Mental Health Autism

MEJHarrison

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I have a questions and figured this was a good place to look for some advise.

So 7-8 years back, my sister told me "You're autistic. Trust me, I work with autistic kids every day at school". I took it as a joke. Over the years, I shared that joke with others and got "I can see that", "she's probably on to something", "you mean you didn't already know that?". The usual stuff. I shrugged it off. I worked with an autistic guy and was nothing like him. I ran across the AQ test and thought why not? It's 50 questions. Seems like it's a legit test and not just a "find your Disney princess name" level nonsense. So I took it. And then I was SURE I had no issues. My answers couldn't have been more middle of the road. You don't get to age 53 and just not know stuff like that. Mystery solved.

Then I got my score. I got a 33. That put me in the "if you scored 33 to 50" range. That's out of 50. I landed in the highest group you can score. :ROFLMAO:

So first of all, that's not a diagnosis. It simply suggests that it's pretty darn likely. I may or may not dig more. But the people in my life are telling me "yeah, that's probably pretty accurate for you". So shocking or not, I'm accepting it for now.

Second, finding this out actually brings me great joy. I'm shy. I'm an introvert. But generally speaking, I feel I've had a fairly blessed life. I'm not different than I was a week ago. I just feel like I finally found the instruction manual for my specific model. I'm already making connections I'd not noticed before. I'm finding behaviors I'd considered normal my whole life might not be as normal as I'd thought. I'm thinking how I can use this new information to my advantage. So far, for my particular set of circumstances, this is all fantastic news.

Here's a recent "a-ha" moment I had. I watched a video on smalltalk for autistic people. In my opinion, smalltalk is torture. Then I asked someone why they would spend 20 minutes talking to a stranger on the bench she'll never meet again. I get that he's lonely, but why spill all those personal details with someone who doesn't really need to know your personal business. Her answer was that it's the conversation itself that is rewarding. She enjoys the smalltalk and meeting people. It was hard to wrap my head around that. I'm fine meeting a stranger when I know there's going to be something stimulating come from it, some reward, an interesting conversation, new knowledge acquired, an exchange of interesting ideas, a common interest beyond the temperature and inventory of one's offspring. But 20 minutes of nonsense for no bigger purpose? That just doesn't compute. I've since accepted it. But it was a mind-blowing moment for me. Like, THAT'S WHY YOU DO THAT?????

So now I'm hungry for knowledge. I looked around for a good forum. A place where I can meet and talk to other people like me. I found one decent forum, but hated the layout. Then the first post I saw was someone talking about perhaps just ending things. That is definitely not what I need to be learning about at this point. I feel extremely fortunate and know others actually have real consequences that can be horrible. The guy I worked with has a Phd and can't keep a job. He's stutters, but it's sentences, not words. He gets 3 sentences into his thoughts, then starts over from the first sentence again. And again. And again. I just don't need to fill my head with their sad stories at this point. Any suggestions? I'm just looking to learn more.

I also can't decide what to tell people are work. I don't think I have enough information on that just yet to make a decision. I've been with the company 20 years next May. I'm not the least bit worried about my position. We're a non-profit Catholic health insurance company. We're all about compassion and stuff like that. That other autistic guy we actually hired and he didn't work out and then we hired him again a few years later and he didn't work out again. My employment is completely secure. I can communicate like a pro. Especially now that phone calls (another torture) are dying out and I can work from home. I just don't want it to seem like I have a good excuse in my back pocket. I've got this far by being me, I wouldn't dream of using it as any sort of excuse. Not that I typically find myself in situations needing an excuse to begin with, but still. No special treatment. On the other hand, knowing what I know could be valuable to both the people I work with and those above me. Perhaps I do odd things and never even noticed them as odd behavior. This might help people understand. And since autism isn't exactly rare in my profession, there's a fair chance my boss has dealt with situations like this is the past and could have useful advice. So I'm kicking that idea back and forth.

