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MrGrey

Transitioning to Adulthood

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MrGrey

  I want to know the stories of people with Asperger's and their transition to adulthood.  Did you transitioned early or at the same time as NTs?  Or are you late and working on it?  Did you got a job while still in high school?  What happened after high school? Did you went to work, or college, or both, or none?  When did you leaved your parent's home and how did you afford to leave the nest and stay away from the nest?

 

  I started everything early.  I got my driver's license at 16 while on my senior year of high school.  I saved from my allowances about $1000 bucks, Dad helped with another $1000 and got me a beat up car.  Then there was a job fair at the school.  Me and a whole bunch of my classmates got jobs at a supermarket chain.  It was only really possible for kids who had cars.  Public transportation was just not reliable enough.  We would go to school, then drive to work, then go home... at 16yo.  

  Then the front door neighbor girl happened.  I had a car, and a job, and money for dates... and a girlfriend.  Life was good.

  She started dropping grades, her family forbid her from continuing a relationship... annndddd... we ran away.  We graduated, went to prom and never came back.  I rented a studio, asked to work full time, skipped college for a bit and did the whole live-in gf stuff, at 16yo.  Been on my own since.  

  Times have changed tho.  You can't even drive around at 16 on your own, it's illegal.  Let alone rent a place.  In retrospect, it was a mistake.  That ended in a divorce 5 years later.  Set me back on college and everything that came after that.  Not the worst mistake I made, I had even bigger screw-ups later on.  But the point is, I started early, too early and it was hard.  I could not understand why coworkers got mad at each others, the backstabbing, the boss's pets, the work politics... it took me decades to work those out.  

  I would have been way better off if I had just broke up with the gf, stay in course with college, keep the part time and maybe try out different jobs while still on the safety net of my parent's home.  And not just work.  I tried every romantic relationship like if "it has to be perfect, this is the one!".  That resulted in me bending over backwards trying to save things that were not destined to be in the first place.  

 

 

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DC1346
1 hour ago, MrGrey said:

  I want to know the stories of people with Asperger's and their transition to adulthood.  Did you transitioned early or at the same time as NTs?  Or are you late and working on it?  Did you got a job while still in high school?  What happened after high school? Did you went to work, or college, or both, or none?  When did you leaved your parent's home and how did you afford to leave the nest and stay away from the nest?

 

I grew up in an upper middle class family. My father was in the service and I spent my childhood years in Ghana, Thailand, and El Salvador. I attended international American schools and my first real experience with U.S. public schools was when I was a junior. Unlike the private schools I had attended, public schools are supposed to educate everyone ... whether they want to be in school or not. I went from schools with honor's classes (before AP became more common) to being in classes with students who ranged from having academic deficiencies and poor attitudes to students who were bright and gifted. The class sizes were also much larger. I hated it and made a concerted effort to graduate at the end of my junior year in '77.  My father sent  me off to college when I was 17. He paid for my tuition and included dormitory fees and textbooks. Anything I wanted beyond that I had to earn myself. I worked part time for the university library system for pocket money and worked full time stocking groceries at a Safeway during the summer.

I didn't like the university. The food was awful. The dormitories were noisy. Everyone seemed to enjoy playing loud music at all hours of the night. During my first year, I had to room with a guy who had a perpetually runny nose. We had desks on opposite sides of the room. He would blow his notes on a tissue and would then turn around and throw it at my waste basket. By the end of the day, a dozen dirty tissues were littered on the floor around my wastebasket. I really hated my room mate.

As bad as public school had been, I thought the university was worse. Instead of being in a class of 35-40 students, I was now in a class with 300+ students. The auditorium sized classrooms were loud and distracting. It was hard to focus and people were constantly whispering and passing notes. 

I wasn't diagnosed with autism until much later in life otherwise I might have attended a much smaller school than a university. A couple of years of community college would have allowed me to complete all of the underclass requirements such as history and composition. Those were the classes with hundreds of students. I think class sizes at a community college would have been smaller. Of course, with perfect hindsight, all of us would be lotto winners. Since I didn't know I was autistic, I did the best I could to fit in, to make friends, and to have a normal life.

I have struggled with friendships for many years. It hasn't been easy for me to make friends and since I'm not a good judge of character, many of the friends I've made have been "users" who liked having me as a friend because I did things for them. I made meals, I loaned them money, I bought them birthday and Christmas presents ... and never once did they make me a meal or offer to treat me to a dinner. They never repaid the money and I never got any presents. 

I graduated from the university and became an elementary teacher. I spent 17 years teaching grades 3-5. Since I didn't know I was autistic, I'd work for a district until my stress levels became acute. In time, the stress over my interactions with building administration, colleagues, and even challenging students whose parents never seemed to believe that their precious children could do anything so crass as to tell their teacher to, "F**k off," would cause me to leave and I'd be off to another job. During this time I earned a Master's degree in Education. 

In '91, I took a teaching job abroad at a private international American school overseas. I spent 8 years abroad and worked in 2 different countries before returning stateside.

Unable to readjust to teaching in the public schools, I opted out and went to culinary school. After graduating with honors, I worked in the food service industry for 4 years. Although I enjoyed working with food, I HATED the hours. In 2005, I literally worked 84 hours a week and since my boss kept calling me into work on my days off, I only had 5 days off for that year. Since I was under contract, I was really taken advantage of. Although my contract specified a minimum of 50 hours a week, there was no maximum and because I was under contract, there was no added pay. 

