not trying to complain when I point out a sensory trigger. 

Now that I know what’s going on with my body and brain, it is easier for me to understand my triggers. People say I am complaining when I ask for simple accommodations, like a change in lighting or to wear earplugs. They say, “You never asked for these things before.”

I’ve always had triggers, but I had learned to ignore them, making things worse. All because people don’t want to hear me “complain”.

I am reminded of my mother’s words – “You’re not dying – get up!”

They don’t know about the secret headaches and physical pain caused by certain sensory experiences – if I try to tell them they accuse me of complaining or exaggerating.

I’ve been getting up and acting like everything is okay for a long time now. It’s tiresome but apparently I’m so good at passing that even some of my closest friends can’t see (and refuse to believe in) my Autism.

It hurts that they think I am lying or crazy, but I try to remind myself that they are only responding to what I’ve let them see over the years. They only see the tip of the iceberg.

Do I show them more or let them go? I get the feeling they don’t care to know more.

Luckily my immediate family has been very supportive and encouraging. They remember how I was as a child and don’t doubt the diagnosis. I am grateful to have their love and support. Coming out to them was easy because I was not met with doubt.

Coming out Autistic is hard for a multitude of reasons – people don’t believe you, people don’t know what Autism is, people think Autism can be cured, people think Autism only affects children, the list goes on and on.

Hands down the worst thing about coming out is when you try to come out to someone close to you and they basically tell you – “No, you’re making this up. There is nothing wrong with you.”

Cut down like a tree.

When you don’t believe it hurts so bad that I want to stop sharing but I can’t because the world needs to know – for all the other Anonymously Autistic people in the world.

#AnonymouslyAutistic #ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic

 

 

Autism & Employment – Could You Stand the Rejection? – The National Autistic Society

“Thousands of Autistic people are shut out of employment. Their skills are going to waste” 

Do I need to say anything else? This is a HUGE problem in our community.

I was very fortunate to have friends get me into my first few jobs as I built my resume. Then I learned in a management class what to look for when interviewing people – so I became the person you want to meet in an interview (at lest in the interview).

My “interview character” is a mask I wear. It is a fake me I call on to get jobs – and she is GOOD.

Nothing makes my anxiety pump more than a one on one conversation with a stranger.

Tip – if your armpits sweat when your are nervous, like mine do EVERY time I have to speak in a meeting – cover them.

Inside I may be freaking out, but my alter ego takes care of the interview. There have been times when I have over-promised and gotten myself in over my head but getting in the door is always the hardest part. This is a skill i learned and it took study and effort.

So many Aspies, who have talents and gifts to offer the world, cannot get jobs due to sensory issues and trouble in social situations. The world needs us but is unintentionally shutting us out.

Please watch the powerful video from the The National Autistic Society – Could You Stand the Rejection?

I can take NO credit for the video but this topic needs to be discussed.

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.

Living on a Double Rainbow

Amazing post from Aspergirlsanon! A pure wish that so many of us can relate to.

I dream of a day when people won’t look at me like I’m crazy or being dishonest when I tell them I am Autistic. I dream of a day when I won’t have to work to “look normal” or “fit in”. Without true awareness and self advocacy by Autistics for Autistics this can never happen.

We all must write. We must speak for ourselves and not let big organizations lead by Neurotypical people speak for us. Aspies – it is up to us!

I can take no credit for the text below, but please do check out the ASPERGIRLSANON blog for more great content.

“I don’t want to hide my sexuality OR my neurodiversity. I want to be out at work, to show people I can do a job just as well as anyone even though I may struggle with relating to my colleagues. Other aspects of the job, I may do better than them. I want to be out to my neurotypical friends, so they will understand if I respond unusually or need to shut down for a while. The world needs different types of brain. We are different, not less.”

Read the full blog here.

Please subscribe to the ASPERGIRLSANON blog – here.

aspergirlsanon

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Imagine if you had to go through an assessment to establish your sexuality? You have been thinking for a while that something might be “wrong” with you. You find it increasingly difficult to fit in with your straight friends. Maybe you’re getting palpitations when the women’s football team comes on although you have absolutely no interest in football, or you just find those inflatable willies at hen parties worse than ridiculous. You go to your doctor who says “You seem to be exhibiting gay behaviour – your listening to Abba and wearing checked shirts and loafers is a strong indication.” You’re then sent for a 3-hour interrogation with a specialist who probes into your childhood with intrusive questions: “Did you prefer playing with Barbie? Or Ken? Did you watch other women getting intimate with each other? Did your mother not teach you enough about fashion, make-up and being a dainty…

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30 Pieces of Advice for Employers Working With People With Autism

One of my Favorite contributors who blogs about Autism on The MightyMelissa McGlensey , shares 30 things that all employers should know and remember about Autism.

The Mighty teamed up with Autism Society to ask their readers for advice they’d offer employers about working with people with autism for this piece. Below are only a few of my favorite.

“First you have you give [people with autism] a job, a chance to try. Without that, nothing else matters.” — Teresa Duncan Johnson

“Understand that people with autism have a different way of thinking.” — Brian Mah

“Keep in mind it will be different for everybody. The fact that you once met your neighbor’s cousin’s nephew’s friend with autism does not mean you understand autism. Each person is unique.” — Tarina Beatty

“Don’t judge us, especially if we stim.” — Mandy Rain

“If all your employees were as dedicated, had such meticulous attention to detail, were as honest and reliable as people with autism, you wouldn’t have any concerns.” — Cheryl Joyce

“You might have the best and most loyal worker on your hands when you learn to tap into their strengths.” — Marisa Ulrich

Please check out The Mighty (one of my favorite websites) and read the full article (which I can take NO credit for) here.