I'm also kind of wanting to share my news with the world. But am still not sure if that's wise or not. So I figured this would be a good safe place to share what I've learned so far. It's a small group of people here and strangers, but not strangers. So I have a much higher comfort level here than anywhere else.

So that's my story. I'm open to any advice, questions, criticism, whatever you have. I'm all but ignorant about this topic, so I'll take anything ya got.
 

Alli

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Congratulations and welcome to the club. We use the phrase “on the spectrum” because Autism covers such a wide range of behaviors and thoughts. Many more people are on the spectrum than have ever been diagnosed, and chances are if you were not diagnosed as a child it won’t happen in adulthood. Many physicians don’t believe in adult autism. (I’m sure @P_X can chime in here.)
 
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I have a questions and figured this was a good place to look for some advise.

So 7-8 years back, my sister told me "You're autistic. Trust me, I work with autistic kids every day at school". I took it as a joke. Over the years, I shared that joke with others and got "I can see that", "she's probably on to something", "you mean you didn't already know that?". The usual stuff. I shrugged it off. I worked with an autistic guy and was nothing like him. I ran across the AQ test and thought why not? It's 50 questions. Seems like it's a legit test and not just a "find your Disney princess name" level nonsense. So I took it. And then I was SURE I had no issues. My answers couldn't have been more middle of the road. You don't get to age 53 and just not know stuff like that. Mystery solved.

Then I got my score. I got a 33. That put me in the "if you scored 33 to 50" range. That's out of 50. I landed in the highest group you can score. :ROFLMAO:

So first of all, that's not a diagnosis. It simply suggests that it's pretty darn likely. I may or may not dig more. But the people in my life are telling me "yeah, that's probably pretty accurate for you". So shocking or not, I'm accepting it for now.

Second, finding this out actually brings me great joy. I'm shy. I'm an introvert. But generally speaking, I feel I've had a fairly blessed life. I'm not different than I was a week ago. I just feel like I finally found the instruction manual for my specific model. I'm already making connections I'd not noticed before. I'm finding behaviors I'd considered normal my whole life might not be as normal as I'd thought. I'm thinking how I can use this new information to my advantage. So far, for my particular set of circumstances, this is all fantastic news.

Here's a recent "a-ha" moment I had. I watched a video on smalltalk for autistic people. In my opinion, smalltalk is torture. Then I asked someone why they would spend 20 minutes talking to a stranger on the bench she'll never meet again. I get that he's lonely, but why spill all those personal details with someone who doesn't really need to know your personal business. Her answer was that it's the conversation itself that is rewarding. She enjoys the smalltalk and meeting people. It was hard to wrap my head around that. I'm fine meeting a stranger when I know there's going to be something stimulating come from it, some reward, an interesting conversation, new knowledge acquired, an exchange of interesting ideas, a common interest beyond the temperature and inventory of one's offspring. But 20 minutes of nonsense for no bigger purpose? That just doesn't compute. I've since accepted it. But it was a mind-blowing moment for me. Like, THAT'S WHY YOU DO THAT?????

So now I'm hungry for knowledge. I looked around for a good forum. A place where I can meet and talk to other people like me. I found one decent forum, but hated the layout. Then the first post I saw was someone talking about perhaps just ending things. That is definitely not what I need to be learning about at this point. I feel extremely fortunate and know others actually have real consequences that can be horrible. The guy I worked with has a Phd and can't keep a job. He's stutters, but it's sentences, not words. He gets 3 sentences into his thoughts, then starts over from the first sentence again. And again. And again. I just don't need to fill my head with their sad stories at this point. Any suggestions? I'm just looking to learn more.

