Positive experiences 'coming out' as an Aspie?

Page 1 of 2 [ 24 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

HPLFan
Butterfly
Butterfly

Joined: 14 Jun 2017
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Posts: 12

08 Oct 2019, 4:46 pm

I was diagnosed about 2 years ago now, married, with a child. I've been working at the same place for 3 years, highly praised, very well thought of by my peers and supervisors. But I've also been learning a lot more about Aspergers and coming to accept it more myself.

Today, I was talking with one of the ladies I work with about her adult child who she can't get out of the basement. We'd discussed her before and this time, when she was describing her traits, I asked if she had ever been diagnosed as being on the spectrum. My co-worker said she hadn't, but she had suspicions one of her other children had autistic traits. While we were talking, I came to realize that my co-worker didn't really understand autism, and she was sort of dismissing it as a possibility. I told her that some of what she was describing sounded very familiar, and that I had been diagnosed with high functioning autism myself, and had gone through many of the things she was listing.

She was obviously a bit surprised (so was I), and then started to take the suggestion more seriously. By the end of the conversation, she seemed open to a new world where she might be able to encourage her daughter to put her special interests to work for her, and work through some of the struggles she'd had (or at least be understood by her family).

It felt really good.. until I was back in my office, alone, and thinking about what I'd just told her. Then I started (and have been for the last several hours) worrying about the potential impact this might have on my employment. I work in an advisory and administrative position at a university, and my co-worker is one of the faculty members. While I had asked her to keep it confidential, the worry that it might get out (combined with my desire to let people know - aside from my wife, less than 5 people in the world are aware), is really nagging at me.

I would appreciate it if people can tell me some of their positive experiences of letting people know they're on the spectrum. Of it being okay, and their world not crashing down on them because everyone now knows they're putting on a 'normal' face to get by.

Or tell me my worries are right and I'll be unemployed and homeless by the end of the week if I tell anyone else.

But I'd rather it be the former. Thanks in advance.



kraftiekortie
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Feb 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 62,440
Location: Queens, NYC

08 Oct 2019, 8:25 pm

This is a good idea for a thread.

But my experience----is that I "came out" as an evidently autistic person when I was a toddler.



SharonB
Velociraptor
Velociraptor

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 479

08 Oct 2019, 10:37 pm

I do not have enough experience yet to say positive or negative, but will take this opportunity to relate my experiences so far.

I am a similar age as you and have outright told my ASD suspicions (assessment scheduled later this month) to two of my closest co-workers and three work-friends. I have obliquely suggested it to two not-so-close co-workers.

Case Study: Last month a coworker had dropped his daughter off at college and was concerned about her, he mentioned a few things about her that resonated with me, I said I related and suggested other things about her ---- he said I nailed it. I suggested he look into EF and ASD. I am in an open office configuration. So far nothing. I'm going to go with that in the long run it's positive: that my co-worker will better support his daughter and that if my discriminatory big boss hears about me, I'll be long gone (or he'll unwittingly provide evidence for a lawsuit).

Many years ago when I was undiagnosed and didn't know about ASD, a co-worker mentioned he was considering that he had Asperger's. Perhaps we (his closest co-workers) all simply nodded and resumed lunch. He was fairly stereotypical (flat affect, monotone, photographic memory). I even forgot about it, so assume we didn't discuss it. Recently a co-worker reminded me about that when I mentioned my suspicions about myself.

For me it's all a bit moot, b/c diagnosed or not, I am being treated poorly by the new mgmt., so need to get out. One sign of a good workplace is folks respecting folks for who they are and that individual accommodations are made simply b/c we are individuals (with or without diagnosis). Just saying.



cberg
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 31 Dec 2011
Gender: Male
Posts: 9,972
Location: Boulder CO

08 Oct 2019, 10:37 pm

I have no clue whatsoever to be honest. I'm just unsure of what I can learn from any of this in retrospect. I just don't know if the times I was outed represented anything beneficial to me. I can't say what it means.


