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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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RiRi

@Not here No problem :) And yes, i believe it can. 

Edited by RiRi

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Sanctuary

I certainly think my transition to adulthood occurred later in many respects. I never did a part-time job when I was at school, college or university. i never wanted to do one and worry that it could have distracted me from studies also put me off. This might be an issue with multi-tasking but for me it connected with other issues. Those people who do part-time jobs when they're studying often do so because the money will pay for things like nights-out, holidays or buying and running a car. These things didn't interest me so this need for extra income passed me by.

When I went to university the original plan for me was to live on campus although my home wasn't that far away. However I wasn't ready in any way for that kind of independent living. I had cold feet even before going and only lasted three days before moving back home. I still regret that to this day although I understand why I did it. Even doing a month on campus would have helped me get to know other students as well as making me more independent. 

As an adult I have lived by myself and generally been able to get work and manage finances. However there are still many aspects of typical adult life that have passed me by. I have almost no experience of intimate relationships let alone cohabitation, marriage and children. Extensive home improvements, holidays, entertaining visitors and moving houses or jobs (except when I've had to) are all things I've largely avoided due to combinations of lack of interest in these things and anxieties about doing them. Others with AS have more experience of these things and maybe have embraced them strongly but I do feel conscious that I am "out of step" with typical adult experiences.

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Laurie

I feel a lot of people in this forum are a lot older than me! But that's good, then I can learn from them! I'm in my early 20's and was born in an upper middle class family. I'm so lucky and blessed to have a such a nice and supportive family. I went to public high school but then switched to a private school my junior year of high school. I started driving my junior year when I was 17 (I was held back in kindergarten) and have been driving ever since. My parents wanted me to attend university in my hometown (which I really didn't want to attend before starting) but I grew to love my university and graduated with a BA in psychology. I got my coding certification to work in the medical field and have been working for medical companies full time since graduating from college. i've always been a little behind socially. I've never had a boyfriend but hopefully will soon.

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Heather

I feel like I transitioned to adulthood a bit later in a lot of ways, though maybe not far from the "typical" in other ways.  But I think everyone has a unique story to tell and it is okay if we do not reach milestones the same time as our peers seem to.

I did not have a job until after high school. I wanted to have a job, even applied at a few places.  Though I did not have too much motivation to get a job as I did not have a lot of expenses!  I grew up in a low-middle working-class household.  Growing up, I went to a private Christian school so was around a lot of people who were relatively well off, but not like the expensive private schools I have viewed on TV and in movies. :D

I got my first job when I was 18.  I went to a local university right after high school because I felt I was supposed to because I did fairly well in school.  But I did not know what I wanted to study so I was enrolled in a general program path and took different types of courses, trying to get an idea. I was not taking a full course load and was working part-time. I started my job about a month into my studies. I finally had more motivation to get the job since I had finished high school and knew I needed to be more independent. I also got my first cell phone around that time as a gift from my mom.

I think the main way that I feel like I am behind compared to my peers is that I still do not have my drivers license and I am 27.  I have had my learner's permit twice (it expires after 2 years). The first time was when I was 16 and I got it a few months after my birthday. I got more or less comfortable driving with my mom but did not drive enough to be ready to take the road test to get my Novice permit.  It expired when I was 18. I got my Learners for the second time when I was 19.  I actually went for a road test, I failed.  But then I let that one expire too.  I think in hindsight, I can see why I let it expire, because, at that point in time, I started talking to someone who became my first boyfriend.  

I entered my first relationship at 20.  I flew internationally for the first time, and it was also my first flight, and my first flight alone, when I was 20.  So that year was a big year for me.  It was a huge stepping stone on the road to my independence.  That first relationship was filled with many ups and downs, and as much as it promoted my independence, it also created a situation where I isolated myself from friends and family and was glued to a screen because it was an LDR with someone who was very insecure and I was insecure because it was my first relationship.  But after that relationship ended when I was 24, it was heartbreaking until I gained my power again and then it was liberating.

