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Autism: Value In What I Can Do

18 Jan

Talking with my psychiatrist the a couple of weeks ago brought out some pretty severe anxiety, defensiveness, and an overall shouting in my head of “I can’t.” At the same time, I have been fixated on jobs… careers… ideas ever since.

Okay, so I can’t go out to work; can’t work with people; can’t bring myself to leave my dogs; can’t do anything that would increase my anxiety; can’t do something that would put risk to my husband’s retirement, or would mean I would have to make up the difference in income… there are so many things I can’t do – and these are the things that have been going through my head since my appointment, thereby significantly increasing both my anxiety around who I am, and what I should be doing, and my irritation at the pressure being put on me from other people.

I don’t handle pressure well.

But with all the things I can’t do, there must be something I can – if only I could figure out what that is. When I seek help in finding out what I might be able to do, however, the people I am talking to get frustrated with me. They want me to be able to accept some type of ‘typical’ work, and despite knowing about my disabilities, they still seem to expect me to overcome them in order to make their jobs easier.

Since they hear my protests at their suggestions, but don’t understand that I have enough experience to know my limits, they (like most people in my life) just believe I am being difficult. That opinion is not true. Life is difficult for me, and I have many limitations – but I am not being difficult towards them. They all give up on me. They always have.

Still, I don’t believe that just because what I need is very different from the type of help they are used to giving, it means there is no answer for me. There are some things I look at and think, “I could do that!”

The trouble is that such work is not easy to find, and when I am searching for it, I can’t even think of the right words. Words are not an easy thing for me to find at the best of times. It is also a challenge that people put such value on some things, and none at all on others. What gives others the right to determine how much value the things I can do have?

August Vacation 2016 004

I can understand the value in some jobs: Doctors have to have a lot of hard earned education to be able to keep us healthy and alive. Police (hopefully) work dangerous jobs to keep the rest of us safe. Teachers have to put in many hours of planning and preparation to prepare children for the world, and have to learn to keep calm even in stressful situations (behaviour issues.)

Yet so many other jobs… what makes an artists time of less worth than, say, a bankers? Not that I am an artist at all, but it is just an example. Why does one struggle to make ends meet, where the other does quite well? I suppose I am an idealist, but I think that everyone should be able to spend their time doing what they are best at; or feel best doing – and be valued just as well as everyone else for doing it.

If I did find work I could do, I think it would look something like this:

  • It would be solitary work (I can’t function well with other people around.)
  • It would be in my home, or at least have a private bathroom and kitchen for me alone to use.
  • I could bring my dogs with me, for I am anxious apart from them.
  • It would not have high pressure – like security, but somewhere safe, or a caretaker position, that doesn’t require much skill or energy… mostly I would be there to watch to ensure things are going well rather than having to always be doing something.
  • I would be able to pursue my own interests while I was working, without that being part of my job (like the jobs in the movies where people are building puzzles or playing games while working, and it is an acceptable use of time.)
  • I would mostly just have to be there, but my time would still for the most part be my own.
  • I wouldn’t have to travel much for the work – so again, I would live there at least most of the time.
  • Aside from my choices in activities, the environment would be quiet most of the time.

Maybe an apartment manager if I could have professionals do the repairs, and mostly just took the rent payments – perhaps with a co-op or something where the residents helped with the cleaning of the building, and grounds keeping. Maybe a laundromat attendant (if I could live in a suite above, or something). Maybe a lighthouse keeper, if most of what I had to do was turn on the light at sunset.

Maybe those aren’t great jobs for me, but my point is: there must be something I could do – if only I could figure out what it was, and find the job to match.

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One response to “Autism: Value In What I Can Do

  1. kazst

    January 18, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I’m very much in the same situation.

    Like

     

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