What challenges have you had with work? And what has helped?

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PheonixDove
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29 Jun 2022, 7:40 am

I'll soon be starting a new job. For context, I haven't worked full time since before I went through university to do my degree. I think my main challenges will be the social aspect of my job, and also the "exhaustion" of working long hours and communicating with people for long hours. That being said, I have no idea exactly what my job will entail yet (I'll be working as a mechanical engineer being trained from the ground up, pretty much).

I'm interested in what challenges people here have faced in work due to their ASD, and what has helped them cope with/overcome those challenges.



stratozyck
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29 Jun 2022, 9:00 am

Congrats! You just did the single most important thing you can do in adult life, become financially independent!

You should be proud of yourself. I got my first career job 8 years ago and it was the single largest event in my life that enabled everything that came after it.

I work in a job that is very autism friendly (not intentionally) in an industry that is very autistic unfriendly (again, not intentionally). Its a statistical audit type role (model validation) in banking. So the industry as a whole is full of Type A social personalities, they typically all have pictures on LinkedIn of themselves looking like they are in charge (arms crossed, looking at the camera confidently while standing up - everyone wants to be CEO).

So, when I started we all had to wear suits every day to work and that was more than annoying. I am not a good dresser and don't care about it - but on the other hand at least suits are easy to figure out. They are difficult to maintain and a PITA to walk around in July in Georgia, USA.

Large banking (top 10 banks) have a lot of unwritten rules that once you figure out, its pretty easy. First is you never talk bad about anyone. Someone could come in, get drunk on the job and throw up all over the place and the worst you will hear anyone say is "ah yes, X had a difficult time adjusting and we had to move on, we wish them the best."

Everyone's pretty nice too, so what I learned is that you should always be positive when talking about others. When someone shows what they are doing to the team you always be positive about it, even in criticism.

I would also add that banking and large orgs in particularly really value consensus decision making. Getting everyone to agree is a big deal in my field because of the regulatory environment.

I don't think you will be working as much as you think. Yes, some jobs are 40+ hour jobs. But my field for me has been such that after 8 years, my ability to do it has increased faster than the pay raises. They won't give me more work because that would mean they would have to pay me more, but also there is this concept of "key man risk" so they intentionally do not max out everyone. They don't want one person taking on a lot of work and then making mistakes with it and getting us into regulatory trouble.

I would say that in my field, we have busy times and times where you go, "I don't know why I am even being paid."

Before work from home, I would have to actively try to stay awake at my cubicle at times. I used to have a cubicle in a section of the building where no one else was and I'd literally bring my personal laptop and play games in my cubicle some days. I did every project they asked of me and even took on an additional one when someone quit that year.

I would say to make an extra effort to adhere to workplace etiquette. My fear with social stuff has always been that I'd say the wrong thing and no one would forgive me and everyone would hate me. Its not a crazy fear - its happened multiple times in my life.

So, keep to these simple rules:

0. This rule is so important its rule 0. Do not gossip, ever. Be a gossip "heat sink." When people come to you with gossip, do not engage and do not repeat. Just smile and nod. It will happen. Gossip can turn a workplace toxic fast.
1. Reveal as little about your personal life as possible as default to all coworkers
2. Always be positive, say negative things in a positive way (say "we can improve this by..." instead of pointing out negatives of existing)
3. Never, never engage in a political or religious discussion
4. Learn to forget what colleagues and bosses say that is political/religious that offends you. Don't judge them, move on with it.

There can be exceptions, but its usually after you've known a coworker for a long time and can trust they aren't using what you are telling them against you. That happens!

I told a coworker once I am making a computer game (I did it!) and you know what he did? He went to our boss and said I was distracted and that he should be promoted over me for a new position.

Do not trust any coworker by default. I have seen so many backstabbers and people that seem like they are your friend but really they are trying to manipulate a situation.



kraftiekortie
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29 Jun 2022, 9:03 am

Congratulations on getting a job!

Yep, by and large, the above advice is good.



Joe90
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29 Jun 2022, 10:03 am

Probably just the pressure of being there and doing the work or else you'll have no money to live on. It helps make it less pressurising or stressful if you enjoy what you do and there aren't too many contradicting rules in place.


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29 Jun 2022, 10:46 am

PheonixDove wrote:
What challenges have you had with work? And what has helped?
• People taking credit for my work.  I now keep detailed notes on my activities regarding each project I am on, and place electronic "watermarks" on every document and drawing I share with others.

• People ignoring my warnings.  Again, I document these warnings and circulate them among other key employees.  Sooner or later, people get tired of hearing "I told you so" from me, or "What the hell were you thinking?" from their own supervisors.

