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hannahjrob
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06 Aug 2017, 2:03 am

A little background info: I'm a 25-year-old female, and I have suspected that I may be on the spectrum for a few years now. I always felt like I was a little weird and different, but only recently has it started to cause issues. When I was a child and even a teenager, I really didn't have issues and nobody ever really thought that anything was wrong with me. Around the time I was in 7th or 8th grade, I started to kind of feel like I was really behind a lot of my peers socially. At the time, I just thought I was weird or immature. Throughout middle and high school, I really didn't fit in with most kids, but I kind of just stayed in my own little bubble where I either kept to myself, or I hung out with the few friends that I did have, and I was okay with that. In 9th grade, I was tested for learning disabilities, because I felt like I often had trouble with reading comprehension and especially with auditory processing. The school psychologist did my evaluation. She concluded that I didn't have a learning disability. The results clearly showed that I scored weaker on auditory tasks. I also remember failing miserably at some task where she had me put together pieces of something. But the scores weren't bad enough for me to be diagnosed with a learning disability (and I did get pretty good grades throughout school - mostly A's and B's with just the occasional C). But of course, I know that ASD isn't considered a learning disability, and I definitely wasn't being evaluated for any kind of ASD at the time.

But anyway, as an adult, I have just found that my anxiety seems to be getting much worse, and I am just having a lot of difficulty trying to figure out what I should do career-wise. I need to have a good, stable job, and be able to move out of my parents' house and live a comfortable life (I don't care about being rich or anything, but obviously I don't want to have to worry about not being able to pay my bills either). I have interests and "obsessions" like a lot of ASD people say they do, but my problem seems to be that none of them are really useful or have a specific career tied to it. I do love animals and I am actually a certified service dog trainer with an Associate's degree, but there are very few job opportunities since most places that train service dogs are non-profit and rely on volunteers, and even the ones who do have employees still tend to not pay very much at all. I ended up going back to school for a teaching degree, but I honestly have really not been enjoying it and really doubt that I'd be a good teacher. I started out majoring in Spanish (since I was very good at it in high school and also had a special interest in Spanish culture) and was going to get a teaching certification (which had to be secondary since most places only teach foreign language in middle/high school) but I knew I'd never make it as a secondary teacher. I figured I'd at least be more comfortable with younger kids, so I switched to elementary education, but again, I feel like it was the wrong decision. I have done some field experience in school settings, and yes, I like the kids and most of them are a joy to be around, but I just feel like I can't cope with the lesson planning and the adults. I never connect with any of the cooperating teachers I work with. I still feel so socially immature and and I feel more like I'm one of the kids when I'm around teachers! I also don't know how I'd ever deal with all the parents (especially back to school night) and being observed by the principal. I actually just had to teach my first lesson recently with staff from my unversity observing me. It was honestly the most awful and nerve-racking thing I've had to do in a long time and I just couldn't cope. I didn't get very good feedback on the lesson either. I was honestly so nervous and felt like I was going to throw up, so I was just trying to get through it so I could get to the bathroom on time. The professor observing me noted how I needed to do better engaging the students, and how there were some students not paying attention but that I didn't employ any classroom management techniques to deal with this. I do feel like I'd probably have bad classroom management skills even when I'm not under pressure like that. I've realized that I'm just not good at multitasking and keeping track of so much at once, and I really don't think I can keep track of 30 kids at once on my own. And I know kids, as sweet as they are, will take advantage of you if they see that you're not really with it. There are times that I think maybe I could at least be an ELL teacher (English language learners, which is actually my minor) because it's more specialized, and usually that means you're just pulling kids from their classrooms and working with them one-on-one to teach them English. But I still wonder if I'd really be good at coming up with good lessons and good ways to teach them. There's also no guarantee I could just find a job as an ELL teacher that fast, which means I'd have to just take a regular classroom job, which terrifies me. I'm also set to do student teaching (in a regular classroom) in the spring, and that terrifies me too. I'm honestly mostly dreading it. If I can't even make it through that, I can't be any kind of teacher (classroom or ELL).

Also, I've been working at a restaurant while going to school, and surprisingly, I really have come to enjoy the job. I've gotten better at the social aspect than I thought I would ever be (I actually work front of house so I interact with customers a lot). And I'm honestly so much happier at work than I am at school, or sitting at home and writing lesson plans and doing other schoolwork. But realistically, I can't spend the rest of my life working part-time and earning $8.50 an hour, so the only way I could keep doing this is if I moved up to management. I don't know how easy that would be, or how long it would take (it could be years, because first you have to be a "shift leader" which is still part-time and hardly pays anything, then you can move up to assistant manager and general manager). And I also would kind of doubt myself as a restauraunt manager. Just like with teaching, you have to keep track of so much and you do have to be observed sometimes when someone from corporate visits. Even though I deal with customers and coworkers okay right now, I'd still worry that I'd be too shy and socially awkward to actually be in a management position.

