Just found out about this and it seems to fit why some things are different about my aspiness than other aspies. It’s exactly the things listed on this site (http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-an-introduction/what-is-pathological-demand-avoidance.aspx) that fit where a straight ASD diagnosis with SPD doesn’t. Go ahead, click the link. Subscribe to her blog. It’s all interesting.
As I scroll through Facebook, I see many articles in my feed. For the most part they fit a trend–especially when I follow so many pages and groups on autism, aspergers and self-advocating. One of the recent trends has been about Microsoft and other companies like it hiring autistics specifically. I have to say, I’ve avoided reading anything regarding this trend until today.
In November of 2014, I was hired on as an intern Grant Writer. When my project management and research skills shone brighter than my writing skills, I was diverted to Grant Coordinator/Project Manager Intern. I gathered info about our current projects, current grant makers and our budgetary needs and assessed which grant maker to match the project with. There was one thing that got in the way: the directors complete inability to stay on task and finish projects in a timely manner. Now, this wasn’t my first conclusion. I made excuses for how busy she was and how soft some of the deadlines seemed. But, when the internship ended and I got my review, I realized that she assumed she was making accommodations for me. Because I’m autistic. Wow! I wanted to tell her, “you mean to tell me that all that waiting around I did was because you didn’t think I could handle the job?” I didn’t. I left, gladly to be ridden of a place so ablist. (side note: I will not be disclosing my SPD, autism or PTSD to future employers from now on)
This is why I didn’t read the articles until today. This is why I scrolled past without a concern or care for what was being said about this issue. I was afraid for the people who would fall prey to this targeted hiring practice, but couldn’t bring myself to get involved in the discussion. Today, I felt an urge to say something. To add my peace to the mix. To tell my side, my perspective. If someone finds it here on my lonely little blog, then great. If not, I will not say another word about it.
If autistic people are hired for their gifts, they will only be seen for their gifts. What happens when the rude truth happens and a meltdown makes everyone “uncomfortable”? What happens when they decide that one meltdown a quarter isn’t worth all the skills they are gaining from employing an autistic? What happens when they say, “oh, we cut back on your work because we didn’t think you could handle it” because of that one bad day you had last quarter? Can we scream discrimination after receiving special treatment in the first place? Can we say, “I don’t like being treated like a special case anymore” when we’re tired of the ablism? Will we only be seen only for our gifts which would make some autistics less hirable? (hint: not all of us are good at math, spatial reasoning and logic)
I learned a long time ago not to present an issue with also presenting a solution (this doesn’t count when just venting about bad shit). So, here’s my solution… stop the interview process. Hire people based on their resume and application. Change the resume format to ensure that strengths are highlighted. Train HR to pick out the best applicants. If there is a hiring interview, then have it be a hiring party/luncheon and have all the candidates and employees mix for an 30 mins to see who they “feel” they can get along with the best (everyone is expected to act natural, NOT on their best behavior). If the best candidate has the worst resume, throw it out. If the worst candidate has the best resume, throw that one out too.
See, the issue is people not giving their instincts enough credit. You know before you even talk to someone that you don’t like them. Even when you try hard to like the person and things go well, something ALWAYS happens to prove that first instinct. Why not go with it? Why not change the hiring process to fit that natural born ability? The best jobs I’ve ever had were given to me by people who followed their gut. The worst jobs I was never offered were also denied by people that followed their gut.
I shit you not, a potential employer said to me during a second interview, “I just don’t think it’ll work out. It’s not that I don’t think you could do the job. I feel you’d be an amazing asset to our purchasing department. I just don’t feel like your strong personality would fit well with Phyllis.” “Who’s Phyllis?” “Oh, she’s our company secretary. I just think she’d have a real problem with you.” A look of “boy did I make a bad decision hiring that woman” crosses his face and he says, “It will be a couple months before we find the right candidate. If something opens up before then, I’ll give you a call.” We parted and I was thinking, “jeez, if this woman is so much trouble, why is she still around? And I get fired for having an attitude?” Then I wondered if he was thinking she was going to die or quit soon. Maybe he was hoping. O_o Go with your gut.
Is that the best solution for this problem? Nope. The best solution will be the one that works. Will my solution inspire someone else’s solution? Well, there’s no point in sharing if you don’t think someone might be inspired by it.
So, my conclusion is that this hiring of autistics is a slippery slope. One that I hope all the kinks are worked out of by the time I graduate university. You’ve got two years America. Two years (maybe 4 if I push through to my Masters before looking for work in my field) to get this ironed out. I won’t expect special treatment and will be wary of accepting any.
