RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2015

Autism: Matching Career to Personality

For years I have been researching online, and through books from the library, to find a career that would be a good fit for me. The online tools, being geared to NTs, have always left me feeling frustrated.  They never took my weaknesses, and needs into account, and so would have top results that I knew would never work for me.  Sometimes they would share results that I would initially be excited about, but would find they were a horrible fit when I tried working in that area (such as construction.)

Today I found online job interest tools on a site geared for people with special needs.  It has several quizzes to help determine strengths and weaknesses, interests, and environmental demands.  Many of these need to be printed off (I just listed them on another program on my computer.)

You can find that site here:

http://www.do2learn.com/JobTIPS/

After taking all of these quizzes, the job descriptions page lists a detailed description of each job, including the type of environment, working hours, and educational requirements. My conclusion was that the best jobs for me are as follows:

  1. Writer/Photographer – the writing is my top interest, and the fact that I am able to do this from home, on my own hours makes it the best fit for me.  I believe adding pictures to my blog makes it more interesting to look at, but I am not good enough at it to make it a full time career.  I like writing my blog, writing my novel, and even writing my journal (which I continue to do every day.)  The determining factor for this would be income.
  2. Filing Clerk – if I have to go out to work, this would be the job for me.  It is repetitive, and predictable.  The job itself would cause low anxiety, it would mainly be the leaving home part that I would fight against.  It basically takes all that I was good at with my last job, but takes out the part where I had to deal with people, and answer phones, that strongly increased my anxiety.  I do think this would be a good fit if I could get the time off when I needed it.
  3. Office Clerk – for much the same reasons that the filing clerk job would be a good fit, this one would as well – that is as long as answering phones, and dealing with people was not part of the job description.

I believe that the environmental section made all of the difference in being able to fully visualize what the job would be like, and how good of a fit that would be for me.  This tool has helped me to see the areas I should be looking into when I consider what to do when my Medical EI runs out.  I am thankful for having found this website today.

 
 

Tags: ,

Autism: The Battle of Time and Space

While many people with Autism are seen as logical, and realistic, that is not true of all of us. Many times in my life I have been accused of being an idealist, and spending my time in a fantasy world.

I would have to agree with my accusers there. While I see reality for what it is, I am in a constant battle with it.

Take time and space, for instance. These are abstract concepts that I find it hard to wrap my mind around. My memories come to me so real, I feel as if I could just step through a door and be there. I can see the people, hear the words, smell the smells… and it feels like now. I want to go back there to that moment. I want to change the outcome. I want to make a difference. I know I could do better the second, or third time around, and I plead for that chance.

TARDIS Mk VII

Perhaps if I could let go of regrets, I could also let go of this battle with time – but I don’t live well forward. My imagination can take me to different worlds. It can show me the worst case scenario for what might happen in the future – but when it comes to making real life decisions in the moment, or deciding what to do next, it fails me nearly every time. As a result I have a past full of regret, and very real failure, and a future full of anxiety and doubt.

So I battle time. If I can see the past, why can’t I get there? If my disabilities make it impossible for me to live well the first time, why can’t I go back and try again? I see reality. I know I can’t really get there… but there is an ache, a longing inside of me, to find a way beyond the laws of this world, and get there anyway.

It is likely the difficulty, discomfort, and cost of travel – as well as the necessity – which are the cause of my struggle with distance. My mom lives 4000km (about 2000 miles) away from me. My brothers, grandmother, and all of my extended family live there, too. Very rarely is it possible for me to get there to visit. They can’t get here. I have a deep longing to visit with them… with my mom especially… but I can’t.

It is my fault for moving away. I know this. I also know that if I could get beyond my severe anxiety issues, and find a well paying job (and somehow push myself not to burn out and crash this time, as I always have in the past) that it is only a 5 hour direct flight – 7 hours of travel total. If I could find the time, I could make the trip without too much trouble. Realistically I can’t work like that, though. I have tried. I have pushed myself. It never works.

