Significant Challenges in a High Functioning Autistic Adult

Here’s a list of some of the significant autism related challenges in a high functioning autistic adult:

Hopefully, if we know our challenges, it can lead to better support.

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Subtle Signs that Autistic People may need Support

I felt that when I needed support, my symptoms were too subtle that the need was easily overlooked.

I have the impression that people thought that my struggles were only minor starting early adulthood. I’ve been told that I don’t look autistic when I mentioned about the issue.

Underestimating autism doesn’t seem uncommon. Autism advocacy articles mentioned about people who are diagnosed late in life, how autism is commonly missed in females, and the possibility that children who “outgrew” their autism may need support.

I’ve been hired before and I felt that shortly after that, people seem to think that I’m out of the woods. What we should be aware of is that autistic people often need support to be successful in their jobs.

They often need different approaches than non-autistic people do. Statistically speaking, being employed is the norm rather than exception for non-autistic people. It shouldn’t be too surprising that two of my classmates in college didn’t find job interviews difficult. For autistic people and many people with other disabilities, it’s often the reverse.

Here are the subtle signs that autistic people may need support:

  • Lack of productivity
  • Lack of progress
  • Decreasing performance
  • Lack of connections
  • Zoning out
  • Not engaged at school or work
  • Difficulties focusing
  • Struggling with job interviews
  • Trouble keeping jobs
  • Apparent loss of previously learned skills
  • Difficulties multi-tasking
  • Changes in symptoms or abilities in overly stimulating environments
  • Forgetfulness
  • Below average performance
  • Appearing uninterested
  • Other autism symptoms getting worse

I had to do my own research to find out some of the support that I need. I learned that my condition may actually be too subtle to even trained people or maybe I don’t know how to ask for help.

It took me so long to discover that sensory overload was significant and not something that you can really get used to. Recently, I’ve been getting more support. Before that, I tend to avoid discussing about autism. Thankfully, I was recommended employment services earlier this year.

Other support that I need may include: written and clear instructions, specific questions to confirm understanding, less relying on hinting, quiet work areas, less switch tasking, no need to act as perfectly non-autistic as possible, paying more attention to internal indicators such as freshness levels, and less distractions.

Not every autistic person experiences autism the same way that they don’t always have the same symptoms. If their symptoms are milder, is it likely that it’s partly attributed to the support that they’re already getting? People suspected that Temple Grandin’s support may have helped her to succeed in her career.

It’s important to address our weakest links and root causes rather than treating only the symptoms. For example, no matter how talented you are, it’s harder to learn your favorite subject in a language that you don’t understand. Instead of changing the field thinking that it’s not the person’s gift, why not have it learned differently?

Asperger’s: The Fountain of Youth

An Aspie's view on Christianity, Aspergers, Bullying, and everything inbetween

During the time that I have spent talking with other people on the spectrum, I have realized that most, if not all, of us on the spectrum tend to either feel or act much younger than our actual age. One of my friends recently suggested that I discuss this further, so I decided to dedicate my latest entry to this topic.

My entire life I have always felt younger than the rest of my peers, and I was told many times growing up that I acted younger than I truly was, as well as that I seemed to be younger emotionally as well. This didn’t become incredibly apparent until I hit my teenage years. As a child I didn’t think much of it, and neither did those around me, but it became a much larger problem when I was a teenager and in upper middle school/high school.

As a teenager…

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Is it Difficult for Autistic People to Describe their Challenges?

Here’s a list of the some reasons why it may be difficult for autistic people to describe their challenges especially during conversations.

  • Not knowing when interrupting is allowed in conversations.
  • Sensory overload.
  • The person’s autism wasn’t very obvious.
  • Lack of awareness of the performance of others which can let us know whether we’re doing reasonably well. If not, we’ll know when to speak up.
  • Difficulties reading social cues which can provide performance feedback so that we know when to ask for support.
  • Language or other communication difficulties.
  • Lack of awareness of difficulties. How do we clearly know our difficulties if autistic people can’t experience what it’s like not to have autism and vice versa? Which difficulties are considered normal?
  • Difficulties describing or expressing emotions which may cause the difficulties to be overlooked.
  • Pressure to answer without enough time.
  • Difficulties understanding what the person was asking for? When the question how’s your day is asked at work or school, sometimes it’s an opportunity ask for support.
  • Uncertainty about how much and what information should be given when sharing challenges.
  • Difficulties multi-tasking. Conversations can have multiple topics and our challenges that we know of might be in the back of our minds when we’re concentrating on other areas or we’re busy.
  • Concerns that getting support may require too much resources although the long term cost of getting support may be lower.
  • Pressure to look non-autistic or avoid disclosing their autism.