I also can't decide what to tell people are work. I don't think I have enough information on that just yet to make a decision. I've been with the company 20 years next May. I'm not the least bit worried about my position. We're a non-profit Catholic health insurance company. We're all about compassion and stuff like that. That other autistic guy we actually hired and he didn't work out and then we hired him again a few years later and he didn't work out again. My employment is completely secure. I can communicate like a pro. Especially now that phone calls (another torture) are dying out and I can work from home. I just don't want it to seem like I have a good excuse in my back pocket. I've got this far by being me, I wouldn't dream of using it as any sort of excuse. Not that I typically find myself in situations needing an excuse to begin with, but still. No special treatment. On the other hand, knowing what I know could be valuable to both the people I work with and those above me. Perhaps I do odd things and never even noticed them as odd behavior. This might help people understand. And since autism isn't exactly rare in my profession, there's a fair chance my boss has dealt with situations like this is the past and could have useful advice. So I'm kicking that idea back and forth.

I'm also kind of wanting to share my news with the world. But am still not sure if that's wise or not. So I figured this would be a good safe place to share what I've learned so far. It's a small group of people here and strangers, but not strangers. So I have a much higher comfort level here than anywhere else.

So that's my story. I'm open to any advice, questions, criticism, whatever you have. I'm all but ignorant about this topic, so I'll take anything ya got.
Oh, I loved reading this:) It's absolutely fine, and I think this knowledge is liberating to many people. Aspergers is a natural and important factor in our neurodiversity. Also, I checked an online AQ test (not sure how well it follows the original), then looked up the validation paper. I'm a good reference because I'm very analytical minded too (in fact I noticed that I enjoyed memorizing percentages in med school way more than my peers) and I agree with you about the small talk on a bench. I understand the emotional value of the transaction but also generally find the information exchange value low, the process tedious and not initiate it, just politely facilitating when approached. Yet, I got 16 (super average). I'll say you should engage this as it is sort of a super power as long as you are aware of your kryptonites.
 
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MEJHarrison

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Congratulations and welcome to the club. We use the phrase “on the spectrum” because Autism covers such a wide range of behaviors and thoughts. Many more people are on the spectrum than have ever been diagnosed, and chances are if you were not diagnosed as a child it won’t happen in adulthood. Many physicians don’t believe in adult autism. (I’m sure @P_X can chime in here.)

I'll have to accept the "on the spectrum" thing. I've seen it everywhere. I don't care for it because it doesn't really give this "thing" a name, it's more a description. But I'll accept that's what people like calling it. :)
 
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It's unfortunate that many people simply don't want to get diagnosed. :(
 
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MEJHarrison

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I'll say you should engage this as it is sort of a super power as long as you are aware of your kryptonites.

That's how I've been taking it so far. I'm also being careful to take it easy. When I saw one of the traits was hyper-productivity followed by burnout, I instantly recognized that. In fact, it's something I went through as recently as a couple weeks back. I went through a month or more of getting off from work and turning on YouTube for the evening and "learning" till bed time. And my weekends were consumed entirely. That's all I did was work, sleep and learn. It all culminated with doing a demo for my team. The next step, and something I've been told I need to advanced at work to the next level, is to share knowledge with the entire department. So I did my demo. Got the timing worked out. Got the demo down solid. Figured out what went well and what didn't. The next step now is just schedule something to show the whole department. And I just can't. I'm done for now. I know my boss is really looking forward to this, but he's just going to have a wait a couple weeks (at least) at this point. I'll get back to it, but I don't want to do one of these and not have a second idea lined up for the next time, just in case people love it and there is a next time. So until that point, I'm on hold.

So my desire is to jump into this "autism" thing with both feet and learn what I can. But I'm fighting that urge. Forcing myself to have breaks. Trying to take in a little every day.

