My coworkers despise me, and think I am a moron

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RnzWithSizzors33
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19 Aug 2016, 1:35 pm

Hello, all. I am new to this site as of today. I just wanted to share my story, and maybe ask some advice. I do tend to be long-winded and descriptive, and I apologize in advance, but my situation is desperate.

Before I launch into what is going on at work, I will give you a little background into the kind of person I am, in order to better paint the picture for you. I grew up in a small town, in a close-knit community of people. Everyone knew everyone else's business, but no one really knew anything about the "outside world." Anyway, before changing my diagnosis to Asperger's when I was 5, doctors had diagnosed me with "childhood schizophrenia." :roll: This was back when Asperger's was a fairly new diagnosis, and no one, not even the doctors, really knew anything about it. Anyway, the schools certainly didn't know anything about it, and whether or not my parents informed them, I have no idea. But anyway, the older I got, the more difficult it was to fit in. I had the outward appearance of a normal "NT" kid, because there was nothing odd about my physical appearance, and my parents had taught me how to be discreet when I needed to stim, and so on. In spite of this, the bullying began in 4th grade, not just by fellow students, but by teachers as well. The thing was, I don't think any of them knew I had a disability. Despite the fact that I gave my very best every day, the teachers just thought I was trying to be difficult, and would delight in making an example of me in front of everyone, while showing respect and patience to all my classmates. This caused me to always feel like there was something wrong with me. I had no friends, and my classmates just knew I was different than them, and treated me terribly. Now, for some reason, I was always the type of kid who loved people, and only ever wanted to be liked and accepted, but no one really took the time to try to understand or get to know me. My parents were so busy with work, and my siblings were so self-absorbed, that I didn't really have any support. The combination of these factors caused me to grow into the type of person who believes down to the very core that because the people I interacted with on a regular basis didn't see anything worthy in me, I must not be worth anything. For this reason, I have never defended myself to anyone, because no matter what the issue, or how outlandish, deep down, I knew they must be right. Not the mention the fact that confrontation terrifies me to the point that I shake and sweat and develop a terrible stutter, if I can talk at all.

Fast forward... I am now 38, and have learned a few things about the world. I have worked a variety of different jobs over the years, just trying to find somewhere I can thrive and be valuable. I have no college education. I wasn't interested in continuing my education after high school... gosh, I wonder why. 8O I started out in food service, which didn't work, because it was too fast-paced, and I found it too stressful. My coworkers hated me, and meltdowns were all too common. So I tried my hand in motel housekeeping. That actually worked out well for the most part, but I was not making enough money, and was coming home sore and exhausted all the time. My parents suggested putting in for a position at a group home for the developmentally disabled. I did get the job, and lasted a couple of years at that place, but some of the behaviors I had to deal with were hard for me, and I couldn't handle it. I moved on to a day service place, where elderly and developmentally disabled people would come for six hours a day on the weekdays, and do activities, such as games, puzzles, etc., and I lasted a couple of years there, but I was in an abusive marriage at the time, so my performance started to decline, and I was let go, and labeled a "no rehire." I then began work at a shelter for juvenile runaways, most of whom had been in trouble with the law. I lasted a few years, but I didn't know how to recognize the manipulation tactics that some of the kids would use on me, and they ended up getting away with a lot of things. Nothing that got me into big trouble, but my coworkers began to talk about what a pushover I was, and how I let the kids get away with whatever they wanted, etc. This made me angry at the kids, and angry at myself for not recognizing when they were doing it, so I left. I then moved on to a children's psychiatric hospital, where I worked for 8.5 years. It was very stressful, and I almost quit a number of times, but I caught wind of a little bet my coworkers had going, so see how long it would take me to quit - for the record, I outlasted every one of them. :tongue: I finally left when they hired a new person who had enough of a leader personality, that when she decided that she disliked me, she got everyone else to jump on board, including my boss, and before I knew it, I was being excluded from committee meetings, shunned from social gatherings, etc., until I couldn't take it anymore. This led me to the place I work today...