_________________
"Standing on a well-chilled cinder, we see the fading of the suns, and try to recall the vanished brilliance of the origin of the worlds."
-Georges Lemaitre
"I fly through hyperspace, in my green computer interface"
-Gem Tos :mrgreen:


Joe90
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Gender: Female
Posts: 16,685
Location: Maidstone, UK

09 Oct 2019, 12:45 am

I don't think they will fire you for having Asperger's. You're still the same person as you were before you said you have it. If they did, then that would be discrimination and won't look good on their part. The only reason I haven't told anyone at my work I have Asperger's is because I feel embarrassed about it and worry that I will be viewed in a different way socially. But I know that if I did have the balls to come out about it the company won't fire me for it. They may fire me if I took illegal drugs and they found out about it, but not for having a disability that hasn't yet interfered with my work (and I don't think it ever will where I work). And even if my disability did interfere with my work I still don't think they would fire me unless I became dangerous or something (which wouldn't ever happen). :lol:

But I understand why you'd worry. I often say things then worry later if it will have a negative affect. But I can safely say that they will not suddenly fire you for having a mild neurological disability. :)


_________________
Female
Aged 29
On antidepressants
Diagnosed with AS, ADHD and anxiety disorder


magz
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 1 Jun 2017
Age: 34
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,458
Location: Poland

09 Oct 2019, 1:57 am

In general, the rule I've observed is:

1. People react negatively when you try to explain that you can't do something / require something extra / need them to stop doing something / etc. because - you give them the news - you have ASD. They typically freak out then.
It's much better in such case to give just one, relevant trait like - please turn the music down, I'm very sensitive to sound, it's hurting me. Giving out the trait but not the package.

2. People react positively if you come out in a comfortable, neutral situation that doesn't require anything from them.
I recently came out to another mother in a children hospital my kid was observed for an unrelated issue of her. I didn't remember how the conversation turned that way but after I told her my daughter is in the process of being diagnosed and my psychologist claims I have it too, she was mostly curious, trying to understand what it is like and relate it to a diagnosed boy from her daughter's class.


_________________
Keep calm and choose your battles carefully.


Raphael F
Sea Gull
Sea Gull

User avatar

Joined: 22 Aug 2019
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Posts: 215
Location: England

09 Oct 2019, 5:39 am

HPLFan wrote:
I've been working at the same place for 3 years, highly praised, very well thought of by my peers and supervisors.

This is not untypical of Asperger's, assuming the job happens to be a good fit with the stuff you're good at and the stuff you're less good at is not an impediment. Which is so in your case, it sounds like. I was well thought of as a Latin teacher in a girls' boarding school, maybe partly because who really expects a Latin teacher to be normal anyway?!


HPLFan wrote:
I started (and have been for the last several hours) worrying about the potential impact this might have on my employment. I work in an advisory and administrative position at a university, and my co-worker is one of the faculty members. While I had asked her to keep it confidential, the worry that it might get out (combined with my desire to let people know - aside from my wife, less than 5 people in the world are aware), is really nagging at me.

In England it would be absolutely illegal for someone to be fired because of a condition that's internationally recognized as a disability. There would be questions of "unfair dismissal", "discrimination" & yadda yadda yadda. Whether the law wherever you may be gives you any such rights, I of course cannot say, but an admin position at a university sounds like just the kind of job where Asperger's would be considered a superpower, not a reason to get rid of you! Neurotypicals can't do admin properly to save their freakin' lives, and in their world, someone who can be relied upon to do a decent job of admin is worshipped as a god. Plus, and at the risk of being slightly oversimplistic, is not a university largely populated by intelligent, enlightened, middle-class people who would be appalled at the idea of holding your disability against you?


HPLFan wrote:
I would appreciate it if people can tell me some of their positive experiences of letting people know they're on the spectrum.