So I dream of being able to teleport from one place to another. Instantaneous travel. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about cost, or the dangers of travel, or what I am going to eat. I wouldn’t have to be anxious about sleeping in someone else’s bed, or using someone else’s bathroom. These are all struggles for me that might be solved with this superpower. I know it isn’t possible. I see the reality of it, and I battle it.

It isn’t just for such long distances that I desire this ability, either. My son would like to move to the coast someday. It is only a 4-5 hour drive, but for someone who struggles with motion sickness, this tears at my heart. I fear I won’t see him, and it will be like when I moved away from my mom. The intention was to visit often, but the reality was that I rarely could.

Perhaps it is an Autistic trait. The abstracts, such as time and space, are very difficult for me to understand. The reality traps me into a life full of longing and regret. My lack of imagination towards the future has brought about the choices which led to failure, and separation from those I love. I can only think of the better choices when I look backwards – but life doesn’t give second chances, especially where I have failed.

It is hard to live like this – to always battle the reality which cages me. It is harder to accept the reality as it is given. So I live with this idealism, and I design my fantasy worlds, where I can spend my time. It is a dream, but it is so much easier for me to exist that way.

And that, I guess, is Autism – to see all that is wrong with the world, and create a world that works for us in whatever way we can.

 

Tags: , , ,

Autism: The Life of a Housewife

In the mornings now I wake up and think of all of the things that I have to do.

Today I will:

  • clean the kitchen and bathrooms
  • sweep the floors like I do most days now
  • do a couple of loads of laundry
  • I should vacuum the master bedroom and rec room (if I can talk myself into cleaning out the vacuum canister that is full of spiders from cleaning the workshop the other day)
  • write a blog post or two
  • exercise
  • practice playing my keyboard
  • work on my book (I am now typing corrections and additions into the computer)
  • maybe I will wash the floors, too.

I think of all of these things that I have to do, and I am content with my life. I didn’t choose to be off of work – I was told it was necessary. It is a good lifestyle for me, though.

By 11am I have one load of laundry in the washer, the other is hanging on the line. I am still debating about the vacuuming – I don’t like spiders. The rest of my cleaning is done, and I am working on my blog. I look around my house, and it is clean. It calms me. I don’t have to block out my environment like I had to when I was working, and too stressed and burnt out to take care of my house, too. I am happy here.

I look forward to my planned activities for the afternoon. There is so much to learn, and to do! Life is interesting. I can feel my depression and anxiety lifting each day that I am home.

Considering the fall I think, for perhaps the first time, that I could handle hosting life group in my home. It is clean. I can keep it clean. Maybe I can do that. Maybe I would even bake desserts to share with people when they come. Maybe I can!

Somehow I have to find a way to contribute financially to my family. I really don’t want to go back to work. I am happy here, doing what I am doing. But I need the income. It is a battle. I love writing this blog, and working on my book. I want these things to be shared. To get some money from them would be nice, but I know that for me, I have to write for a better purpose. I would rather it not become something I had to do for the money, but could continue to be something I want to do because I have so much to share.

001

Maybe I could learn to garden, and grow more than pumpkins and sunflowers. I could learn to can and dehydrate the food that I grow, to lessen our food costs through the year. Maybe I could do that – but it wouldn’t be enough.

I try to remind myself that God brought me here. I didn’t ask for it, but I sure did pray for it. If God brought me here, He can also provide for me to be able to stay. I try to trust in Him. Faith is hard! It isn’t something that just comes, and we walk pleasantly along, never worrying about anything. Faith is a lot of work, and needs to be strengthened moment by moment, day by day.

There are many fears that come from being here, but not like the ones I have from going to work. I could live like this. I could thrive here. My hope is that I will be able to stay.

