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BornToDie
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18 May 2010, 7:06 pm

i have only recently (about 2 years ago around age 46) learned about AS and realized i am an aspie (diagnosed a year ago) after what could have been a promising career has been trashed largely due to being unaware of my condition and how it has impacted my interactions with others. i've gone from being a CIO/IT Director and earning almost $150K a year to being a high school teacher making $50K a year...and even now as a high school teacher AS is still kicking my ass career wise. based on the evaluation discussion i had today i figure i have one more year left teaching before i get the boot there (after teaching for 7 years now). kind of tough to find another career at age 50 with outdated skills and being "overqualified" in my primary occupation. in the worst case scenario, i suppose i just file bankruptcy and then off myself...oh hell, why bother with the bankruptcy? what does an otherwise capable and competent person do to live without any employment prospects? without a job, i will lose everything i have, have no where to live, nothing to eat, little to wear. wtf. ok, so it hasn't happened yet but the handwriting is on the wall.

how have others here been affected career-wise due to being an Aspie? how have you dealt with the impacts?



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18 May 2010, 8:23 pm

I've been affected severely in the realm of employment, partly from having asperger's and partly from being a high school dropout (which is likely due to effects of undiagnosed asperger's itself.)

I first started in restaurant work, mainly washing dishes. I found no difficulty in getting jobs but was never able to hold on to them for more than a week or two before I'd be fired with little or no explanation. I'm a hard worker, I kept up the pace, got the dishes all clean, didn't start trouble, got to work on time every day, didn't complain, never left early, so I don't know what I was doing wrong.

As I got older, bosses wanted me to take more responsibility so I'd get hired to wash dishes and within a week get moved to food prep. And then get fired. Or I'd get hired as counter help. And get fired a week or two later. Or I'd get hired as a server. And then get fired. Sometimes bosses would just say it didn't work out. Sometimes they'd say they'd overhired and didn't actually need me. A few times I came in a week or so later to pick up my paycheck and saw a new server getting trained (so much for the overhiring excuse.)

I decided it was just me and restaurant work so I went to a temp agency with a reputation for placing people in permanent positions. I'd get sent to an office to be a receptionist or secretary and then a week later I'd be thanked and told I wasn't needed any more. I did some data entry work but wouldn't be kept on after the immediate project was done (also about a week.)

Every new job, I'd have great determination that this time was going to be the time that it all worked out, the time that I did the right things, the time that I kept the job. Because of my employment history, I'd be hard-working at each job, trying to figure out what I'd done wrong before and not repeat it. But no matter how much I tried to keep myself positive and no matter how good a worker I was, I'd lose the job within a couple of weeks. It's *still* a great mystery to me, even though I know about asperger's now. I know that something about my asperger's was messing up my jobs for me but I still don't have a clue what I was doing wrong.

Because I couldn't keep a job and because I was working at such low-paid jobs, I couldn't keep a roof over my head. I'd scrape together enough for a room and then lose it shortly afterward. I spent time sleeping in parks, McDonald's bathroom stalls, tucked in a back corner of the public library hidden behind a large book. I tried a homeless shelter once when the weather was really bad and a man attacked me so I was scared to ever go back.

Finally, I was able to get on government disability. I still wasn't diagnosed yet but disability in the U.S. goes by function, not diagnosis and it was pretty obvious I was not functioning so the case worker wrote down "depression" in the diagnosis slot (not terribly far from the truth since it is depressing to not be able to hold a job and not know why) and I've been on disability for the last fifteen years or so.

After my diagnosis, some things started to make more sense and after a few years of sorting things out I was able to go to university where I've been ever since and hope to finish my doctorate in a few years. After that, I'm going out into the workplace again for another try, to see if the things I've learned since diagnosis make it easier for me to hold on to a job and to see if going for a job that requires lots of education is a better fit for me than uneducated labor was. A couple of people have been encouraging, telling me that educated work is a completely different environment so things will be different. I try to keep my spirits up, but it's hard not to worry about my past work history because I don't know why I kept getting fired so I don't know if it's just something that minimum wage employers won't put up with or whether it's something that will sabotage my attempts to work, no matter what the field. All I can do, though, is try to educate myself socially and hope.

I realize I didn't answer your first questions, but that's my answer to your last question of "how have others here been affected career-wise due to being an Aspie? how have you dealt with the impacts?" I've been severely affected and I've dealt with the impacts by learning to live on next to nothing and trying to return to work with a different angle in hopes that things might turn out better for me. I don't want to spend the rest of my life on disability and die in a squalid state nursing home like my schizophrenic aunt did. That's my strongest motivating force to keep going even though school is so difficult for me (socially and stress-wise, not academically.)