Your very use of the phrase "coming out" hits the nail squarely and firmly on the head: getting my Asperger's diagnosis, albeit a somewhat exasperating 16 years after I first ventured to suggest it to my bone-idle psychiatrist, has proved to be one of THE most empowering and validating and affirming and enlightening experiences of my entire life; in fact, it's right up there with losing my virginity and passing my bus-driving test (both of which also came later than I would ideally have preferred, but never mind). I myself said: "Wow, this is what 'coming out' must feel like!" It took a few years for me to process the news and see just how and where and why the condition affected me; believing I had Asperger's for two decades previously was not the same as finally having it confirmed that I actually did have it, if you see what I mean.

Unfortunately, although lots of people have now heard of Asperger's as "a thing", they still don't tend to have much of a clue about it, and I have found that trying to explain it to them is invariably a waste of breath, even when they are intelligent and sincerely want to understand. Not even mental health professionals necessarily have much of a clue about Asperger's. But never mind: the diagnosis helps you to make sense of yourself and your relationship with the world, so what's not to like?!

Sometimes I'm reminded of the Basil Fawlty line: "It's all right, he's from Barcelona." Knowing that I officially have Asperger's sometimes helps me to live with people's adverse or baffled reaction to me being who and what I am: it isn't a licence to behave badly of course, but if for instance I want to take photographs of a bus, I no longer have to worry that people in the street are giving me funny looks; I'm not doing anybody any harm, it's just I am (as it were) from Barcelona, so that makes it perfectly O.K.


_________________
You can't be proud of being Neurodivergent, because it isn't something you've done: you can only be proud of not being ashamed. (paraphrasing Quentin Crisp)


Raphael F
Sea Gull
Sea Gull

User avatar

Joined: 22 Aug 2019
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Posts: 215
Location: England

09 Oct 2019, 9:23 am

Some more positives I thought of in the bath:

1. Twenty years ago, because of a lifelong history of anxiety and suicidal depression, I was very nearly disbarred from training as a teacher. If only we'd had the Asperger's diagnosis back then, my doctor and I could have pointed out that the underlying problem had been identified and appropriate coping mechanisms put in place, that the condition is regarded as a High-Functioning disorder, and that it would be discriminatory to prevent someone with a disability from going on a training course if he had the correct academic qualifications.

2. Having qualified, on three occasions I had to falsify my medical history in order to get teaching jobs, by failing to disclose all the depression and exhaustion etc. that I'd been diagnosed with since age 10. Again, if only I'd had the Asperger's diagnosis, there would have been no need to lie, because I'd have had no qualms about disclosing it (all the other stuff is easily accounted for by the sheer fact of the then undiagnosed A.S.D.) and it would have been illegal for a prospective employer to reject me because of a disability, and indeed I could have pointed out some of the ways in which Asperger's was actually an asset in the job.

3. In my final teaching post, although I was O.K. so far as teaching the actual kids went (good results, happy kids, pleased parents etc.), I was far from O.K. in relating to my Head of Department, who ultimately hounded me out of my job and brought my professional career to an end when I was only at the start of my 30s. If only I'd had the Asperger's diagnosis, the school, as my employer, would have been legally obliged to make "reasonable adjustments" for the documented disability I had. A teacher in a wheelchair cannot legally be humiliated or criticized by the Head of Department for being in a wheelchair, nor could he or she be reprimanded for failing to attend a meeting on the fifth floor of a building with no elevator. In my own case, this employer "making reasonable adjustments" for my disability would have included getting my Head of Department off my back and telling him not to be such an impossible arsehole to me every damned day! The subsequent years of self-loathing and depression and poverty could thus have been avoided, with the benefit of the Asperger's diagnosis.

4. About ten years ago the local authorities heard I had a history of depression, and said I was no longer fit to drive school buses because I'd be a danger to the children, especially if I forgot to take my medication. My doctor of course wrote at once to say I wasn't ON any freakin' medication! But the council took three months to think about it, during which time I missed much-needed opportunities of getting out of the house to drive a bus. If only we'd had the Asperger's diagnosis, my doctor and I could have pointed out the condition is actually categorized as a High-Functioning one, and we could have emphasized it was discriminatory of the authorities to say my disability made me unfit to be with children.