I just have NO IDEA what to do with my life. Again, I have interests, but I don't feel like I have any special skills that would help me with a job/career. With pretty much any career I think of, I just start thinking of all of the social aspects, and every little thing that could go wrong or could be extremely stressful, and I feel like I wouldn't be good enough to do it. I just worry so much now that I'll never figure out what to do and I'll have a horrible life with no goals or ambitions. I just get so depressed and anxious sometimes. I wouldn't say that I'm suicidal, because I don't want to die and would never kill myself, but sometimes I just feel like there's no point to my life and I feel like it would be better if I wasn't here, or at least if I was just a different person.

Also, some traits that I have, and have always had since I was young (that seem to be ASD traits) include:

-Generally not very good in social situations and tend to be anxious when I'm in them. I have difficulty making eye contact and reading people's body language, and I just don't know how to handle a lot of social situations. I'm not very good at small talk, and often don't know how to keep a converstation going. I often don't understand jokes, or I will think someone is being serious when they're actually joking/being sarcastic. I don't really know to to comfort someone or show empathy (even though I do FEEL it) if they're upset. I generally don't have an easy time making friends...since I was a kid, I've always just had just a few close friends. Actually, all of my closest friends now are friends I have had since I was a kid. I really haven't made any new friends as an adult, unless you count a few coworkers (and while I'm comfortable and friendly with them, I still wouldn't say they are SUPER close friends) and my boyfriend (who I think also may have ASD, but I won't get into that now). I definitely would rather just chill and hang out with my close friends, rather than go to a party or large social gathering.

-Not good with motor skills. I remember having trouble learning to tie shoes and ride a bike when I was a kid. Even as an adult I have trouble doing simple tasks like unlocking doors, or doing things that involve multiple steps, like putting something together or folding something a certain way (for example, trying to fold a flattened box, or doing some school activity that where you have to fold the paper in a specific way). I tend to be clumsy and get in people's way without meaning to. I've always been awful at sports. I can never understand or remember all the rules in a game.

-Fascination with numbers, particularly dates (ironically, I've never been very good at math, but I do like to just memorize sequences of numbers, especially in the form of dates. I've also memorized the birth date of pretty much every person I've come across who has told me. I also know the birth dates of all kinds of random celebrities and historical figures).

-I will often become obsessed with certain people/places/things/topics and will spend a lot of my time thinking about them, researching them, or categorizing information about them. It will typically not last more than a few months before I move on to something else. Although there are definitely some topics that I stay interested and might return to later. I'll often listen to the same songs, or watch clips from the same movies/shows over and over again for awhile.

-I have some stimming behaviors. Grinding/clanking my teeth, pressing the back of my teeth against my lips, and moving my fingers (kind of similar to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU9jz3AtYFs) are the main ones. Also, when I'm reading something, I have to tap the words as I read to really enjoy it or feel like I'm actually comprehending. I'm able to do all these things subtly enough in public to where people don't really notice.

-I'm in my own world a lot. I love to go on walks, because I just zone out and pretend I'm in another world. I make up so many random fantasies in my head and I feel like I'm actually in them. I also do this at other times, sometimes even while I'm at work, but of course I don't do it to the point that I'm so distracted that I can't do my job correctly.

-Again, I have never been an auditory learner. I get overwhelmed and shut down if someone gives me too many verbal directions at a time. I'll also be unlikely to remember something I hear, as opposed to something I read or see.

-I took the AQ test and scored 36 out of 50. It said that scores above 32 indicate that it's likely you are on the spectrum.

There may be a few more, but I won't keep rambling. Those are the main ones I can think of off the top of my head. I completely understand that no one here is qualified to diagnose me, but based on all of this, do you think it is worth seeking one from a professional? At this point, I just really feel like I need help getting my anxiety and lack of self-confidence under control, and I really need help figuring out a career that would really be good for me. Sorry this was so long! I was just trying to include as much relevant information as I could.



1Biggles1
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06 Aug 2017, 2:41 am

Spot the aspie! :lol:

Welcome fellow cosmonaut :)

Thank you for taking the time to write such a lengthy introduction :)

Well, i am no professional but you certainly do seem to fit the pot so to speak... Finding out a little later in life can be a huge relief for many, especially when they have always know they are a little different. It all depends if you feel you need an official diagnosis.. If you are coping ok, then likely no need. However it does seem like over time you are becoming more self aware of many things and this can hit you like a sledgehammer a few years down the track! You seem to be articulating many of the things i was experiencing at your age.. Maybe do some more reading about the spectrum especially the blogs, videos aimed at female aspies as there is a bit of a difference in how the spectrum presents itself between the sexes. Also a huge must. Make damn sure you see a specialist on the spectrum! That i cannot emphasis strongly enough. You have obviously done tremendously well with creating your own natural coping mechanisms and your average NT specialist may not see the subtleties that a AS specialist will more likely detect...

Maybe even print out what you have written here and present it to your doctor...
If you do get the assessment and you are on the spectrum then expect a little negativity from those that dont understand the spectrum. Might be wise to only tell people on a need to know basis..

As far as jobs go. There are aspie friendly jobs out there. You seem to like animals, any thoughts of starting your own dog grooming and walking service? Many people have made a very good living from such an area and aspies tend to have a good understanding of doggy language better than human body language...

