Autism + ADHD vs. autism only at work

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NoFishToday
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23 Mar 2023, 11:56 am

I have autism (Asperger's) and ADHD. Apparently we are our own kind, we who are a mix of these two. I am used to my brain not working in exactly the same way as most folks. I think differently, and I sometimes do tasks differently, or in other order than others. To me the "Asperger only" folks are not very similar to me. They are of a third kind. Me and "aspie onlys"don't necessarily understand each other better than I or they do with the NTs.

I'm new at work. Never had an office job before. I studied for this job, so it is not "unqualified" (whetever that means). Everything so far seems fine. I have had other jobs that stole all my energy and made my life chaos. This may not be the perfect job for me, such a thing does probably not exist, but it's way, way better than all other jobs I've had.

The first week was a bit nervous. I struggled a bit to learn everybody's names, and to find my way in an office corridor where all doors look the same. I have my own room! It's small with a lousy view, mainly boring windows and a little bit of sky. But having a room of my own is a super duper perk, to this place. All that with not walking in the wrong direction in the corridor and remembering people's names, well, when second week started it seems most of that has fallen into place. (I'll have to continue memorizing people'e names, though. Otherwise I will forget. Thankfully it's a fairly small office, few people and few names to learn.)

The first six weeks or so is a somehow structured introduction, where one of my workmates is responsible for me each Monday, another at Tuesdays, etc. Each week is focussed on one task, or one side of a task. These people guiding me have fairly different approaches, which sometimes is a good thing. I can pick the best from all of them, or what works for me.

There is one workmate who doesn't eat lunch with the others. She joins for coffee break but doesn't have lunch with us. She prefers to eat alone in her room. Nobody has said anything bad about it, which is a good sign for the workplace in general: people are allowed to be different. This solo lunch habit was the first thing that made me wonder if she is a fellow aspie. There's also some other things, that I won't mention. During coffe breaks she interacts quite normally, at least from what I can tell. I assume this "acting" takes a lot of her energy. Quite a few aspie women are good at "acting normal", at quite a cost for themselves. She might well be one of them. (My story is different. But let's not go into that at the moment.)

Now, my introduction has been a little bit onesided since there's influenca etc. going on, and some of my "tutors" have been on sickleave. So there was some things I have missed out, and probably learn in a more structured way. This was well observed by my probable aspie colleague. The way she goes about to teach me, though, makes me nuts.

It's impossible to interrupt her, asking where she's going with what she currently explaining. Or well. Not literally impossible but she obviously finds it very, very disturbing. I, on the other hand, gets extremely frustrated when somebody's talking about something that I'm supposed to learn and I don't understand the context, and can't ask since the other person doesn't like to be interrupted.

Today, I spent quite some time in vain frustration. Then I started to structure the information she pointed me to, in ways that suit me better. In the end, it all was fruitful, and I have a plan for what to ask my "Friday tutor".

I thought a lot about how I can handle the days when my suspected aspie collegue is my "tutor", focussed on how to cope. On my way home from work, I changed focus. She struggles more than I do, with this teaching situation that she apparently doesn't like much.

Next time, I will be better prepared for how she does things. I will have checked more things beforehand, so I understand better where she is going. None of the others prepares little "lessons" to teach from beginning to the end, with questions possibly when she's finished. I probably won't gain anything from not accepting that structure. I'd better let her have it.

She probably struggles more in life than I have, and have done. Or maybe not ... such things are hard to compare. It may well be that her personality, including the aspie traits, makes her better suited for this job than me. It doesn't matter. But in this situation, I can afford to make an effort to make the situation easier for her. I think she gets nuts when exposed to my somewhat chaotic ADHD traits! and, well. If she can make an effort to be likeable and social during coffee break, a situation that is not very difficult for me ... or, oh well. I'm working not not talking to much, and to talk more about others than about myself, and ask others questions. But I do not find this this exhausting. It's more of an experient, trying new ways and see what works. So if she makes an effort an coffee breaks, I can make an effort accepting her teaching style - which certainly isn't very great, but hey. Others are maybe not all that great either, regarding how I learn best. But they are sub-optimal (who aren't!) in ways that doesn't irritate me as much as she pecularities.

I'll try to play nice.

Any comments? I'd love to hear from aspie-onlies who go nuts on us seemingly totally unstructured ADHD-asperger mixes! What can I do to ... not help her, perhaps. But to not disturb and irritate her more than necessary?