5. Fifteen years after I passed my bus driving test (first time round, too!), the authorities suddenly revoked my licence on grounds of my having Asperger's. My doctor was able at once to write and argue that someone whose Asperger's included a bus fixation was likely to take the driving of a bus pretty seriously, and he was also able to emphasize I was on no medication that could impair my judgement in any way: there is no medication for Asperger's! My doctor was also able, quite truthfully, to write (quote): Mr F. is a highly intelligent and articulate individual and the diagnosis of Asperger's has been helpful to him. I have seen him drive and indeed been driven by him and have no concerns at all about his concentration, attention to detail and capability behind the wheel. This immediately satisfied whichever unseen bureaucrat had evidently panicked when he or she saw the word "Asperger's", so I got my licence straight back (yippee!). On the one hand this is sadly illustrative of the general ignorance of what Asperger's is and what it may mean, but on the other hand, it illustrates again how having the diagnosis can actually allow you to repudiate people's objections and prove that you are not in fact a monster.

So all in all, I really have to say the letter from the mental health people which, albeit belatedly, confirmed that I have Asperger's is among my all-time favourite and most treasured pieces of paper in the whole history of stationery, and I only wish I could have had it 20 or 30 years sooner.


_________________
You can't be proud of being Neurodivergent, because it isn't something you've done: you can only be proud of not being ashamed. (paraphrasing Quentin Crisp)


kraftiekortie
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Feb 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 62,440
Location: Queens, NYC

09 Oct 2019, 9:26 am

It's terrible all this prejudice against people with Asperger's/autism.

I'm really sorry you had to go through all that hassle just to keep earning a living. I can feel the stress you were feeling then. It's not fair, really.

They would never revoke someone's driver's license in the US because of Asperger's.



SharonB
Velociraptor
Velociraptor

User avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Gender: Female
Posts: 479

09 Oct 2019, 11:20 am

@Rafeal, I really enjoyed your first post and your second post reminds me of some of my rough moments. Not ASD-related but similar in that folks often discriminate against others instead of educating themselves.

Although these were not ASD disclosures, they were probably ASD related: honest TMI.

#1 - I mentioned I was tested for TB and was dismissed from a contract position. I then mentioned I had contacted a lawyer (which I have done often enough) and I was reinstated and given me back pay. BTW my test came back negative and even if it had been positive there would have been no immediate risk to anyone else (I was testing for travel, not because I was symptomatic).

#2 - I was asked in a foster care Home Study if I hit my husband and of course I answered "yes" -- just the day before I had slapped him on his shoulder when he teased me. Anyhow - it got written up as "she slaps her husband" and the committee required I get a letter from my therapist to continue with the program. Embarrassing. Thankfully we went on to have a rewarding foster care experience.

I will disclose at work to my closest supporters. Probably not in general nor my detractors (my mgmt) - at least not until I've digested the anticipated diagnosis. Ironically through a series of acquisitions, I now work for the same company as #1 above. They did we wrong (then right) 25 years ago and now they are doing me wrong again... (with no right in sight).



kraftiekortie
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Feb 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 62,440
Location: Queens, NYC

09 Oct 2019, 11:47 am

I'm very careful about "disclosing."

As you can see, people often take it the wrong way.



Raphael F
Sea Gull
Sea Gull

User avatar

Joined: 22 Aug 2019
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Posts: 215
Location: England

09 Oct 2019, 12:07 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
It's terrible all this prejudice against people with Asperger's/autism.
Maybe not so much actual prejudice, or at least not active, intended, conscious prejudice; rather, good ole-fashioned ignorance and half-arsed misinformation. People have seen the movie Rain Man. People have vaguely heard in the media, in recent years, about Asperger's, e.g. the young computer hacker who was (or was nearly) extradited to the U.S. for breaking into the C.I.A. mainframe, not with a view to doing anything but merely from pure intellectual curiosity and because he could...! Or the unfortunate Elliot Rodger who, it seems to me, was driven out of his mind by the social isolation and marginalization at university that can go with the Asperger's territory, and who in consequence shot a load of innocent people before turning his gun upon himself. Without cannabis, I could have ended up as dangerously insane as he; I didn't kill anyone else, but I certainly tried to kill myself a time or two.