I started to type this out on my facebook feed, but I felt others with Aspergers would probably like to read this. I know that not having light or sound sensory issues makes me feel like a freak in the autism community, but I have other sensory issues that should be addressed and recognized on the high functioning part of the spectrum. So, here’s the post I started on facebook and elaborated for you…
Cleaning out my feed. Simplifying my life. I may just have to specialize to survive. Math and science it is. I’m done trying to get along with everyone and trying to be normal. If you don’t like what I wear, how I do my hair or what I’m interested in, then fuck it. Walk off. I spend way too much energy trying to seem normal that I can’t focus on anything else properly. And that means you.
Notice how I don’t ask questions or how I turn the conversation back on me a lot? It’s because I’m concentrating so hard on seeming normal, trying not to say the wrong thing that I can’t think about you, only what you might be thinking of me. SO, I sound clever, spout facts, recite pop culture references. Mostly I’m afraid of looking stupid and saying the wrong thing. I’m so tired of that. I want to have friends and interact with people.
Now that I know WHY I have so much trouble meshing with people, I don’t want to struggle with it anymore. I thought everyone struggled with it but I was just especially retarded. That’s not true. I can’t process conversation (non-verbal as well as verbal) the same way you can. But it doesn’t make me less than. Being Aspie will help me learn how to mesh better, believe it or not.
I notice when I’m with my son or other people that know me really well–that I can relax around–I’m a charismatic, considerate person and I can turn the conversation on to the other person like I’m supposed to. I can stop myself from being overly chatty about myself and my interests and talk about the other persons. If I stop caring what y’all think of me, then I can be that amazing, awesome person I try so hard to be (and fail at because it’s not really me).
Aspergers is a blessing. I love being an aspie and finding people that experience life the way I do. I am high functioning even for aspergers. But where others have sensory issues related to sound and light, I have sensory issues related to emotions. I can feel your emotions. I can feel everyone’s emotions. It’s really hard to turn that off and when I’m already not doing well from my own depression, I isolate myself. I turn away from everyone and regular routines involving people because I can’t deal with your emotions as well as my own.
I’m trying to learn how to deal with them–the emotions. I’m trying to learn how to shield myself. I’m just taking it day by day. So far it’s been difficult to figure out how to fit it all together. But I might be at the edge of a break through. The more I write the easier it seems.
I hope it just becomes easier as I get older. I’m looking forward to that.
I recently have come to the conclusion that I have Aspergers–or High Functioning Autism. In my research I’ve found many articles, forum posts and Facebook posts that reinforce my self diagnosis. I’m currently looking for a psychiatrist that will assess me that is proficient in not just Aspergers, but women with Aspergers. The point of this post is to assess (and make public) a compiled list of traits to see how my traits coincide with others on the spectrum. I have highlighted the traits that I identify with. I find this list refreshing because a lot of these things I would never have been able to put into words. (The numbers below are for my own organization)
I haven’t added anything to this list, but I’m sure there are a few traits missing. I would just have to go over it with a fine tooth comb and figure in the things that don’t fall under other categories. For instance, there’s a reference to eye contact but specifically I looked at mouths until I trained myself around 17-18 yo to make eye contact. It was initially very hard for me and I eventually desensitized myself to eyes. As a child I had a very hard time looking into anyone’s eyes, mostly animals though. As an adult, I can say that the fear of looking into an animals eyes has only dissipated 50% and for people it depends on how vivid and deep their eyes are. I still have trouble with dark brown eyes and blue eyes. Green and brown are much easier as well as eyes that are shallow and have less character. I still have trouble looking into the eyes of deeply passionate people and deeply disturbed people. I would add this to the list in a few sections because it presents itself in different ways. It’s social as well as sensitive. It may also be a characteristic apparent in escapism and confusion.
Anyhow, I’m Lindsay and these are my Aspie traits. Thanks for reading.
Sections: A 10/10 100%, B 10/10 100%, C 19/20 95%, D 15/16 93.8%, E 25/25 100%, F 14/14 100%, G 20/20 100%, H 13/14 92.9%, I 14/15 93.3%, J 10/10 100%, Optional 11/15 73.3%
Total Percentage: 95.3%
Section A: Deep Thinkers
1. A deep thinker
2. A prolific writer drawn to poetry
3. Highly intelligent
4. Sees things at multiple levels including thinking processes.
5. Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything continually.