In my years at the aforementioned job, I began to truly examine my strengths and weaknesses, and found that I have a particular flair for detail-oriented, hands-on work, more than work that requires me to read people, because frankly, I am not good at it. I also decided to be forthcoming about my diagnosis in my future endeavors, so I talked about it in my interview, and tried to accent the positives about it, and how it could benefit my work. Thus, I am now employed as an orthodontic technician, and have been here for about ten months. I have come to discover that I really enjoy the work itself. At least I think I do. Here is my problem: Even though from day one, I made sure to let all of my coworkers know about my disability, the things I have trouble with, and the fact that I learn a little bit differently, they absolutely loathe me because of my struggles. I think this is because I was doing fine at first, and because I don't "appear" disabled, so they think I was making it up or something. I can mark exactly when my performance started to decline. It was when my trainer came in in a bad mood one day, and began to take it out on me. She was unjustifiably cruel, and began hurling insults at me while I was in a patient's mouth with a sharp instrument. I began shaking, which caused me to draw blood on the gum tissue. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough that my patient (a 7 year-old girl) freaked out, as did my trainer, who was already freaking out on me. Everyone in the place saw and/or heard the whole thing, so tack on utter humiliation to the whole mess. After taking a moment to compose myself in the break room, I did my best to recover, and resume my work. It didn't end there. She continued targeting me for the rest of the day, but it was worse since the incident, and my other coworkers began to join in. I talked to my boss (the doctor) the next day, and he informed me that this was just the dynamic of the place, and that I'd "better to learn to grow a thick skin." I told him I would try. This was several months ago, and it has been daily ever since, sometimes even from the doctor himself. I have quite literally become the office prey. Now, because I am a person who associates experiences and emotions, I now cannot perform even the simplest tasks without my mind associating that day, which triggers me to shake, and forget crucial steps, and make mistakes. For the record, because this profession is so involved, on-the-job training is supposed to last for a year. The aforementioned "trainer" of mine actually refused to continue training me after 4 months, because I "just p*ssed her off too much." The doctor told her that is okay, and that I probably learned better at my own pace, and in my own way anyway. This would have been fine, except that he appears to have forgotten he said that. I say this because he gets furious when I ask questions, and says I have been there long enough that I should know. There is no explaining that the stage at which I was being "taught" these things, I was also being abused, and was not able to retain a lot of it. He accuses me of "making excuses," no matter how I try and explain it. I now cannot go anywhere in that office without being belittled by someone, or overhearing a conversation about what a moron I am, and how I am an embarrassment to the profession, and making them all look bad, etc.

Anyway, I have been long-winded enough, so I won't go into all the many things I have endured. Just know that it has been daily, and without ceasing. I already intend to leave, and I don't intend to raise a huge stink, so that is not the advice I am seeking. I have reached the conclusion that I need to avoid jobs where reading others and interacting is a regular part of the job, because I clearly don't know how to do it correctly, and I am frankly tired of trying, because I always fail. I am sick of having to apologize for being me, and of trying to explain myself, and having nobody understand, or worse yet - of having them think they do, but still get it all wrong. That said, what I need to know is, what professions ARE good for someone with Asperger's? Do I really have to settle for being "the creepy janitor who never talks," or other jobs with lesser pay, in order to thrive in the workplace? I would love a job where I could just come in, put my head down, and work. No talking with others, no having to always say the right thing, and no having to worry about my success being based on what others think of me as a person. I would love a job that others find mundane, predictable, and repetitive. My question is, does such a job exist above minimum wage, or will I always be restricted to an impoverished life? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!



BTDT
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19 Aug 2016, 1:46 pm

The usual dynamic is that you knowingly or perhaps unknowingly "raise the bar" to compensate for your weaknesses. Rather than work harder to meet the higher standard, most offices will get rid of you for doing that.

Most Aspies think that doing more work is good. It is good for your boss, but bad for your co-workers, who are usually pressured by your boss to do more work.