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rainbowbutterfly
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18 May 2010, 8:39 pm

I have been diagnosed a couple of years ago. It has taken me a couple of years of work experience after being diagnosed to come to terms with the diagnosis and realize the possibility that I do much better in basic, predictable social situations compared to complex social situations.
So anyway, you're lucky that you have a formal diagnosis. It could be used for free job search assistance from the government, with the Department of Rehabilitation. This is what I have done. The Dr. at the DOR went over the information that the psychologist sent, and I was also given career advice counseling. I took some tests to determine my strengths and interests (though the exams weren't that many exams) and then referred to a job search club called Workability III, where we search for jobs, and get advice and assistance with interviewing, writing resumes and cover letters, how to network, and practicing elevator speeches. (People get referred to 1 out of a number of places, including Goodwill and Dayle McIntosh.) Also, the people at the job search club I got referred to individually looked at my case and told me that I'm eligible for a job coach. Additionally they educated me about ARRA (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) that got passed by Barack Obama, which is a $1500 tax incentive for On the Job Training to stimulate the economy. They also educated me about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which gives employers a tax cut if they hire disabled people. Poor cities can also qualify for the Enterprise Hiring Zone tax credit, but I'm not sure whether or not that's only for the state of California.
Anyway, I wish you good luck with your career/career change.



RedHanrahan
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18 May 2010, 11:31 pm

I have spent a lot of my life at rock bottom, have drifted from job, to dole, to job, to job, to homelessness....
Since diagnosis I am coping better, compensating for my 'issues' etc I have now got two part time jobs and understand myself well enough not to try to fit where I don't, be what I aren't and also to understand others aren't like me.

I hope things turn around for you, perhaps teaching is not really the right place for you?

peace j



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19 May 2010, 12:19 am

I can't work due to chronic fatigue, so I can't say how AS alone would have affected me job-wise. (I'm 46). I don't know that you will lose your job prospects altogether since you have been capable of doing high-skill jobs and have your skills still, but please know that if it happens it's possible to live very well on very little money. I survive from the rental income of my house. (I live in a two-family house and live in one apartment and rent out the other),. I was turned down for disability, so I receive no help from the government other than health insurance. I am below the poverty line for a single individual (above it if you count my bf who lives with me, but he doesn't have a high-paying job, and for many years had only occasional work and I was helping him) but I live just fine. I have everything I need. Whatever happens, trust that you will be okay.



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19 May 2010, 12:33 am

bee33 wrote:
I can't work due to chronic fatigue, so I can't say how AS alone would have affected me job-wise.


Having noticed so very many people, both male and female, with both asperger's and chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, I can't help wondering if the high stress levels of living with asperger's is some sort of chronic triggering event that brings on chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. It seems worthwhile for a researcher to investigate, I'd think.

I had thought I had fibromyalgia myself -- had all the symptoms including the painful trigger points for many years, often couldn't even walk -- but it went away when I went gfcf vegan so I think in my case it may have been not true fibro but a cluster of symptoms of food intolerances. The gluten hits me especially hard, I've noticed. And I might be okay with grass-fed beef, but I think the meats bring on the symptoms because so many of them are grain-fed. I used to be able to eat anything with no problems when I was younger, but these days I have to be VERY careful what I put in my mouth if I don't want to have to pay for it for several days afterward. It gets tricky keeping myself fed when most of the cheapest foods are all gluten-heavy.


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19 May 2010, 1:53 am

i have never been successful in the work world. the only entity that hired me and kept me for any appreciable period was uncle sam. at private workplaces, i never lasted more than a few months at most.



Molecular_Biologist
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19 May 2010, 4:40 am

In my case I would have probably dropped out of grad school.

I got saved by a momentary flash of autistic insight which led to research that got published in the most prestigious scientific journal in the world.

I'm still not as successful as I should be, mostly because of executive dysfunction and an inability to form relationships with my colleagues.

When I'm in my office (surrounded by other grad students) I have to wear ear plugs in addition to ear muffs (like the kind you use at firing ranges) in order to drown out the sound to be productive at all.



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19 May 2010, 3:17 pm

Molecular_Biologist wrote:
I'm still not as successful as I should be, mostly because of executive dysfunction and an inability to form relationships with my colleagues.