 

Tags: , , ,

Autism: The Trouble With Facial Recognition

This morning as I was driving towards the other side of town, I saw a hitchhiker. It is not unusual for people to try and get rides there, as it is a major highway. This person, however, looked a bit like someone I knew.

One thing to note is that I have a lot of trouble with face recognition. It used to frustrate my mom and older brother a lot when I was a teen, and they would try to describe someone famous, who had been in a lot of movies that I liked. I could rarely recognize a person out of context then, and it is still hard today. Some days I am even surprised when I see my husband (of nearly 12 years) in a picture, and it takes me a while to place him. I guess that also has to do with my autism, but I never knew it before.

So I looked at this person, who looked like someone I thought I knew, and he looked at me. He smiled and picked up his pack. But what if he wasn’t that person, and suddenly I was faced with a stranger getting into my car?

I was only going not a minute up the street, but if it was the person I was thinking of, and he needed to go to the next town or something, I would have taken him (as long as he was willing to drive – due to my performance anxiety thing.) But if he wasn’t that person, I couldn’t handle taking a strange man even 1 minute up the street… and what would I have said to him? Words are hard, too.

The strong likelihood is that it wasn’t who I thought it was. There seems to be little reason why he would be trying to hitchhike on the highway since he drives. Even if there was trouble with his car, and he needed to get somewhere, he knows hundreds of people in this town who he could ask to take him where he needed to go.

Even though it probably wasn’t him, in my usual fashion I have been obsessing about this, and feeling guilty over it all afternoon. Should I have stopped?

Now that I know I have Autism, I also know that I wouldn’t want to be “cured.” It is who I am, not some disease that I have. There are some aspects, however, such as this struggle with recognizing faces, which at times I could do without.

 

Tags: , ,

Autism: Communication and Anxiety

How do I explain to someone who is sitting before me, trying to get me to talk, that there is so much more to me than what they see and hear?

Take my intake session for counseling, for instance. This happened on the same day as the “parking lot incident” that I wrote previously about. I also had to work later that afternoon. For me that meant multiple panic attacks and severe anxiety starting the night before every shift, and carrying through until my next day off (as long as I had a minimum of 2-3 days off together, which didn’t always happen.)

So here I was, with my anxiety as high as could be (we’re talking firing squad level panic) and I am supposed to sit in an appointment with a man I didn’t know, in an office I wasn’t familiar with, and put together cohesive sentences explaining fully why I asked for psychiatric services to begin with.

“What is the main thing you want help with,” he asked me. “Work,” I said – but it wasn’t fully the truth. True, I came in for help on work, but it was so much more than that. I need help in learning to work while also living outside of work, because even if I only work a couple of days each week, it still feels like all of life, and I am too exhausted and stressed out to live outside of that.

I need help learning to control my anxiety so I am not so scared all of the time – even in a routine job that I know I can do, and have worked at for more than 3 years.

I need help because I can’t handle the unpredictable schedules, and the interference with the limited things I would like to do socially outside of work (such as church activities, camping, flying across the country to visit my mom, spending time with my son, and going to the theatre.)

I need help because for both income as well as what my job desires from me is that I work full time – but how do I express that I get burnt out the first week, and it doesn’t get easier with time? How do I say that without them thinking I am lazy, or a failure? How do I press through it when the second week I hate my job, myself, and am irritated enough to want to run from my family? By the third week I am tired of life and can’t keep going.

But all he hears is, “work.” So he responds, “well, we all have to work, you know.” How is that helpful? You don’t understand. Why is it I can only get that one word out when there is so much going on in my mind? I have worked most of the past 15 years, but it has always caused me to crash. I know I need to work, please help me to learn how.

And besides work, there are so many other issues that I came in here for. I need help with all of them (obviously communication is a big problem, can’t you see it?)

