Amber had requested insight on being an autistic in everyday life. How do we do life? What if our autistic traits are “severe”? Sure enough, we had a clear example last night of how to set boundaries on our life choices that are in tune with our neurology.
Jeff reached home before I did and I could tell as I walked in that he had some less than thrilling news. He resigned from the internship at the bank. Then, like a good wife, I barraged him with questions, “Were your co-workers unfriendly? Were they not pleased with you? Did you feel in over your head in the technical aspects of the job??”
None of the above. Jeff realized that the demanding atmosphere of the networking room and 24/7 on-call was too much stress. He wanted a different environment, one where he could keep regular hours and a semblance of a routine. This was more valuable to him, and to me, than having a nifty internship on his resume.
The key to our autistic existence is knowing where our boundaries are. They are like buffer zones between what might be the best course of action and what would probably cause melt-downs, failures, and general unhappiness. It sounds like common sense for any one, Neurotypical or Neurodiverse. I think our autistic traits magnify our strengths to the point where we know what we would be best doing with our jobs and personal lives. This saves much fumbling around (been there, done that for the last 27+ years!).
This is NOT to say that autistics shouldn’t try new jobs/relationships because they were told/or tell themselves they can’t cross that line. For instance, “Most autistics never marry or produce unhappy marriages.” We are ecstatically breaking that stereotype. 🙂 The secret is finding ways to break the stereotypes and still maintain a level of peacefulness with our autistic tendencies. We just happen to have found out we both are on the spectrum after our marriage. This has made us happier, I think, than before.
An example for my own life is following special interests. Since I was a teenager, I have been fascinated with childbirth and thought I would become a midwife someday. As time has passed, I learned that there were certain things about midwifery that I would probably not be able to integrate into my life: sleep-deprivation, enormous amounts of responsibility, interpersonal skills at a high level, and unpredictable schedules. Instead of pursuing that path, I will most likely gain credentials in Childbirth Education and Pregnancy Coaching. I love teaching and learning! This way, I can still be involved with my interest (and with other people) but not set myself up for a possibly scary or tragic outcome.
Jeff learned from his experience at the bank that he is an excellent interviewee. The supervisor told him that he seemed like he really wanted the position. Well, duuuh, isn’t that why you interview for a job or internship? Apparently other people weren’t as enthusiastic. For an autistic, if you are serious about something, of course you will put forth the effort to get it. 😉