I was really disheartened the day one of my professors told us that one of the most important things we should be doing as grad students was making connections with each other and that she still runs into her friends from grad school all the time and how wonderful it is an dhow many career doors it opens, etc. etc. It was disheartening because I barely know the names of my fellow grad students (and there aren't that many of us) and some of them I have great difficulty recognizing because so many people look alike to me.

Quote:
When I'm in my office (surrounded by other grad students) I have to wear ear plugs in addition to ear muffs (like the kind you use at firing ranges) in order to drown out the sound to be productive at all.


Brilliant! I've tried wearing the shooter's ear protection when my neighbors get to slamming doors and tromping about in the halls and having conversations all over the place and was frustrated at how little sound they actually blocked out. Sometimes I can block the neighbors out with headphones with music but sometimes music is too distracting from what I'm trying to read/write/study/etc. It never occured to me to try ear plugs under the ear muffs! I'll give that a go the next time the neighbors are bothering me. Thanks!


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Molecular_Biologist
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19 May 2010, 8:01 pm

Quote:
Brilliant! I've tried wearing the shooter's ear protection when my neighbors get to slamming doors and tromping about in the halls and having conversations all over the place and was frustrated at how little sound they actually blocked out. Sometimes I can block the neighbors out with headphones with music but sometimes music is too distracting from what I'm trying to read/write/study/etc. It never occured to me to try ear plugs under the ear muffs! I'll give that a go the next time the neighbors are bothering me. Thanks!


Don't use the rubber plugs either, use the foam ear plugs ( you can buy them in bulk from sellers on ebay)

You squish them up with your fingers, put them in your ear, then they slowly expand to form-fit your ear creating a tight seal (also an advantage since you don't feel them as much as the rubber ones). They are cheap and worth their weight in gold to an autistic person. I have about a thousand pairs (several years supply on hand) and buy them in large quantities as I find I can't live without them and they tend to wear out after about a week.



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19 May 2010, 8:07 pm

Molecular_Biologist wrote:
Don't use the rubber plugs either, use the foam ear plugs ( you can buy them in bulk from sellers on ebay)


I've only ever tried the foam ones. I didn't know other types were made. I keep some foam ones around for if I show up at the range and have forgotten my standard ear protection. I tried sleeping in them once but they cut sound enough that I was too anxious to sleep because something might happen or something might catch fire or someone might sneak up on me while I was helpless.

They're far less comfortable than the shooting ear protection, which is why I opted for the shooter's muffs when my neighbors got loud. But combining the two might cut enough noise to make the physical discomfort worth it to me.


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bee33
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19 May 2010, 8:23 pm

Sparrowrose wrote:
bee33 wrote:
I can't work due to chronic fatigue, so I can't say how AS alone would have affected me job-wise.


Having noticed so very many people, both male and female, with both asperger's and chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, I can't help wondering if the high stress levels of living with asperger's is some sort of chronic triggering event that brings on chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. It seems worthwhile for a researcher to investigate, I'd think.
I've seen a few people mention it, but I wasn't sure if it was a common combination. I've always sort of discounted the effect that AS has on my life , because it's mostly mild, except that it's very difficult for me to deal with other people, and I find it extremely stressful. I have only taken my AS seriously very recently, when I went to an AS specialist and she said my social impairment was some of the worst she's seen, even though I don't have some of the other common traits.

So yes, it's exhausting for me to have a conversation, or even be around people even when I'm not expected to talk, and I wonder whether my chronic fatigue is related to that somehow, though even when I'm a hermit I feel exhausted regardless. I don't know what to think, and it's very difficult to find out, because both AS experts and CFS experts are few, and none have overlapping knowledge about both conditions.

Thanks for your input.



Molecular_Biologist
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19 May 2010, 8:35 pm

Quote:
They're far less comfortable than the shooting ear protection, which is why I opted for the shooter's muffs when my neighbors got loud. But combining the two might cut enough noise to make the physical discomfort worth it to me.


The only problem I still have is with low frequency noises, which are notoriously difficult to cut down with any hearing protection.



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19 May 2010, 9:15 pm

My career's on its way into oblivion. I've done nothing but make unwise decisions that seemed to decrease my salary and happiness every time I turned around. I'm working on making this better. Who knows. It's discouraging, but I'm going to fix it. i need help though.

OP, hang in there.



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19 May 2010, 9:56 pm

bee33 wrote:
So yes, it's exhausting for me to have a conversation, or even be around people even when I'm not expected to talk, and I wonder whether my chronic fatigue is related to that somehow, though even when I'm a hermit I feel exhausted regardless. I don't know what to think, and it's very difficult to find out, because both AS experts and CFS experts are few, and none have overlapping knowledge about both conditions.