I felt that I may have sounded vague because some people may have thought that my challenges sounded minor or were normal. I think it can be important to be clear when describing our challenges in order to get the right support. Writing an article about the issue may be preferable than describing them in conversations.

Is it difficult for autistic people to describe their challenges? What do you think?

List of Ways that Autism can be Invisible

invisible disability

Here are some possible reasons why autism can be invisible:

  • Difficulties recognizing faces were overcame by using other information.
  • What to say when socializing was memorized.
  • Social cues were memorized.
  • Stimming was suppressed. It may cause a perception that the person became less autistic.
  • Facial expression, even positive ones, were suppressed because they tend to look abnormal or exaggerated. Non-autistic people can show blank faces too.
  • Sensory overload was reduced by avoiding triggers such as noisy environments.
  • Short term memory problems were overcame by keeping things in the same place. A lesson learned was to keep your cellphone with you in public places.
  • Accommodations or other forms of support weren’t taken. Certain forms of support can make the disability more obvious.
  • The autistic person didn’t speak up about the challenges. Finding a balance of how much questions is too much can be challenging. It’s also possible not be be aware of the difficulties.
  • Being spent socializing may be mistaken for a lack of interest in socializing. This makes sense because non-autistics commonly find socializing energizing. For example, socializing and long conversations after work or even in the wee hours.
  • Autistic traits may be mistaken for personality traits such as shyness, quietness, late bloomer, intellectual, or introversion which may not be considered disabilities or have serious performance concerns. Abnormal speech or slower processing times can be mistaken for a lack of confidence.
  • The person may be perceived as acting or looking younger than his or her real age. This may not look like a disability.
  • Some symptoms may be experienced by non-autistics as well. For example, it’s true that both autistic and non-autistic people have been rejected before. What’s important to note is that around 80% of autistic adults are unemployed. As of September 8th, 2017, Canada’s unemployment rate was only 6.2%!
  • Other areas of difficulties besides socializing can be overlooked. Even if they pass job interviews, they may still need support.
  • They may perform normally or above average if the task isn’t complex. There’s research saying that autism affects the entire brain which means there may be difficulties when complex tasks are performed. A possible sign is that multi-tasking is difficult. It’s common for them to have executive dysfunction.

Abnormal Sense of Taste in an Autistic Person

I didn’t think my sense of taste was abnormal as an autistic person. This makes sense because an autistic person can’t experience a non-autistic brain and vice versa.

With an abnormal sense of taste, it’s possible for the person appear to be a picky eater, or not trust his or her sense of taste.

I remember avoiding flavoured potato chips. I tend to stick to plain chips.

There are foods that I don’t seem to mind such as green smoothies and cacao. Interestingly, some people find cacao bitter but I don’t really notice its bitterness. Since dark chocolate is healthy, this may be desirable. It’s also possible to easily eat too much of it even though some people may find portion control easier with dark chocolate. I can easily eat too much dark chocolate in a sitting.

With an abnormal sense of taste, I might not be able to trust my sense of taste enough for food safety issues if there’s no heads ups. That’s why I ask people when I had to rely on my sense of smell. What if the food was spoiled or contaminated? Fermented foods may have some similarities in taste compared to spoiled foods. I’ve accidentally consumed alcoholic cocktails and didn’t remember tasting the alcohol. I ordered them because I misread the menu. I found out only after I was told about it which was too late because I already finished the second order.

 

Do Autistic People Tend to Look Younger Than They Really Are

Sometimes, I’ve been told that I look younger than my age. Even some autistic people on forums agree that they look too young.

People even thought that I looked younger than my sister who’s younger. It’s likely that autistic traits played a role. The autistic traits may include mannerisms, facial expressions, low tolerance for changes, interests or focus not broad enough, difficulties reading social cues, taking too long to answer questions, relying less on intuition, getting distracted easily, taking things literally, style of clothing, and gait.

I disclosed to an interviewer that I was autistic. He thought that I was shy possibly due to the lack of eye contact and taking too much time to answer. Acting shy might make a person also act too young.

You might think it’s always a good thing to look much younger than your age. I’ve felt the same too because I associate it with high energy levels, being active, good health, being young biologically, being fit, not smoking, good diet, good stress management, self control, good genes, and good sleep.

There are cases where we might not benefit from looking too young if it means passing as a person under 20. What if the person needs a job? Would it give the impression of a lack of experience even after having degrees under the person’s belt. It’s likely that autistic traits have more effect on employment than looking too young. I’ve heard of people under 20 who don’t have problems with interviews.

What I’ve been doing is getting support and discovering what else I need. I learned that I needed to speak up in order to get the accommodations rather than ignore my concerns, thinking that I will outgrow them.