You are obviously very bright as many on the spectrum are. Use that to your advantage. One must try and remove the brain wash of social expectations and guide yourself down the path that suits your aspie capabilities not what other people expect of you or you will likely be prone to severe burnout a few years down the track..

You show the symptoms of Sensory Processing issues as well as Executable issues with anxiety and maybe a little depression... Maybe a bit of ADD thrown into the mix, which again is quit common on the spectrum.. Again these are just my own observations and nothing more :)

Maybe the sooner you can find out the sooner you can use the right tools that are better suited for you. You will in time find many things about yourself of which you felt common place only to find they tend to be very much spectrum orientated.

As i have mentioned in past, it is hard to know the answers when one doesn't know the questions to ask... From here on you will start to be able to ask those questions and the answers will start coming ;)
Well done for taking that first step!! ! You have come to the right place :)

Best of luck and welcome to the alien haven ;)

(edit: ahh, i see you are already accustomed to the forum :) Also see you asked a similar question some time ago.. Maybe you already know you wish to get a more definitive answer ;) )



IstominFan
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06 Aug 2017, 6:26 am

Hannah,

You are a lot like me. I got good grades in school, but I was socially awkward. I also had a special in interest in Spanish culture when I was in high school. My difficulties are similar to yours. Small tasks like the ones you describe are difficult for me, too.

My AS score was 28, putting me in between NT and AS, but I have some of the key indicators.



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07 Aug 2017, 11:12 am

If you live in Canada or the US, you can use psychologytoday's website to find a psychologist in your area that specializes in assessing adults on the autism spectrum. Preferably a neuropsychologist but a clinical psychologist will do as well if they specialize in this area. Don't expect just any ordinary Jo Blow doctor or psychiatrist to understand autism and be qualified to assess you.

Just call around and ask of they specialize or have specific experience assessing adults with autism including females as they tend to present differently than males and can be overlooked though from what you have written your autistic traits seem rather obvious.

As was already mentioned in this thread, print off what you wrote here and bring it your assessment. You can't possibly expect to get any understanding or accommodations about your autism without a formal diagnosis whether you are seeking this for your personal relationships or for school or from your current or future employers. An autism diagnosis may also help you and others close to you better understand yourself and provide validation.


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Your neurodiverse score: 150 of 200
Your neurotypical score: 51 of 200

officially diagnosed with Asperger's as of 09/11/15

Reassessed 04/11/16
DSM-V: ASD level 2 with Social Communication Severity: level 2, Restrictive Repetitve Behaviour: level 2

ADOS-2 classification: Autism


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07 Aug 2017, 11:45 am

Welcome to Wrong Planet.

As you an adult now there are more responsibilities and expectations which can increase existing traits be it Autism or anything else into things that impair your life. Anxiety is a common co occurring condition with autism.

Do you have any sensory issues with thing such as touch, taste, smell, noise? Certainly, there is a lot of sensory bombardment in a school environment. People sometimes are not aware of sensory problems because they wrongly assume everybody else is also experiencing this.

I agree with what has been said by the posters above.


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nephets
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07 Aug 2017, 1:52 pm

You sound like an Aspie to me. I'm a 46 year old who got the diagnosis at 43, at which point I was not surprised, but was relieved. I would recommend it. Good luck with the job hunting.



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07 Aug 2017, 5:12 pm

I concur with the others that it would be worth it to seek a professional assessment, and to make sure that it is from someone who is qualified to assess ASD. I was in a similar position to you and just received an official diagnosis about a month ago. You're much younger than me and still in a position to guide your future decisions based on the knowledge.

I only scanned all that you wrote, but picked up that you have been working on education and have considered ESL - have you thought about going into college level? I teach ESL at a university, and find that while taxing, it is manageable (but don't think I would be able to survive at all in a K-12 environment). University classes are generally smaller, the contact hours much less, the admin/other stuff much less, and students much better behaved.



kdm1984
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19 Sep 2017, 11:01 pm

Hi Hannah. I saw your recent post about school, and some of your other posts (including this one), and much of what you write reminds me of myself: very analytic, excelling at languages, good at school, and yet problems following complicated directions, some degree of dyspraxia, executive function issues, etc.

You do seem to have more employment success than I've had. And you haven't mentioned meltdowns, to my knowledge. If you also have meltdowns over conflicts, or environments that tax your executive functioning, or if your symptoms have (or begin to) affect employment/relationships to a significant degree, then I strongly recommend you get a diagnosis -- not necessarily to disclose to others (I don't recommend this -- it caused problems at my last job), but to at least give you some peace of mind, and explanation for your "quirks," as some have termed them to you. The world will only get more complicated and involved as you get older. I wasn't diagnosed until age 29! I spent several years contemplating it. Sure enough, I was given a diagnosis - and I'm not only autistic, I'm a level 2 autistic! It's helped explain a lot.

Anyway, just was compelled to respond to your post, because I see a lot of myself in you, and I want to spare you some potential disappointment you might come across in your late twenties or early thirties (I'm almost 33).