I was watching a video recently and he mentioned high school. I thought back to high school and I think that's where my life hopped the rails. I was solidly on my way to being invisible in high school. I would have been the loner off by myself or at best, hanging out with all the other weirdos in school. My social anxieties are a real thing. Then a friend talked me into joining the wrestling team. I still can't figure out why I said yes, but I did. He quit about 2 days later when he found out it was hard, but I stuck with it. Didn't want the embarrassment and humiliation of being a "quitter". I can't hit, I can't throw, I can't catch, I don't enjoy sports period, but boy could I wrestle! Mid-way through the season I made the varsity team and I was only a freshman. Suddenly someone who just wanted to spend the whole day IN my locker was now "a jock". People knew who I was. They spoke to me in the halls. I heard my name in pep rallies and had cheerleaders decorating my locker. I found I could take my lunch and sit with the jocks, the cheerleaders, the smart kids, the weirdos, etc. and I routinely did eat with all of them. I was thrust into a "normal" life. My name and photo were not just in the school paper, but the town paper as well. Then my parents signed me up for off-season wrestling and I did that every year after the high school season ended. I probably could have taken it further, but I told my coach I really wasn't interested. It was a fun game in high school, but I wanted college to be about building my future, not about rolling around on foam mats playing grab-ass with the other guys. Plus, after 4 years of it, I couldn't say I ever truly enjoyed it. It was something that made others happy and something I happened to be good at.

Without those 4 years, high school years no less, telling me I was really no different than any other kid in school, I'm not sure I'd be the happy, well-adjusted person I am today. I've spent my whole life appreciating all the things I learned from wrestling. How to be a good loser. How to be a good winner. Taking personal responsibility since there was no one else to blame for the outcome. How to handle unfair situations like a bad ref. And so on. But I'd never considered until last night how that might have steered my whole life into a new, healthier path. It truly did change my life for the better. Even if I didn't care all that much about it. Certainly not as much as those around me.
 
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MEJHarrison

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It's unfortunate that many people simply don't want to get diagnosed. :(

I don't get it either. But at the same time, I can recognize this is all new to me. At this point it's all nice and pretty and shiny and exciting. But I know there's that dark underbelly part as well. So my inclination at this point is why wouldn't I eventually find out for sure? I'm scientific. To me there's a world a difference between "you almost certainly are" and "yes, you are". But I'm trying to tread carefully until I feel more comfortable.
 

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Truth is we are all a little bit on the Spectrum. My daughter was diagnosed at 9. Unfortunately the first Dr we had the misfortune to meet didn't diagnose it. She decided we (well my wife mostly), must be harming our daughter as she couldn't understand her presentation. So after a three month stay in hospital (during which we went through hell and my daughter stopped eating) where we could only see her for an hour a day at one point whilst she was on a ward full of anorexic self harming teenagers, we finally got her home with her diagnosis. Well I say that. She was never the same person again. At 14 we lost her completely. She would be 20 this year.
During the diagnosis process you recognise certain things in yourself where you have traits. More so in my wife. But she has never had a formal diagnosis. Whats the point. They can't treat it, cure it or make allowances for it. Plus if I'm honest neither of us really like doctors since this experience.
Good luck with it.
 

DT

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Yet, I got 16 (super average).

Dude.

PNG image.png
 
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MEJHarrison

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I'll say you should engage this as it is sort of a super power as long as you are aware of your kryptonites.

Of all the things I've heard and read lately, that's the thing that stands out in my mind. I've shared that sentence multiple times now. So I thought you might appreciate this story.

I watched a YouTube video recently about 9 Positive Autistic Traits. He also goes into how they can be bad traits if you’re not careful. The one that stood out to me is rule following. On the plus side, it can give someone a strong sense of justice. On the negative side, it can lead to getting stuck on rules and fairness. That one hit me hard. My biggest pet peeve has always been nice drivers. I love nice people. I consider myself a nice person. But when I’m in the car, I’m driving a lethal weapon that can kill me, my passengers and those around me. One of the things we do to keep people safe is come up with a system of rules, so everyone knows what to do in any given situation. People know what you’re going to do and you know what they’re going to do. Then we all get where we want to go safely. So when I see some jackass stop at a green light and wave the other person on even though they have a red light, it kind of irks me. A lot! That’s NOT how we all get to where we want to be safely (Spectrum, or no Spectrum, I still stand by that too!) However, I can see myself taking it too far as well. Someone pulled in front of us on the road last week with no warning, no signals, not enough space and so on. Normally that’s one of my big triggers. This time I handled it completely differently.