Thanks for your input.


I can definitely relate to being exhausted around people. When my stress levels get high, I have episodes of what's called "visual migraines" -- it doesn't hurt like a migraine headache, but I go blind for 30 minutes to an hour. So when I start getting clusters of those, I back off from leaving the house until my stress level comes back down a little. But try to get someone else to understand that!

This Easter, I was having my stress blindness but I REALLY wanted to go to church for Holy Week. I haven't missed a Holy Week since I converted and so I showed up on Palm Sunday with the idea that I would leave early before anyone could corner me for conversation. I figured it wouldn't push my stress level up too much because I wouldn't stay for coffee hour and would only have to stand there among people but not interact with them.

As Liturgy went on, my stress level went through the roof, though, because first people kept coming up and TOUCHING me (I have told folks at church several times that it hurts to be touched, especially when I'm not expecting it, but still there are people who will walk up behind me and touch my arm. Sometimes I wonder if they just get a kick out of seeing me jump out of my skin!) Then the woman in front of me came back from communion (which I haven't been going to because we got a new priest and I don't feel comfortable going to confession with him so I don't feel like I have a right to take communion until I sort all that out first.) and she had brought me back a huge chunk of antidoron (the blessed bread that is given out with communion) and I said no thank you (even though anyone can take the antidoron, whether they're eligible for communion or not) because gluten really messes me up and I was already messed up so I didn't want a big hunk of bread, blessed or otherwise.

The woman made a really big deal out of me not acecpting the antidoron from her, though. Then she grabbed my by the arm (OUCH!) and in a really intense whisper (with really bad breath) said, "stay after the service. I want to talk to you." I said, "no, I can't. I have to go." She said, "it's really important. Please." and I said, "no." and then I waited until her back was turned and sneaked out of Liturgy (which was about to end soon anyway.) Someone grabbed me at the door and I made polite excuses that I had to go. No sooner had I gotten out of her grasp when someone else tried to grab hold of me and followed me out the door and cornered me on the front porch. I was trying to get her to let me go when the bread woman came out the door, saying, "there you are! I was looking for you!" About this time, I sense a blindness episode coming on and I get frantic to get away and get safely home before I lose my vision and get stuck someplace for an hour.

"I really have to go!" I pushed away from the woman cornering me and start down the stairs. Bread woman says, "I'll walk with you." About this point, I've been detained long enough that everyone else is coming out the doors and now I'm REALLY frantic because more people are going to try to detain me and I have to get away NOW! The woman follows me down the sidewalk, running to keep up with me. I'm jogging along and she's saying something really inane like, "how have you been?" I can't take it any more and I explode, "I've been stressed out and I wanted to leave before I got more stressed out. The stress has been making me blind and I REALLY HAVE TO GO!"

I jump in the car, praying that I won't lose so much vision I have to pull over before I get home. Everything's getting glittery and "snowy" like a tv on a static channel. I slam the door and lock it, start the car and almost hit her (NOT intentionally!) as I pull away. Needless to say, I missed Holy Week. (I did manage to make it home before my vision went completely out.) And I haven't been back to Liturgy since. Though I miss it terribly and keep telling myself every Sunday that I'll just go and stand in the back and leave *during* communion so no one has a chance to stop me.

So, yeah. People. Stress. Life is so much better when I don't leave the house.

As for feeling exhausted even when you don't leave the house, have you considered that you might be experiencing autistic burn-out? That's where you cope and cope and cope for years and might not even realize the stress you're under because you're under it so constantly that it feels normal and then *pow* something breaks and you feel like you became "more autistic" and can't handle things you used to be able to handle and maybe also get adrenal fatigue along with it or one of the stress-related conditions like type 2 diabetes or just general health decay and have to back off from things or take fewer hours at work (or quit altogether) and some people end up divorcing or separating because they can't handle living with another person any more.

If the chronic fatigue is AS-related, you would almost certainly be experiencing autistic burn-out as well which would easily explain why you are still worn out, even when you rest and don't leave the house. You've run your nervous system into the ground by trying for years to function in a non-autistic manner and it eventually backfired.

Just a thought, anyway. I'm not a doctor or an AS specialist, just another autistic trying to make sense of the world.


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20 May 2010, 5:27 am

I love the word career. It conjures an image of a vehicle wildly swerving all over the place, eventually to lose complete control and crash.


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