Instead, the way to compensate is to help out your co-workers, doing things that make their job easier. Perhaps dealing with those customers or clients that nobody else wants to talk to. Or, doing what you can to help out when someone else is having a bad day.



slenkar
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19 Aug 2016, 2:49 pm

Do you engage your doctor and trainer in smalltalk? This is a necessary thing you have to do or they will see you as an enemy.

They know you are not a moron really,they are just belittling you because they are not getting what they want from you, which is positive affirmations through smalltalk.

It's not too late to turn this whole situation around,just put in effort and if necessary copy other's behavior.

You enjoy the job so you should try to keep it.



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20 Aug 2016, 8:47 am

I'm no legal expert, but reading your account of how you're being treated with contempt and loathing at your current job, seems like they are actually breaking some kind of discrimination law, because they are treating you badly because of traits you have which are manifestation of ASD in you. While not all people with an ASD have a "thin skin" or can get triggered into extreme loss of performance by a bad experience (everyone on the spectrum is not the same), it seems to me that your boss telling you to "grow a thicker skin" while everyone around you is treating you like sh!t or saying they can't stand you -- these things are being said arising from things about you that are directly associated with traits and symptoms of your disability. And there are protections against people giving you sh!t for that.

You have told them from the start you have Asperger's and what it involves, and how it affects your coping skills. Yet they are saying things like training you "pisses me off"?

If they were complaining that someone wheelchair-bound or with some other PHYSICAL disability "is always in the way" or "doesn't move across the room fast enough when I need them over here," they'd be had up in court for bad treatment of a disabled person, and discrimination against that person's challenges.

At the very least, their behavior toward you is appalling. They are failing to accomodate your special needs even though it can be argued that yours are not all that more special other than simply being treated with some respect and patience.

You're in what can be termed a hostile work environment. Really I'm shocked and sad at what you describe. You may not want to rock any boats, but I honestly think these people could theoretically be hauled up for their angry, impatient and contemptuous treatment of you. You are a person with an ASD now being triggered daily in your workplace due to people there telling you to stop "making excuses."

Workplaces are supposed to make reasonable accomodations, one of those ought to be at least a baseline level of decency and patience, just to start with.

I'm not trying to say we're all hothouse flowers and all our work situations people need to tip toe around our every emotional need -- but I am saying that these people aren't even giving you the most basic bit of patience for who you are or even how best to train you.

I'm really sorry you are in that situation at work, nobody should have to put up with how they are being toward you.

As for jobs that involve less to no interaction -- I've heard a lot about data entry positions being more ideal for people on the spectrum who want less contact with co-workers and bosses.

There is also self employment in a trade, although not everyone fancies becoming a plumber or cleaning person, I totally get that. But it's one route toward controlling a lot of what happens in your day and who it is you're dealing with.

Web design, e-bay selling, work from home positions in customer service where everything you say is mostly a learned script (can still be stressful but not as bad as eight hours with the same mean person).


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If you have a problem with something I post, something I believe, something I do or say, something in my sig, or something I am stupid enough to share that I'm struggling with and being caused pain by -- TELL ME TO MY FACE so that I can defend myself, instead of see you make a mockery of or a dig about it later.

On the other hand, friends will never need an explanation, and enemies bent on disliking me will never accept one.

ASD Level 1, PTSD. Plus anxiety with panic attacks, mild sub-clinical situational depression -- and a massive case of sheer freakin' BURNOUT.

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RnzWithSizzors33
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24 Aug 2016, 6:08 pm

Thanks, all.

BTDT, unfortunately, there is no case like that, where there are patients they don't want, and when I try to help with anything, they are absolutely hateful, and tell me to just get out of their way. :(

Slenkar, I have tried to engage in small talk and they just sneer at me and tell me to quit talking and do my work, even when we are on break. They are just nasty with me. :(

BirdInFlight, I have told them about my Asperger's, but I don't think they believe me, and I think that is because of a general lack of knowledge, and understanding about it. I think to them, someone on the spectrum appears "retarded" in some way, and I don't think they can wrap their heads around one who looks normal, and functions with normal intellect. The trouble I have had is that because they don't understand, they therefore do not tolerate when I have trouble. So it basically feels like I just go in every day, and just leave a trail of p!ssed off coworkers in my wake. :(



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25 Aug 2016, 5:11 am

That can be a common problem, yes, the whole thing about what's termed "high functioning" people on the autism spectrum not being believed about their diagnosis, because the general public (ie, your co-workers and bosses) aren't aware that there are different levels.