BreathlessJade
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24 Mar 2023, 12:35 am

still being in the discovery/evaluation phase of both aspergers and adhd, I can say any job, except for music, started out exciting but slowly became over stimulating, and then became unbearable. My longest position in retail was just over 2 years and in the last year i was crying while going to work. for me, It was excruciating. and now my job is heavily involved with the public and i literally hate it to the point where i lose skills like pronounciation, tone, memory, even motor skills. i went to work one day after taking extra medication to stay calm and almost passed out on the concrete floor. so i think finding the perfect job to accommodate my hyper sensitive body will just make a world of difference



MatchboxVagabond
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26 Mar 2023, 5:57 pm

You're likely right, autism and ADHD alone can look very different depending on many factors including when or if the person found out and what precise mix of traits they've got. I'm probably lucky in that I've also got OCD to go along with it which seems to increase the amount of leeway I have a bit.

As far as work goes, the best advice I've found is to try and find ways of making the time between trying/doing something and evaluating it as short as possible. The shorter it is, the more likely it is that you'll learn a useful lesson out of it. Being told that something didn't work correctly and not even being able to remember what you did is just a complete waste of everybody's time.

Also, if you're not already doing it. Get a notebook and start writing things down when you're not sure about it. Digital is nice in that if you need to edit or back it up, that's easy. But paper is fine too if it feels better.



NoFishToday
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28 Mar 2023, 1:22 pm

BreathlessJade wrote:
My longest position in retail was just over 2 years and in the last year i was crying while going to work. for me, It was excruciating. and now my job is heavily involved with the public and i literally hate it to the point where i lose skills like pronounciation, tone, memory, even motor skills.


Retails sounds exhausting. So does being involved with the public.

I have some problems with what they call turn taking. I tend to interrupt when others talk since I don't sense the small signals for when it is appropriate to start talking. Lately I haven't had much problems with that BUT when I'm stressed or just feels uncomfortable, it seems I can't make it. I need to do a bit more of shutting up at coffee break, for plenty of reasons. One of them that the more I tell about myself, the more stuff people find out that maybe aren't ... typical and "normal", oh well. Neurotypical. People are so focussed on fitting in and not being different. I never was. I need to learn not to tell about all my peculiarities.



NoFishToday
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28 Mar 2023, 1:27 pm

MatchboxVagabond wrote:
As far as work goes, the best advice I've found is to try and find ways of making the time between trying/doing something and evaluating it as short as possible. The shorter it is, the more likely it is that you'll learn a useful lesson out of it. Being told that something didn't work correctly and not even being able to remember what you did is just a complete waste of everybody's time.


Regarding my probably aspie collegue I should make sure to have totally different approach next time. And, yes, evaluate it.

MatchboxVagabond wrote:
Also, if you're not already doing it. Get a notebook and start writing things down when you're not sure about it. Digital is nice in that if you need to edit or back it up, that's easy. But paper is fine too if it feels better.


What kind of things are you thinking about? Strategies, situations had happened, or something else?

I write down people's names, still working on memorizing them. It's not seen as okay having to think for five seconds before finding someone's name ... I quick repetition each morning should be fine.

There's also work related notes, that most everyone in this job takes. Although I tend to take more notes than most.



MatchboxVagabond
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29 Mar 2023, 9:37 am

NoFishToday wrote:
What kind of things are you thinking about? Strategies, situations had happened, or something else?

I write down people's names, still working on memorizing them. It's not seen as okay having to think for five seconds before finding someone's name ... I quick repetition each morning should be fine.

There's also work related notes, that most everyone in this job takes. Although I tend to take more notes than most.


Honestly, that's going to be an issue for anybody that's got executive functioning challenges. I just make a short list. Anything the boss seems to think is important about the job. Anything that gets my coworkers off my back and an item or two about each of the coworkers to show them that I know they're not potted plants. Don't spend too much time, you only really need one job related thing to focus on and an item or two about the coworkers.)

Personally, I just focused on one item to improve on each day. And I mostly chose the things that made my job the least annoying as the things that made my job annoying were usually the result of not being as good as I should be at it. It seemed to work out.

Honestly, the more repetitive the job, the easier this gets. I still struggle massively with all the changes that come down from corporate. They don't really know what they want, it filters through multiple levels of management to me. Then I have to reinterpret it all and turn it into something that I can actually do. I pretty much rethink my entire job at least once a month because of this insanity. Even my NT coworkers have issues with it.

Good luck.