6. Serious and matter-of-fact in nature.
7. Doesn’t take things for granted.
8. Doesn’t simplify.
9. Everything is complex.
10. Often gets lost in own thoughts and “checks out.” (blank stare)
Section B: Innocent
3. Experiences trouble with lying.
4. Finds it difficult to understand manipulation and disloyalty.
5. Finds it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation.
6. Easily fooled and conned.
7. Feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed
8. Feelings of being misplaced and/or from another planet
9. Feelings of isolation
10. Abused or taken advantage of as a child but didn’t think to tell anyone.
Section C: Escape and Friendship
1. Survives overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action.
2. Escapes regularly through fixations, obsessions, and over-interest in subjects.
3. Escapes routinely through imagination, fantasy, and daydreaming.
4. Escapes through mental processing.
5. Escapes through the rhythm of words.
6. Philosophizes continually.
7. Had imaginary friends in youth.
8. Imitates people on television or in movies.
9. Treated friends as “pawns” in youth, e.g., friends were “students,” “consumers,” “soldiers.”
10. Makes friends with older or younger females.
11. Imitates friends or peers in style, dress, and manner.
12. Obsessively collects and organizes objects.
13. Mastered imitation.
14. Escapes by playing the same music over and over.
15. Escapes through a relationship (imagined or real).
16. Numbers bring ease.
17. Escapes through counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging.
18. Escapes into other rooms at parties.
19. Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts.
20. Everything has a purpose.
Section D: Comorbid Attributes
1. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) <– not officially diagnosed, but haven’t really talked to anyone about my spoons, crossing the street or key checking
2. Sensory Issues (sight, sound, texture, smells, taste)
3. Generalized Anxiety
4. Sense of pending danger or doom
5. Feelings of polar extremes (depressed/over-joyed; inconsiderate/over-sensitive)
6. Poor muscle tone, double-jointed, and/or lack in coordination
7. Eating disorders, food obsessions, and/or worry about what is eaten.
8. Irritable bowel and/or intestinal issues
9. Chronic fatigue and/or immune challenges
10. Misdiagnosed or diagnosed with other mental illness and/or labeled hypochondriac.
11. Questions place in the world.
12. Often drops small objects
13. Wonders who she is and what is expected of her.
14. Searches for right and wrong.
15. Since puberty, has had bouts of depression.
16. Flicks/rubs fingernails, flaps hands, rubs hands together, tucks hands under or between legs, keeps closed fists, and/or clears throat often.
Section E: Social Interaction
1. Friends have ended friendship suddenly and without person understanding why.
2. Tendency to over-share.
3. Spills intimate details to strangers.
4. Raised hand too much in class or didn’t participate in class.
5. Little impulse control with speaking when younger.
6. Monopolizes conversation at times.
7. Bring subject back to self.
8. Comes across at times as narcissistic and controlling. (Is not narcissistic.)
9. Shares in order to reach out.
10. Sounds eager and over-zealous at times.
11. Holds a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside.
12. Feels as if she is attempting to communicate “correctly.”
13. Obsesses about the potentiality of a relationship with someone, particularly a love interest.
14. Confused by the rules of accurate eye contact, tone of voice, proximity of body, stance, and posture in conversation.
15. Conversation can be exhausting.
16. Questions the actions and behaviors of self and others, continually.
17. Feels as if missing a conversation “gene” or thought-“filter”
18. Trained self in social interactions through readings and studying of other people.
19. Visualizes and practices how she will act around others.
20. Practices in mind what she will say to another before entering the room.
21. Difficulty filtering out background noise when talking to others.
22. Has a continuous dialogue in mind that tells her what to say and how to act when in a social situations.
23. Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, or different from others.