Very often, there is still a belief that the only autism there is looks like the type portrayed in the movie "Rainman", and if you're not like that character, some people find it hard to believe you too have autism. Walking, talking, working and intellectually "normal" people can sometimes face disbelief.

Would it be comfortable or possible for you to bring your diagnostic report to your boss?

Seeing something literally on paper might be the only way to change this person's mindset about the fact that you do function and operate differently and that some things might be strengths while other things might need for you and them to find alternative ways to achieve good functioning in your work.

I have a multiple-page report that gets a bit detailed and intimate to just show around, so I wouldn't bring that to show, but I was also given a "cover letter" that can be shown if necessary, which is letterheaded, signed, and just stating my diagnosis. If you have something similar in the form of a diagnosis in written form, seeing that might help your boss get a different perspective, believe it's real, and if he or she does, that word can spread downward to the co-workers too, ideally.

It does seem like nobody is taking your challenges seriously or as a real thing for you, and maybe the piece of paper might alter that feeling, I don't know.


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If you have a problem with something I post, something I believe, something I do or say, something in my sig, or something I am stupid enough to share that I'm struggling with and being caused pain by -- TELL ME TO MY FACE so that I can defend myself, instead of see you make a mockery of or a dig about it later.

On the other hand, friends will never need an explanation, and enemies bent on disliking me will never accept one.

ASD Level 1, PTSD. Plus anxiety with panic attacks, mild sub-clinical situational depression -- and a massive case of sheer freakin' BURNOUT.

~ ~ ~


underwater
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25 Aug 2016, 6:03 am

This really looks like material for a lawsuit, depending on where you live. If that is an option, I would consider starting to write a log and to consult with your doctor. It's so blatant.


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25 Aug 2016, 6:30 am

To underwater -- I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels that way about this. I too feel that this occupies lawsuit territory or at least is crossing legal lines in terms of how a person with ASD is treated in the workplace.

The reason I believe this is because
1) this person has an ASD, which in practical terms affects the manner in which she does her job and the manner in which she even learns or takes instruction within her job -- yet...

2) ...the people in her work environment are treating her with blatant impatience and contempt for what they perceive as shortcomings.

They are despising and thinking a moron, someone with autism. There are laws in place to protect against exactly this atmosphere created in a workplace.

I suggested this upthread, I'm glad someone else thinks this too.


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If you have a problem with something I post, something I believe, something I do or say, something in my sig, or something I am stupid enough to share that I'm struggling with and being caused pain by -- TELL ME TO MY FACE so that I can defend myself, instead of see you make a mockery of or a dig about it later.

On the other hand, friends will never need an explanation, and enemies bent on disliking me will never accept one.

ASD Level 1, PTSD. Plus anxiety with panic attacks, mild sub-clinical situational depression -- and a massive case of sheer freakin' BURNOUT.

~ ~ ~


Alexanderplatz
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25 Aug 2016, 7:37 am

I'm 60 now, wasn't diagnosed until 2 years ago and live in England.

What is described in the op is very familiar to me as standard workplace persecutory sub culture, and the main difference with me is that I generally last only 3 months. In my experience, i.e. low grade underemployability, most workplaces blatantly break the law as a matter of course.

I'd go for the janitor that says nothing option.



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25 Aug 2016, 8:07 am

Yes, unfortunately this used to be "standard" stuff I experienced in UK workplaces too, sad to say, and I too lasted about three months tops in these situations.

But, these days, there are laws in place, even in the UK, for this type of thing, particularly in regard to someone with an ASD, which is classed as a disability. They should no longer be allowed to get away with this brand of insidious abuse anymore, because that's pretty much what it is.