• People encroaching upon my workspace.  I remove their project materials and place them back in their offices.  If they seem more like personal belongings, I take them down to HR's "Lost & Found" cabinet.

• People stealing my lunch.  A little Syrup of Ipecac mixed in with a decoy lunch works for me.  Not only do I find out the identity of the thief, but I can report my "suspicions" to HR (without mentioning the Ipecac) and let them handle it.

• Snowflakes and Bullies.  I stay away from both, whenever possible, and I report them when I have to.



IsabellaLinton
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29 Jun 2022, 10:57 am

- balancing work / home, especially as a single parent and someone who needed lots of downtime
- getting up at 4 a.m.
- thinking about work when I was home
- thinking about home when I was at work
- sensory bombardment including scent, light, noise, the texture of clothes
- having to socialise, read body language, make inferences, and determine boundaries
- being around people too often
- making small talk
- making big talk (presentations and input at meetings)
- uncertainty about how to communicate my needs in a professional way
- sexual harassment by a boss
- executive dysfunction and time management
- not having time or energy to pack a lunch (therefore, starving)
- loss of privacy (knowing people talked about me, which is only natural)
- not being allowed to go to the bathroom when needed (seriously, this happens)
- having to validate time off for mental / physical health reasons
- having to validate time off for my child's or parent's mental / physical health reasons
- anxiety
- depression
- phobias (I had to confront some at work)
- repression of stimming
- total burnout leading to a clinical nervous breakdown


What helped?

Leaving work on permanent disability.



Joe90
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29 Jun 2022, 11:16 am

IsabellaLinton, why do you write such good posts that are worded so clearly and I can relate to so much? :) :heart:

Quote:
the texture of clothes


Anyway, clothing is another factor. I'm very fussy when it comes to clothes, not always sensory-related either. I don't like wearing anything with buttons or collars. I don't know why most jobs that require uniform only like to provide polo shirts with the 3 buttons. Why not just the ordinary round-neck t-shirts?
And I didn't want to work anywhere where I have to wear formal clothes like in an office, because it's so hard to find appropriate formal clothes for women every day that is also comfortable. I find that a lot of women's formal clothes seem to have itchy tags that are hard to remove or are not comfortable, and because my feet are awkward I have to wear shoes that compromise the shape of my feet, like trainers (sneakers). And shorts seem to be inappropriate for women's formal wear and I don't like wearing skirts or dresses, so my legs would get hot in the summer.

If I did wind up somewhere where I had to wear formal clothes I'd just wear a suit and a tie like a man. So much easier and more comfortable. I like ties.


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29 Jun 2022, 11:43 am

Stratozyck pretty much nailed it if you're working in an office-type workplace.

The hardest part was being around the most annoying people I've ever had to deal with outside of high school for 8-hours a day. NTs say a lot of really misguided, ignorant things that I REALLY wanted to jump in and correct, but I learned to save my venting for the internet or when I got home.

What helped me was:
* Taking remote work whenever possible.
* Using headphones if they're allowed at your workstation; however, sometimes people will get upset that you're "ignoring" them by listening to music.
* Make the person above you feel like they're the smartest person on the planet and all their ideas are freaking amazing.
* Don't give improvement advice unless you're working on a new project where that advice is actually needed. In areas where there's already established policy or protocol, just keep your mouth shut.


stratozyck wrote:
So, keep to these simple rules:

0. This rule is so important its rule 0. Do not gossip, ever. Be a gossip "heat sink." When people come to you with gossip, do not engage and do not repeat. Just smile and nod. It will happen. Gossip can turn a workplace toxic fast.
1. Reveal as little about your personal life as possible as default to all coworkers
2. Always be positive, say negative things in a positive way (say "we can improve this by..." instead of pointing out negatives of existing)
3. Never, never engage in a political or religious discussion
4. Learn to forget what colleagues and bosses say that is political/religious that offends you. Don't judge them, move on with it.
5. Do not trust any coworker by default. I have seen so many backstabbers and people that seem like they are your friend but really they are trying to manipulate a situation.



IsabellaLinton
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29 Jun 2022, 12:13 pm

Joe90 wrote:
IsabellaLinton, why do you write such good posts that are worded so clearly and I can relate to so much? :) :heart:

Quote:
the texture of clothes


Anyway, clothing is another factor.


I didn’t have a uniform but we had dress requirements:

Having to wear a bra.
Back then they had underwire.
My straps would always be falling down.
I used to rip mine off in the car before driving home.