24. As a child, it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk.
25. She finds norms of conversation confusing.
Section F: Finds Refuge when Alone
1. Feels extreme relief when she doesn’t have to go anywhere, talk to anyone, answer calls, or leave the house.
2. One visitor at the home may be perceived as a threat.
3. Knowing logically a house visitor is not a threat, doesn’t relieve the anxiety.
4. Feelings of dread about upcoming events and appointments on the calendar.
5. Knowing she has to leave the house causes anxiety from the moment she wakes up.
6. All the steps involved in leaving the house are overwhelming and exhausting to think about.
7. She prepares herself mentally for outings, excursions, meetings, and appointments.
8. Question next steps and movements continually.
9. Telling self the “right” words and/or positive self-talk doesn’t often alleviate anxiety.
10. Knowing she is staying home all day brings great peace of mind.
11. Requires a large amount of down time or alone time.
12. Feels guilty after spending a lot of time on a special interest.
13. Uncomfortable in public locker rooms, bathrooms, and/or dressing rooms.
14. Dislikes being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, or crowded theater.
Section G: Sensitive
1. Sensitive to sounds, textures, temperature, and/or smells when trying to sleep.
2. Adjusts bedclothes, bedding, and/or environment in an attempt to find comfort.
3. Dreams are anxiety-ridden, vivid, complex, and/or precognitive in nature.
4. Highly intuitive to others’ feelings.
5. Takes criticism to heart.
6. Longs to be seen, heard, and understood.
7. Questions if she is a “normal” person.
8. Highly susceptible to outsiders’ viewpoints and opinions.
9. At times adapts her view of life or actions based on others’ opinions or words.
10. Recognizes own limitations in many areas daily.
11. Becomes hurt when others question or doubt her work.
12. Views many things as an extension of self.
13. Fears others opinions, criticism, and judgment.
14. Dislikes words and events that hurt animals and people.
15. Collects or rescues animals. (often in childhood)
16. Huge compassion for suffering.
17. Sensitive to substances. (environmental toxins, foods, alcohol, etc.)
18. Tries to help, offers unsolicited advice, or formalizes plans of action.
19. Questions life purpose and how to be a “better” person.
20. Seeks to understand abilities, skills, and/or gifts.
Section H: Sense of Self
1. Feels trapped between wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in.
2. Imitates others without realizing.
3. Suppresses true wishes.
4. Exhibits codependent behaviors.
5. Adapts self in order to avoid ridicule.
6. Rejects social norms and/or questions social norms.
7. Feelings of extreme isolation.
8. Feeling good about self takes a lot of effort and work.
9. Switches preferences based on environment and other people.
10. Switches behavior based on environment and other people.
11. Didn’t care about her hygiene, clothes, and appearance before teenage years and/or before someone else pointed these out to her.
12. “Freaks out” but doesn’t know why until later.
13. Young sounding voice (<– I’m of the opinion that my voice sounds appropriate for my age.)
14. Trouble recognizing what she looks like and/or has occurrences of slight prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing or remembering faces).
Section I: Confusion
1. Had a hard time learning others are not always honest.
2. Feelings seem confusing, illogical, and unpredictable. (self’s and others’)
3. Confuses appointment times, numbers, or dates.
4. Expects that by acting a certain way certain results can be achieved, but realizes in dealing with emotions, those results don’t always manifest.
5. Spoke frankly and literally in youth.
6. Jokes go over the head.
7. Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray.
8. Trouble identifying feelings unless they are extreme.
9. Trouble with emotions of hate and dislike.
10. Feels sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt her. (eventually)
11. Personal feelings of anger, outrage, deep love, fear, giddiness, and anticipation seem to be easier to identify than emotions of joy, satisfaction, calmness, and serenity.
12. Situations and conversations sometimes perceived as black or white.
13. The middle spectrum of outcomes, events, and emotions is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood. (All or nothing mentality)
14. A small fight might signal the end of a relationship or collapse of world.
15. A small compliment might boost her into a state of bliss.
Section J: Words and Patterns
1. Likes to know word origins.
2. Confused when there is more than one meaning to a word.
3. High interest in songs and song lyrics.
4. Notices patterns frequently.
5. Remembers things in visual pictures.
6. Remembers exact details about someone’s life.
7. Has a remarkable memory for certain details.
8. Writes or creates to relieve anxiety.
9. Has certain “feelings” or emotions towards words.
10. Words bring a sense of comfort and peace, akin to a friendship.
(Optional) Executive Functioning
This area isn’t always as evident as other areas
1. Simple tasks can cause extreme hardship.
2. Learning to drive a car or rounding the corner in a hallway can be troublesome.
3. New places offer their own set of challenges.
4. Anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse a sense of panic.
5. The thought of repairing, fixing, or locating something can cause anxiety.
6. Mundane tasks are avoided.
7. Cleaning may seem insurmountable at times.
8. Many questions come to mind when setting about to do a task.
9. Might leave the house with mismatched socks, shirt buttoned incorrectly, and/or have dyslexia.
10. A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming.
11. Trouble copying dance steps, aerobic moves, or direction in a sports gym class.
12. Has a hard time finding certain objects in the house, but remembers with exact clarity where other objects are.
14. Photographic memory
15. Needs explicit directions.