When I am talking to someone, and their focus is on me, I can actually feel that I am thinking from a different part of my brain. All of these thoughts that I wrote down come from the right side of my brain, at the back, and close to the center. The word(s) I can speak in such situations, and whenever I am anxious (which is almost always) come from the very front, just above my eyes. Does anyone else feel their thoughts that way? It is a long way to make a connection, when the path is rough, unpaved, and filled with debris.

How do I speak to them so they know there is so much more to me than what they see and hear?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Autism: Out in Public

 

Tags: , ,

Now!

Reflections of time shining on the surface

A glow of fear and pain

Wishing it would never be shown

Wishing they didn’t need to know

But here I am again.

Words echoing in my mind

So much that I need to say

Rattling my brain, turning away

Why do I have to go back to that day?

Trying to find where to begin.

A great escape behind the wall

A place to hide, to shine, to cry

Trapped inside, searching for a key

To unlock the chains and set me free

But where do I go from there?

Afraid of the world flowing past outside

People who don’t understand

So much power over me

Deciding what’s right – but can’t they see

All I need is some help from a friend.

How to express what they’ve never known

Living a life where one doesn’t belong

Trying to fit in a world that rejects

Anyone different from them and expects

Us all to be the same.

Shaking and dizzy I walk in the room

Working to gain the strength

To say what I must, though the words won’t come

How do I tell them how I’ve overcome

When I know that I haven’t – yet.

 

Tags: , ,

Autism: School Experiences as an Undiagnosed Aspie

School was always a challenge for me. It isn’t that I didn’t understand the work, but in so many ways it was an uncomfortable place for me to be. I think it might have been helpful if they knew I had Autism. If they knew that I couldn’t be who they wanted me to be, maybe they would have encouraged me in what I could do. But they didn’t know.

school

I knew that I was different from the other children. I didn’t think, talk, play, or interact like them. Frequently they would call me out on this. I couldn’t be someone that I wasn’t. In the earlier grades, I didn’t even know that I was supposed to try.

Participating in class was often impossible for me. I knew that the teachers thought I was slow, unmotivated, far too shy… I knew what they thought, but I couldn’t explain myself. The words wouldn’t come out.

I resented the fact that they thought I was slow. Just because I couldn’t speak, didn’t mean I didn’t understand. Just because I didn’t finish or hand in the projects, didn’t mean I wasn’t motivated to do the work. I couldn’t form the connections to speak, but within my mind, my thoughts were vast and detailed. I was afraid of being called out for mistakes on my projects. That is why I didn’t hand them in.

People make judgments based on what they see, but what people see is such a small piece of what is true. That always seemed so unfair to me. However, being the quiet, frightened child that I was, it was easier to sit quietly and take it then it was to try to explain with words that wouldn’t come out.

I have autism, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand. My intelligence is at the very least average. Probably a little higher than that. It wasn’t until college that that was shown, however. In college, when I was studying topics I was particularly interested in, my grades became very high. When a lot of the class was failing, I was getting honours marks.

For so long, the teachers and students alike, treated me as if I was ‘stupid.’ For so long that is what they thought, and while I resented it, I also over time believed they must be correct.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned they were wrong.

 

Tags: , ,

Autism: Talking With My Mom About My Diagnosis

Yesterday I spoke to my mom on the phone. Years ago I moved across the country to start my daycare. I had thought that I would be able to visit a couple of times a year, and to talk to her often. I am not good at imagining what the future may bring, and am somewhat of an idealist, I guess. Things often don’t turn out as I expect them to.

I miss my mom. I wasn’t exactly close to her when I was younger. She spent so much time with my sick and noticeably disabled brother. When my son was born, however, I found my support from her. When all of my other relationships were falling apart, my bond with my mother grew.

Then I moved away. My son was just 4 years old at the time. I thought I would get back often to visit, but life didn’t happen that way.

My mom takes care of my older brother’s children now. She is busy all of the time, and exhausted when she is able to stay home. She still has to look after my younger brother, also, who will never be able to live fully independent.

So I talked to my mom yesterday. It was our first phone conversation since my diagnosis. I didn’t know how she would respond.