We weren’t allowed open-toe sandals or shoes.

Skirts required pantyhose even in the summer.

We had to dress business-chique even though there was no clothing budget in our pay.

No jeans.

After about ten years they decided we could wear jeans on Fridays if we paid money toward the company like a fundraiser.





Six Feet Under - "Claire is Uncomfortable" (The Pantyhose Song)



Joe90
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29 Jun 2022, 3:40 pm

Well my biggest challenge was getting up early in the mornings. I know everyone moans about that, but for me it was to a greater degree and it affected my anxiety and interfered with my work performance.

Now I have a job where I work afternoons and/evenings and it's much better for my anxiety. Also I like the job, it's what I wanted to do, so that also helps.


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AprilR
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24 Jul 2022, 11:48 am

Background noise

Everyone chatting all the time while simultaneously doing their work which is impossible for me, i have to decide between joining the conversation or working, i often choose the former so can't finish work easily

Putting my thoughts in order and writing them down (my work involves writing a Lot)

Not knowing which of the tasks is more important

Trying to decipher what my employer wants me to do (example: he sends a document but will not tell me what to do, like respond to this, or write a complaint to another party, or do something else entirely)

My employer not checking my work and i am afraid of making mistakes

As for solutions i have none. I could use noise canceling headphones at work but i might not hear when my employer calls me and people might think i am weird or asocial



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24 Jul 2022, 12:06 pm

stratozyck wrote:
So, keep to these simple rules:

0. This rule is so important its rule 0. Do not gossip, ever. Be a gossip "heat sink." When people come to you with gossip, do not engage and do not repeat. Just smile and nod. It will happen. Gossip can turn a workplace toxic fast.
1. Reveal as little about your personal life as possible as default to all coworkers
2. Always be positive, say negative things in a positive way (say "we can improve this by..." instead of pointing out negatives of existing)
3. Never, never engage in a political or religious discussion
4. Learn to forget what colleagues and bosses say that is political/religious that offends you. Don't judge them, move on with it.


What sensible advice. Very, very useful.

My mistake was that I tried to make friends at work. I spent most of my time there so I was fooled into thinking my colleagues were my friends.

NOPE! They are your colleagues.

I was so exhausted by work that I didn't have a social life, which was a big mistake.

Always try your best to have a social life to make real friends in. Do not try to make friends at work.


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24 Jul 2022, 3:58 pm

I've had a number of the challenges others have posted about in this thread and I think what has helped the most has been working from home. I started working from home in March 2020 due to the pandemic and have been stretching it out as long as I can. Remote work poses its own challenges and has both pros and cons, but, for me, the pros have outweighed the cons. Honestly, the thought of returning to a traditional corporate work environment again fills me with dread and worry. :(



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28 Jul 2022, 12:07 am

PheonixDove wrote:
I'll soon be starting a new job. For context, I haven't worked full time since before I went through university to do my degree. I think my main challenges will be the social aspect of my job, and also the "exhaustion" of working long hours and communicating with people for long hours. That being said, I have no idea exactly what my job will entail yet (I'll be working as a mechanical engineer being trained from the ground up, pretty much).

I'm interested in what challenges people here have faced in work due to their ASD, and what has helped them cope with/overcome those challenges.

One of my biggest challenges was to climb 20 to 30 foot high with no warning that I had to do it for my old job.



Joe90
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28 Jul 2022, 2:59 am

The challenge I find most frustrating and difficult about the workplace is that you always get someone (usually a supervisor) who enjoys telling you off just for the sake of showing their authority, they find things about your work, or worse - plant things there so that they can tell you off about it, or gaslight you, so no matter how good you do your work they'll always have something to complain at you about. There is always one in every workplace and they usually like to pick on me even though I can assert myself and argue back. I think it's because they think my IQ is like 70 or something.

No, I'm not going to work from home, before someone throws that 'advice' at me.


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KitLily
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28 Jul 2022, 4:12 am

Joe90 wrote:
you always get someone (usually a supervisor) who enjoys telling you off just for the sake of showing their authority, they find things about your work, or worse - plant things there so that they can tell you off about it, or gaslight you, so no matter how good you do your work they'll always have something to complain at you about.


Urgh. Isn't that always the way.

It's a hierarchy thing. They want to underline the fact that they are superior and we shouldn't get too big for our boots. NTs are OBSESSED with hierarchies and jostling their way to the top of them. I don't think autistic people are interested in hierarchies.

I worked out it's because such people are threatened by us. They can tell we are more intelligent than them, so they have to resort to bullying us.


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