The Autism Spectrum: Careers
Careers are challenging while Living on the Autism Spectrum and very hard to navigate. I did not receive my diagnosis until my thirties, well after trying multiple careers. My three earlier Blogs laid the foundation for this one, so I hope you have read them as well. This Blog clearly shows how being on the Autism Spectrum took me down paths and experiences that others would have not chosen; they would have seen many red flags that I never did. Needless to say, the this story comes off complicated and, yes, tiresome because drama and poor life decisions are part of the equation. Lawyer Robert Tudisco has a funny and poignant video on YouTube that talks about the “Impact of ADHD on College Students through Adulthood.”
Being a professional, over the past decades, has changed: think “Mad Men” versus today. Each decade gave us expectations that were not always easy to understand. As an adult Living on the Autism Spectrum I was in a constant state of anxiety: always worrying about my performance, appearance, careers, social settings and more.
Adults on the Autism Spectrum learn differently. When doing something I love I can hyper-focus, a common characteristic. Hyper-focused people lose the ability to interact with their environment. We lose all track of time. We have little need for sleep, nutrition, personal hygiene. When you research people who have lived on the Autism Spectrum you see the term hyper-focus in several. It is at once a curse and a blessing: the blessings are the ability to create big picture visions (good for engineering, architecture, entrepreneurs, etc.) Seeing the “big picture” is easy; focusing on the mundane and normal is difficult; everything else falls by the wayside, especially carrying out the project — the curse, the mundane.
Adults on the Autism Spectrum have to find an environment that works for them: a creative atmosphere with flexible surroundings and schedule. This, of course, is not possible in most careers where specific duties, place and hours dominate. Many people with these learning differences are writers, inventors, philosophers, entrepreneurs who are able to be quiet, think, think. Going off to Walden Pond to brainstorm the next phenomenon is not something most of us have the luxury of doing. Keeping a job to pay bills, and most people have no problem doing so. But for me, living being on the Autism Spectrum as an adult, it has resulted in multiple failures, frustrations, and feelings of hopelessness. These often led to depression and anxiety attacks because I did not know what worked for me.
The point of this story is that I have learned how being on the Autism Spectrum learning differences shaped my successes, failures and stumbles throughout all of my Careers. I excelled at contract work: filling a need, being a fast learner, upon job completion leaving a hero — that was a natural fit. In career positions, I was only successful when receiving regular, six-month promotions and raises: rarely available in most industries. I often left many positions within thirty days or less because my intense intuition told me there was a presence of evil, doom or just plain old corruption within the work environment, often later proven to be true. Many times I juggled three jobs simultaneously because contract positions were part-time. Following my husband around the country for his career opportunities left me in a constant state of flux. I tried starting my company six times, in several locations, with multiple goals and only one, this one, has lasted for over twelve years.
Living on the Autism Spectrum kept me safe because my intuition always told me when to get out and leave a place. I have stayed busy, constantly re-working my options, trying to find what works for me. Flexibility has remained key as I followed my husband around the country. I have remained constantly challenged: to do my research, try new and inventive ways to deal with my learning differences, accept who I am and be the best I can.
Without my learning differences, I am sure I would have
• given up;
• jumped off a cliff;
• checked into a psych ward – oh, I forgot! I did that too! More on that later.
To go along with this Blog I want to recommend a video I saw on YouTube with Mark Spurlock titled “Worst and Best Jobs for People with ADD/ADHD,” also included as part of the Autism Spectrum. I found it helpful with his explanation of which careers are best for people with people Living on the Autism Spectrum.
As always, tell us your thoughts. Are we helping anyone? Or, if not, are we at least helping you laugh at how we all live “life in an amusement park?”©
“Science and technology can create a rich and wealthy environment. However, it tends to make us feel that we can do anything.”
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