I did find, personally, that the only way to succeed in work was to become self employed in a trade that doesn't involve all that much interaction even with the person I'm working for. But it's a shame that it has to come to that -- being driven out, by any other name, from ordinary employment situations.


_________________
~ ~ ~

If you have a problem with something I post, something I believe, something I do or say, something in my sig, or something I am stupid enough to share that I'm struggling with and being caused pain by -- TELL ME TO MY FACE so that I can defend myself, instead of see you make a mockery of or a dig about it later.

On the other hand, friends will never need an explanation, and enemies bent on disliking me will never accept one.

ASD Level 1, PTSD. Plus anxiety with panic attacks, mild sub-clinical situational depression -- and a massive case of sheer freakin' BURNOUT.

~ ~ ~


PuzzlePieces1
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27 Aug 2016, 2:12 pm

I am about the same age as you although I wasn't officially diagnosed until the age of 30, because Aspergers Syndrome as a disorder was not initially clinically described until I was in high school. When I was a child, my parents were told that I had an "auditory processing problem", when really my prattling on about things no one else cared about was simply my autism.

Like you, I have a lot of trouble finding and holding onto jobs. I have a Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree and two certificates in teaching, yet I have trouble getting work and not getting fired because my interpersonal skills are poor and will always be substandard. At my last job, I was mercilessly harassing by another teacher I worked with who even went so far as to get the kids to harass me as well. I reported her to Human Resources for it and it eventually stopped, but it was a really difficult situation to deal with.

If I could do everything over again -- and if I knew my diagnosis when I was younger -- I would have gone into information technology. IT professionals work with computers all day and have very little interpersonal interaction in the workplace. That sounds so peaceful to me. People don't care if you don't small talk as an IT professional, because you are the only person around who knows how to fix their computer.

Just some food for thought.



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03 Sep 2016, 3:02 am

I feel you.
Your story is nearly identical to what I've been through.
Keep in mind that most people aren't really interested in others, they are shallow. The more indifferent you are to them, the cooler they will think you are. Girls will think you are mysterious. Guys will think you are loaded with confidence, say little, say it only when necessary.

As for being manipulated, look up Sociopathy criteria, see some of their tactics, and learn to recognise the signs.

"I caught wind of a little bet my coworkers had going, so see how long it would take me to quit - for the record, I outlasted every one of them."
See YOU ARE AWESOME, tougher than them.

Yep, you have to get out, they have a clique, and you're not in it.
It's a dog pack. Get out now, just quit, you will be far happier.
If you like you can get compensation for workplace harassment. They probably want to fire you but are afraid of a claim of unfair dismissal.
Get a recorder and record the harassment you face.
Knowing what I know now I would have quit a job in 6months, rather than stay 3 years. And another that I stayed in for over 2 years I wouldn't have even started!

No, I've recently come to the conclusion that working with others is nearly impossible.
You must start your own business, or come up with ideas to patent.



RnzWithSizzors33
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03 Sep 2016, 12:14 pm

Thanks, all. Update: I finally had enough, and I put in my notice. My last day is this coming Wednesday. But the thing is, I did it without lining up another job first. A bold move on my part, since it is very unlike me to jump without a safety net. But at the same time, I have never felt more free and giddy in my life. I just want to roll around in the freedom for awhile, and be ridiculous about it, but I know I have to be an adult again at some point. :nerdy: Can't believe how liberating it was, though. Makes the kid in me want to start jobs, just so I can quit them without lining something else up first. Silly, and I never really would, but it is a good feeling. :D



slenkar
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08 Sep 2016, 9:09 pm

It's sad that you had to lose a job but it's good you got out of that situation



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21 Sep 2016, 2:25 am

What are the things you do, or don't do, that seem to cause all of these people to dislike you?

It's important to identify that common factor. I used to be a person of few words on the job, however I came to realize that those around me either perceived this as arrogant, or felt a lack of feedback in work interactions on my part.

In other words, I was operating like a machine which had been given commands, but had no status indicators, and NTs need some type of confirmation that you have an internal thought process going on, and are on the same page as they are.

When they were not getting indicators from me, they were left to speculate, and that's never a good thing.