She didn’t know how my autism could have been missed. They had taken me to doctors. They were involved with specialists for my brother. They were looking for unusual development. So how could it have been missed with me?

I explained that they didn’t really start diagnosing until the 90’s, but I grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s. They wouldn’t have known. We talked about how everyone thought I was shy, because I wouldn’t talk or participate – but for me, I had the words, but couldn’t make the connections to get them out most of the time. We talked about my multiple sensory issues. She remembered. She remembered it all. She just didn’t know.

Five years ago, during a very emotional period of my life, I wrote a novel. It was only about 40,000 words in length, but the structure of the story was there. I just needed to add a bit to it. I only found that novel again a week ago. (In truth I was afraid to look in case I had really misplaced it, or found it was horrible.) I went over it all of this week, making some corrections and additions, but found that I really liked the overall story still. I didn’t make a lot of changes.

I talked to my mom about this, too. About how I love writing, and about how I still think my book is interesting. Five years ago, when I first told her, she didn’t think I had much chance with it (she never read it.) Yesterday, however, she was very encouraging.

I spoke to my mom yesterday. She lives so far away, and I can’t get there. She can’t get here. I miss her. So often I wish I had never moved away.  It is really hard on me to live so far from my mom.  I need her.

 

Tags: ,

Autism: On Parking Lots and Belonging

As usual I was already anxious that morning. I had an appointment with someone I didn’t know, and it was important for me to be able to share my struggles in order to get the help I have so desperately needed.

Forty minutes before my scheduled appointment, I left home. It only takes ten minutes to get there, but I always have to be early. It is a compulsion. I need the time to sit and find some form of calm. I need to know that I am not late – and so I am always early. I always have to wait. I like it that way.

I had been to the health unit for an appointment before. My heart thudded from thoughts of crowded parking lots – but that time it had been nearly empty. All was okay. I was sure it would be the same today. After all, my appointment was for the same time as it had been the week before.

Coming down the hill I couldn’t see the parking lot until it was time to turn in. It was full of cars. People everywhere. Instant panic set in. What do I do? I saw an opening, and turned towards it, praying I could get into the spot without too much trouble. I pulled around, and that is where I saw the sign. The spot was reserved for staff.

Dead end. People were around. Watching. So nervous. Block them out. It took several tries, but I turned around. Was that my psychiatrist watching me? Not sure – I am not good with faces. Probably.

I turned to go further into the parking lot. It looked like there was another spot further in. A white truck. Stopped in front of the entry. I can’t get around. What do I do? You are not supposed to stop there. Wait behind him. My mind becomes fuzzy. So much stress. It is getting later. I need to get past.

I move forward. Maybe I can squeeze between him and the parked car beside. A smaller car comes toward me, and I have to back up. I try again. Why won’t the white truck move? Can’t he see I need to get by? The minutes on the clock move forward. Now twenty minutes from my appointment. Now fifteen.

What would others do? Honk the horn, probably. He shouldn’t be there. I put my hand over the horn and try, but I can’t do it. I have never used it before. Why can’t he see me? Why doesn’t he know I need to get by?

Twelve minutes until my appointment. He pulls forward. I can get through. I start to drive, but another vehicle pulls out of a spot and comes toward me. I have to swerve between the two trucks. Finally able to park.

Shaking, I walk through the doors. Ten minutes until my appointment. I am late. Not enough time to calm. No longer can I focus on what other people may think. I rock and twist my hands, holding back the tears. It didn’t need to be that way.

My name is called. Head bent low, I walk with him down the hallway. How are you? What am I supposed to say? The words won’t come.

We arrive in his office, and I sit in the seat. My tears start coming. I tell him about the parking lot. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal. “Park across the street,” he says. I didn’t know.

My focus is gone. It is all I can think of. I can’t get beyond it. I can’t do this.  I don’t belong in your world.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: