A Proverbial Can of Worms
As much as a cliche as it is to say so, it's hard to know where to start. To help frame this I will start by mentioning I've got Asperger's Syndrome and never really wished it any other way. I like some (not all!) of the quirks this brings. Anyway.
I'm a serial procrastinator, perhaps because I hate confrontation and being direct with people. A simple friendly gesture to ask an acquaintance to coffee (get to know them) is an ordeal, I think it through, think some more, fear rejection or that they'll lash out. Even trying to remove myself from friendships that haven't worked out, I fear some sort of retribution.
Organising those mundane things - car services, dealing with real estate agents, even managing mundane requests with the supervising staff at work; all of it can be quite stressful and I often find myself being pushed over. "Can I have Friday off?" "No we need you to work Friday, even though you're only a casual, it's easier if you just say yes, it saves me ... blah blah blah" "Alright then". I then spend days upset at myself for not standing my ground and tend to just withdraw out of shame.
For a long time I've recognised this is a problem. I try to make out lists of what I should do, recount any particular triumphs in my journal, and write out things that frustrate me. It helps, but it isn't enough. It is dragging me down being such a worry-wart. I'm also afraid to get help for fear of medication - my job involves driving heavy vehicles and I'm worried about an accident if the medication isn't right from the get-go.
Back to the autism for a moment. Recently got a new job (something of a dream role of mine), the indications so far is the workplace morale is great, far less toxicity than the last job and so on. The doctor who signed off my medical spent a lot of time chatting to me about my Asperger's, and suggested I reach out to my state's autism support organisation (I was relocating) to seek Executive Function Therapy. The examples used (time management, recognising emotions, communication etc) made me feel like the doctor read me like a book. I was really impressed and felt empowered to do something ... so I emailed one of those autism support organisations. Nothing. Back to square one. I'm new to this part of the world and don't even have a trusted GP I could see - not sure if a telephone consult with my old GP would be worthwhile? I also thought of contacting my employer's EAP provider for some guidance.
Not sure what the next step is...
thanks for sharing how you feel and for allowing yourself to seek for help here. I am sure someone in the forum will be able to point you in the right direction.
I would highly suggest you to book an appointment with your old GP! You can share your worries and insights and they will be able to give you insights and even talk possibilities or refer you to someone / support organisations. Also, I suggest you express your worry in regards to being put in medication and your job - I am sure there are safe options out there that professionals will be able to help you with!
Good on you for putting yourself out there and seek for help! Most of the times, that's the hardest part.
You are doing an amazing job, keep looking after yourself! Let us know how you go 🙂
Thank you for your post and for sharing what's been happening with you, and congratulations on your new job! That's wonderful news.
It sounds like your doctor who did the medical assessment really validated and understood where you're coming from. It's just frustrating when their recommendation didn't work out. Did you look at other organisations within the state that might be able to help?
I did find Autism Connect which is run through Amaze, and I know that Autism is different to Aspergers Syndrome but Amaze does help both. Hopefully they can give you some next steps - https://www.amaze.org.au/autismconnect/ They have both a phone number and a live chat if you don't want to speak on the phone.
A GP and an EAP sound like an excellent idea. GP's are usually the first step, who can refer you to a psychologist- although there is often a gap fee that you'll need to pay out of pocket. An EAP through your workplace won't need a referral, often has a very short waitlist but there's usually limited appointments. You could potentially try both?
Finally, I'm not sure if you're much of a reader, but there are a ton of self-help books that cover some of the strategies the GP talked about. So this could be worth looking into, or at your local library.
Hope this helps,
Whenever I hear someone's been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, first thing that always comes to mind is 'Ooh, wonder what their abilities are'. While the average person can work hard to attain and practice certain natural abilities, others are born with them. They're naturals of the highest caliber. Some may even say 'Super natural' 🙂 I'm mum to an almost 17yo super natural guy. He stuns me at times.