So on the one hand, having a formal professional diagnosis certainly has enabled me to make sense of a shedload of stuff, finally, and has tended to prove useful for many bureaucratic purposes and I only wish I'd had it sooner; but, on the other hand, although "coming out" as having Asperger's has done me no harm, it is not in many cases a magic bullet.


_________________
You can't be proud of being Neurodivergent, because it isn't something you've done: you can only be proud of not being ashamed. (paraphrasing Quentin Crisp)


kraftiekortie
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Feb 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 62,440
Location: Queens, NYC

09 Oct 2019, 12:12 pm

I agree. You've learned from your diagnosis.

Other people haven't, though.

You're right...it's not always "prejudice"----but an unintended ignorance.

The effects have been the same, though-----the hassle you experienced.



Raphael F
Sea Gull
Sea Gull

User avatar

Joined: 22 Aug 2019
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Posts: 215
Location: England

09 Oct 2019, 12:21 pm

SharonB wrote:
@Rafeal, I really enjoyed your first post
Why, thank you! We aim to please, dear madam. Albeit our failure rate is admittedly somewhat higher than we tend to wish...

SharonB wrote:
honest TMI
Is not this a very A.S.D. characteristic? It's certainly one that's got me into umpteen varieties of trouble over the years. I suppose the flip side of that coin is, some people are amused and amazed by the Asperger's capacity for coming right out and telling it like it is. So you are either incisive and perceptive and witty, or a dangerous and verbose arsehole, depending on your audience.

Good luck with Company No. 1. It sounds as though you may need it.

Getting back (vaguely, at least) to the OP, perhaps we can say "coming out" will be empowering and worthwhile in some contexts, yet the T.M.I. issue must not be forgotten and there could be times when a discreet silence would be more prudent than effusive over-sharing?


_________________
You can't be proud of being Neurodivergent, because it isn't something you've done: you can only be proud of not being ashamed. (paraphrasing Quentin Crisp)


IsabellaLinton
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 1 Nov 2017
Gender: Female
Posts: 25,697

09 Oct 2019, 12:24 pm

magz wrote:

People react negatively when you try to explain that you can't do something / require something extra / need them to stop doing something / etc. because - you give them the news - you have ASD. They typically freak out then. It's much better in such case to give just one, relevant trait like - please turn the music down, I'm very sensitive to sound, it's hurting me. Giving out the trait but not the package.

People react positively if you come out in a comfortable, neutral situation that doesn't require anything from them


I agree with Magz.

I was only identified as autistic last year, when I was no longer working because of trauma and burnout. I didn't need to disclose at work, because I wasn't working. Looking back, however, I can see that many of my autistic traits were noted in various evaluations and assessments, with constructive criticism (e.g., make more eye contact, don't fidget, be more visible in the workplace, be more sociable, don't burn out). I was always praised for my attention to detail and keen research skills.

Since diagnosis I've been mostly reclusive, but I've told a few people. Responses range from an awkward "Oh, OK .. " with no questions asked and no conversation in follow up, to "We're all on the spectrum somewhere ..." (see thread by EDGAR_ 54), to "I think I'm autistic too!" from two people: someone who most decidedly is nowhere near any spectrum, and someone who could possibly be autistic. Ironically, that person who could be autistic doesn't know what autism is and they aren't interested in my characteristics, in helping me, or in having themselves tested. They said "I think I'm autistic too!" as a catch-phrase without realising the irony. This person gets frustrated by my sensory issues and my stims, and wants me to get therapy so it will all stop for their convenience. They don't even understand that these are autistic behaviours, or that they have some of the same behaviours themselves.

I told a few doctors who made condescending comments like "You must be high functioning!" as if they dismissed my struggles.

I can't think of a single person I've told who knew enough about autism who was able to receive the information in a constructive way to support me, or make me feel heard and validated. My own mother calls autistic people retarded and confuses autism with Downs Syndrome, so I didn't even bother to tell her.