A friend suggested that I go back into education ... this time as a Culinary Arts teacher. I did just that in 2007. I used my industry work experience and the fact that I had a Master's in Education to get a provisional teaching certificate as a high school Culinary Arts teacher. I have now been teaching high school for 11 years and have spent 28 years in the field of education.

I didn't learn I was autistic until I was in my early 50's. The diagnosis came as a complete surprise. I had gotten a kid with Asperger's and since I didn't know what Asperger's was, I googled it. As I read the symptoms, I found myself thinking ... OMG ... I can totally relate to this list. 

I initially took an on-line test which suggested I was autistic. I then went to a psychiatrist for a clinical diagnosis. 

Knowing that I was autistic was a real eye opener. Several things happened after I confirmed this diagnosis.

  1. I stopped having problems with depression. i was once diagnosed with chronic depression because I couldn't figure out why I couldn't fit in. Why did I struggle with friendships and relationships while other people had busy social lives? Once I knew WHY I was the way I was, my depression literally dissipated overnight. 
  2. I was working at a large school with nearly 3,400 students. I had 54 students in my largest classes in a kitchen that was only designed to accommodate 36. Since I work in a large district, I was able to transfer to a much smaller school. My largest class at this school has been 24 students. I have the same size kitchen as I did at my previous school. My work related stress is now much lower. I also let friendships that I had made at my other school lapse because of the move ... and I have made no effort to make new friends because developing and maintaining friendships is exhausting. Now that I know that I'm autistic, I've given permission to myself to embrace the life of a reclusive introvert. When I'm at work, I do my job but when I'm not at work, I keep to myself. Although this self-imposed isolation would have bothered me prior to having learned that I was autistic, it doesn't bother me at all now. I revel in my privacy and look forward to my 2 month long summer vacations when I don't have to interact with anyone.
  3. My building administration knows that I'm autistic and they've given me some accommodations. At the start of the current school year, I was excused from having to attend a day long faculty meeting with the combined staffs of three schools. My supervisor knew that this would be noisy and stressful and I was excused to work in my classroom and kitchen. I have also been excused from attending pep rallies which as you might imagine are really noisy because of all of the screaming kids. From time to time if I have an altercation with a colleague, administration will step in to mediate. Under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, my employer is legally required to provide reasonable accommodations for me since I'm (technically) disabled ... hence my excused absences from selected meetings as well as pep rallies along with administrative mediation should I have a problem with a colleague.
  4. Knowing that I'm autistic, I've been able to suppress my flight response whenever I've gotten stressed out. During my 3 years at my new school, I've actually offered to resign 4 times due to various stress triggers but admin has always been able to calm me down and to help make things right. 

I wish I had known I was autistic years ago. If I had known I was autistic, I might have stayed abroad. I might have chosen other paths than the ones I have followed.

With this being said, I'm not in a bad place. My administrators appreciate me. My immediate supervisor even gave me a PERFECT teacher score for this year's professional evaluation. And after budget cuts necessitated cutting loose (surplussing) an electives teacher, I was not the teacher who was let go. They terminated my department chair, who teaches business ... but not to worry. Since we work for a large district, he was able to take an internal transfer to another school.

My life is also much more simple than it was. I have work and I have home. I have no other distractions and the lack of distractions has really helped to reduce my overall levels of stress. 

I do not regret not having a significant other and/or not having a family. Since I'm on the spectrum and since all of us on the spectrum are different, I don't feel the need for physical or emotional intimacy. I don't feel lonely and because I now know that I'm autistic, I don't feel guilty for not having friends or family. 

I am a bit worried about the future. The only problem with having had so many jobs is that I  never really built up any retirement savings in an employer provided pension program. My father tells me not to worry ... that if he dies before my stepmother, my stepmother will then in turn will me her entire estate after she passes. I'm not holding my breath for this since my stepmother hates me. I also know that my father cannot legally have my stepmother leave me anything. If he were to pass before she did, according to his will, everything would be hers and she would not be under any legal obligation to leave me with anything. She's already told me that if my father passes before she does, she will liquidate his multi-million dollar estate and will move abroad.

 

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Primeape

What about transitioning later than NT's im sure you never mentioned that?

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RiRi

@Not here What do you mean? It seems like the OP is bragging. Though, I got my first job before he did. So I guess I beat him in that. :lol:

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RiRi

I don't post threads where I know I'm better than other people. I just don't. 

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Primeape
15 minutes ago, RiRi said:

@Not here What do you mean? It seems like the OP is bragging. Though, I got my first job before he did. So I guess I beat him in that. :lol:

Ive confused myself :lol: but yeah i guess it can be classed as bragging 

Im a bit behind the time of when people are meant to grow up tbh thats all i can say aboug my adulthood :lol:

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RiRi

@Not here oh ok, no worries. I'm behind too. :lol:

Edited by RiRi

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Primeape

@RiRi wonder if anyone else are behind

Edited by Not here

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RiRi

@Not here I personally think more of us on this forum are behind. That's why I thought this thread could be classified as bragging and not appropriate for this forum since most of us transitioned late or haven't transitioned yet.

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Primeape

@RiRi i understand what you mean :) thanks for explaining, yeah i guess if can make others feel insecure about the they are 

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