Wondering if you can relate to some of the following
- Introverted nature that goes well with other introverts/philosophers. Vibes incredibly well with people of a similar nature. Not so well with others
- The ability to feel when a person or situation is a 'downer' or an 'upper'
- Absolutely stunning hearing, to the point of being able to hear the frequency of certain mechanical objects. You know that high pitch. To be able to hear/sense when a piece of machinery's becoming dysfunctional or on its way out is a talent. Too much sound, in certain environments, can be a kind of kryptonite for such a super man/woman
- Being a visionary/seer. A brilliant imagination allows for clear imagery to come to mind. Down side can involve loving the imagination so much that the challenges outside of it just don't hold the same high. The disappointment that can come with not being able to see things clearly at times can also be incredibly frustrating and even depressing at times. Knowing when to call in another visionary/seer/guide, to help choose a new path or a new way is definitely key
- Naturally intuitive, with what makes the most sense naturally coming to mind, without thinking. Other people triggering an intuitive to self doubt can be a major problem at times
- Naturally wonderful, full of wonder. Wonderful people are natural researchers. They typically can't settle for a 'Can't do' attitude while they can't help but wonder about what can be done, in the way of a natural solution
- The ability to emotionally detach, so feelings don't get in the way of progress
List goes on.
It can be seriously challenging living in a world with a lot of 'typical' people. Personally, I much prefer neurodivergent folk. Far more fascinating and inspiring.
With you naturally wondering about your old GP or your employer's EAP provider, can't hurt to play detective and see if you can detect them to be of any help in the way of moving forward. Btw, I've found an inspiring woman in the world of autism research, while also being on the spectrum herself, is Jac den Houting 🙂
Thank-you everyone for your helpful words of encouragement so far. It means a lot.
romantic_thi3f - Hadn't heard of Amaze, so will have a look at their site and see what's there that can help. I've never really looked too deeply into Asperger's beyond the basics when I need to refresh myself, but I've always understood it to be on the low-end of the autism spectrum (think that's called 'high functioning'?). People are often quite surprised when I mention it - I'm a terrible conversationalist, generally awkward, and particularly passive in unfamiliar situations yet apparently it's not noticeable. Perhaps I'm using a facade without really knowing it and being too hard on myself?
therising - Some interesting points there. I'm definitely an introvert/recluse type, and with the right people am very content. Group settings are incredibly difficult as I often find myself sitting between two different conversations and unable to focus on one; even if someone is talking directly to me I find myself trying to listen to the other conversation as well. On occasions this can feel like disconnection and slowly bring me into a state of nervousness and even near-panic.
You mention "the ability to feel", and while I often end up being right about certain people or situations, I'm often wrong as well. In either case a vast amount of time has been spent ruminating on the topic, which isn't really healthy.
While I wouldn't call my hearing brilliant, attention to detail is something I pride myself on at work (although ironically when it comes to organisation and 'getting things done' it's also where I come apart). Intertwined with this is that Asperger's trait of developing fixated interests, and wanting to learn all there is to learn about them. While that's diminished over time, a lot of my teen years were spent researching all manner of "how it works" type stuff, and I'm still quite interested in the "how?" and "why?" type questions in my job now in relation to the vehicles we drive, and why we operate in the manner we do.
I can relate to what you say about trying to focus on 2 conversations at once. Based on having a fairly strong imagination, I love imagining what people are saying to me. For example, if someone is describing to me someone they met, I'll be developing an image in my mind of what that person looks like (based on their description) while also imagining what the person near me is describing in their conversation. It's almost like I can't help myself but try and imagine what both people are describing at once. I don't mean to have divided attention, I just find things fascinating. If I really have to focus, I'll try and make the imagery far more vivid so it captures my full attention. May even ask the person speaking for greater detail, to help me maintain focus on what they're saying.
I've found there are a variety of reasons for reading people or situations wrong. One could involve reading them through our own filter - bias, fear, memory based triggers, an inability to relate etc. You can even get someone completely wrong that you've just met based on them acting out of character. Kinda like they're having a seriously bad day, based on a huge amount of challenges in their life having stacked up. You happen to meet them on the day where they've reached the tipping point into sheer intolerance. Normally, they're a gentle caring person but not today. I think we learn, graduating from the wrong calls when it comes to our intuition as we're developing it. There's the opportunity to learn a lot about human nature when developing that strength.
When it comes to that fixation trait, my son's fixation has always involved sharks, since the age of 4. He still loves everything about them. While he has a basic interest in the marine world, sharks remain his #1 love. Like yourself, he's dialed it down a bit as he practices expanding his interests and developing more of an interest in what interests others. While turning 17 this month he's chosen subjects at school that will lead him to fulfilling the dream he had as a 4yo, becoming a marine biologist. That's the thing about the passion of someone on the spectrum, they often hear their calling from a young age. Whether it's a love of a certain animal, the love of certain machines, the love of helping others or the love of being a comedian etc, how that love or passion and sense of wonder is nurtured is so significant.
I think if someone's born wonderful (full of wonder) can be hard to settle for not knowing 🙂