I want to tell you the social and job challenges I had and how I evolved in coping with autism as an adult. If I can do this, so can you.
About 6 years, ago, I finally decided to get tested for a possible learning disability by a psychologist. I knew something was holding me back from successful interviews for higher paying jobs and a quality social life. I also had past social interaction challenges. A few days before college graduation, a hall mate of mine mentioned: “You are bringing up a conversation topic we stopped talking about a while ago. Do you think you might have a learning disability?” Another 2 hall mates stated that I seemed slower on the social uptake than most people.
A few days before college graduation, a hall mate of mine mentioned: “You are bringing up a conversation topic we stopped talking about a while ago. Do you think you might have a learning disability?”
After testing with the psychologist several years later, it turned out I had several traits of Asperger’s but was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder instead. The psychologist mentioned monotone voice as a characteristic. I felt depressed of being officially recognized as having poor eye hand coordination and poor fine motor skills, etc. Fortunately, within 3 days, I got over it! A close relative of mine several years younger who had several similar social interaction challenges and who had also been a victim of social bullying growing up mentioned 1 day that he had finally been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Since my diagnosis earlier was just Generalized Anxiety disorder, I decided to get a 2nd opinion.
The first step to discovering I had autism was to search online for psychologists in my area who specialized in Asperger’s/ High Functioning Autism diagnosis. My close relative newly diagnosed with adult ASD also mentioned his monotone voice was listed as a trait of autism. I then found one psychological services provider who specializing in Autism testing and diagnosis that was listed as an in-network provider with my health insurance. The testing turned out to be a 3-4 hour process of cognitive testing and questionnaires besides a face to face interview with the psychologist. I felt relieved after getting officially diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (formerly Asperger’s) and after reading several articles on the internet about employers becoming more Autism friendly.
Before I was aware I had adult high functioning autism, though I had a B.A. degree in Business, jobs such as a retail salesperson and a bank teller in my early to mid 20’so did not work out due to me not being able to spontaneously improvise on short notice in an environment with several others talking at the same time. I was let go from another temp job due to a lack of eye hand coordination in threading ornaments. However, throughout the past 30 years, I have been coping with my adult high functioning autism and succeeded in full time paid positions where I have had only predictable routine tasks on a daily basis that had no transactions handling in a fast paced environment but enabled preparation time where I could use my good planning and organization skills.
The first way in which I have been coping with autism has been to read and listen to such works as The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph P. Murphy and The Science of Self Confidence by Brian Tracy. I listed to the audio tape, but you may want to check out the ebook or go to your local public library’s website to search for it. Another relative also introduced me to works by Anthony Robbins and Earl Nightingale which mentioned inspiring success stories of overcoming obstacles. Learning about positive affirmations and visualization techniques have done wonders for me!! I am much less stressed than I use to be and feel much more empowered due the most helpful mindset strategies of these publications mentioned! I had checked out many of these books and audiotapes from my local library. A lot of self-improvement titles are now available in e-book or audio .mp3 format that you can read or listen to on your laptop and smartphone. Check your local library website and see if they offer special app access to borrow e-books or audio books with your library card. First, you probably need to create an online library account.
A second way I have been coping with autism is noticing socially successful introverts and how they use their listening skills, non-verbal behavior and adjust to suddenly changing situations. Whether on the job or in a social group, I have chosen 1 or 2 as good role models on how to get along well and be respected.
A third way I have been coping with ASD when on the job has been to use my natural strengths of organizing and thoughtful preparation to have a sufficient array of tools and items to perform well during my work day. During the first few hours, I touch base with managers and other work team members on what will be needed to maintain or improve quality and efficient service. If they request something, I try to focus on completing that particular request ASAP so that I do not forget about it since I can only focus on one task at a time. During slow periods, I see what extra simple tasks I can complete to increase efficiency and help prevent future setbacks. The greatest intangible benefit of using this work style strategy has been respect and high regard from my coworkers and managers. Not to mention, a good solid work history with positive evaluations and recognition.
Finally, though just as important, in coping with autism as an adult, I have been improving my body language aka non-verbal behavior. One way is improved eye contact as a way of listening when others are talking to me. I am also controlling hand gestures to avoid appearing awkward and becoming more aware of my physical surroundings to avoid clumsiness. A good way to start finding tips on using positive and effective non-verbal behavioral techniques might be YouTube videos or online courses on perhaps Skillshare or Udemy.
This blog article was written for CA’s blog resources by an anonymous contributor. You can read their previous post about commuting by bicycle here.