So someone was a bad driver which is only a hair better than a nice driver. But I thought I’m not driving their car, I don’t know what situation they’re facing at this point in time, I don’t know their motivations, I’m not driving THIS car, I trust the driver of this car, she handled it safely, she handled it like a mature adult, she didn’t get upset and no one was hurt… so maybe it’s one of those things I should just drop because the alternative isn’t reasonable behavior for the situation. And I did. Like magic, I just let it go and moved on and completely forgot about it as quickly as you could snap your fingers. Once I realized *I* was the party being unreasonable in the situation, it was easy to see the problem and correct it.

So my new approach on life when something gets me out of my comfortable rut is to ask myself if this is something that is actually a big deal or is it just me being me. If I’m putting hurdles in my path for no logical reason, then perhaps I could just move those to the side and keep going.
 
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MEJHarrison

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This post prompted me to take the test and my score is 20 - fairly low. Maybe I am just an asshole with a great memory.

I'd recommend this video:

It's only about 10 minutes and he'll walk you through what the test is and isn't, what it's good at measuring and what it's not good at measuring and so on. The quick version is it's better with high scores than low scores.
 
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MEJHarrison

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One of this things I've come across as a possible sign is something along the lines of "were you odd or different as a child?" A different thread here had me thinking about math. And that reminds me of a story from my childhood where I was clearly odd and different (in relation to my peers). This might be my earliest memory of being different.

In the first grade, I had to do math with a couple other kids in the back of the room. We were too advanced, so we got our own math work. That's not the odd part. Just pointing out that I've always been good with math and numbers since the beginning.

It was summer break after 1st grade. The sun was out. It was a nice day. We had a nice tire swing. Woods to play in out back. It was a really old house back in Ohio and the property had purple and green grapes, apples, peaches, plums and cherries. We didn't even need to stop for lunch or dinner and could eat on the go. So of course I was in the basement doing math on the chalkboard. But that's not the odd part either.

I was doing stuff like 5+5=10, 5+5+5=15, 5+5+5+5=20, etc. I was writing it out on the chalkboard and staring at it. Then it was like the whole world shifted 90 degrees. Suddenly I saw the pattern clear as day. 2 5's is 10, 3 5's is 15, 4 5's is 20, etc. And just like that, I knew how to multiply numbers and division was right behind it. Figured it all out on my own in-between 1st and 2nd grade. That's the odd part.
 
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MEJHarrison

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:cautious: Uh...

It does explain a thing or two.

That's kind of how I felt. Like lots of little things falling into place. I had a whole new perspective on a lot of things. Days of "a-ha!" moments popping into my head from out of the blue. Just be sure to check out the video above if you've not already. He'll go into what the test is and isn't, what it's good at detecting and what it's not good at detecting, and so on. I got a lot more out of it watching it a second time after the test.
 

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Just exploring Talked About a bit more. I thought I'd chime in.. I have Aspergers.. somewhere on the spectrum. One physiatrist diagnosed me back in 2010, others before him said I had symptoms and was on the spectrum. I'm not very social, but I feel a major part of that is due to my hearing loss (born with it) makes it incredible stressful to try and talk with someone in a noisy environment like a coffee shop, bar, restaurant, concert, party, etc. Hearing aids can only do so much on those situations

I'm also super focused on my interests. I've always been taking things apart to see how they work since I was a little boy. I'm laser focused on Apple, audio, technology, cars, and politics. I could talk to someone for hours about those topics. I read up on those topics. I'd go into more detail, but break time is over.
 

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