I started a 4-year degree program at a university about an hour away from my family (if I drove, it was more like 2-3 hours by bus). I managed to be able to stay on campus, which meant living somewhat independently, and this was at age 23.  At 24 years old, I started working at my second job in my second year of university.  This was another point that increased my independence because I took the bus from university to work, whereas, in my first year at 23, I stuck mostly to the university campus except for trips back home to visit my family.

I met my current partner at 24 after I had healed from the hurt of the past relationship.  We moved in together at 25 years old.  We both shared the intentions of wanting to get married but it was not the right time to plan a wedding when I was taking university courses so we just found an apartment together.  We have been living together for over 2 years now and have plans to plan a small wedding ceremony to make it official a year or so from now.

I also got my first full-time job with medical benefits at age 26, before I turned 27), where I am working now, which has been good. I would like to do something more related to what I studied at university.  But the way I see it, my university degree still led me to where I am today even though it might seem to others that it is not connected. I get somewhat embarrassed when I explain it to others because of the fear of judgment.  

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Sofi

My (ongoing?) transition into adulthood was definitely later and slower than considered normal. Although, this was largely due to a breakdown in mental health as well as ASD though. When I left school at 17, I did do a course at college for life/work skills for people with additional support needs which was OK but not very useful. I got funded taxis to and from college and still wasn't confident to travel independently, couldn't cook or anything like that. After that, I did just stay at home for several years and that was when my mental health completely deteriorated. After a lot of treatment and hospital stays etc., I learnt a lot of life skills and can do a lot of basic things now but can't drive or work or any higher ability adult things. I lost my mum when I was 24 so I was unfortunately forced into coping on my own with services. I moved into my supported living flat last year at age 27 and I get 22 hours of social care support each week and still go to a transitional education group every day and go to Autism centre multiple times a week for social groups and other support, so I do need a lot of support and can't live independently as an adult and realistically I will probably never live completely independently.  I can self travel now though and even travel further afield within the UK on my own for trips away which is really good. 

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MrGrey
On 3/19/2018 at 2:21 PM, RiRi said:

@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.

  I would not have expected such an answer.  My apologies if some people get offended.  I do know, by reading comments on threads, that there are many people who have successfully transitioned to adulthood in one way or another.  They are just not loud about it.  But as a father of a teenage aspie boy, I do want to learn about every one who somehow found a way to succeed.  See, I don't have any inheritance.  My family doesn't have any wealth.  When I'm gone, I'm gone.  I don't want to have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to guiding my son to possible paths, other than the ones I took.  He's already behind three years and I worry about what's gonna happen to him if he's not able to care for himself before I'm gone.

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MrGrey

@Sanctuary I think having the part time job during high school is something that's kind of "in the past".  I remember back in the 80's it was rare to see anybody manning the cash register, that was not a high school kid.  With the only real adults being in the management positions.  Back then, people retired at a lot earlier age.  Now is the other way around.  It is rare to see high school kids working the cash registers at the grocery store.  Now there's plenty of seniors over 60yo and most cashiers are adult people who have to support their families.

  In a way, I believe entry level jobs are now harder to get.  You need to compete with people who actually need the paycheck to feed their families, hence they will do a lot of extra things that a high school student will not.

@DC1346  Thanks for sharing your story.  I too regret many of the choices I made because, have I known I had Asperger's, I would have done things very differently.  I would have stayed in college a lot longer.  With my interpersonal and social skills in the lacking department, its very difficult to convince employers that I know how to do the job.  A degree, or a master's degree would have helped a lot, no doubt.

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RiRi

@MrGrey I am offended by the topic but it looks like people have different ways of defining what it means to be an adult. I practically have all the milestones of becoming an adult, I just don't feel like one.

Edited by RiRi

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MrGrey

  For the topic at hand I would say that being an adult means being able to support yourself with some kind of stability.  If part of a couple, then it's the couple's ability to support themselves.  I know people in their 30's who still live with their parents, but do pay rent for the room, pay for their car insurance, buy their on groceries, etc.   That's as valid as college roommates who keep being roommates after graduating, sharing the cost of the rent.  And lots of people achieve this by getting some government help like low income housing, food stamps, etc.  That's legit too.

  Stories of people to got there are gold, as they give others ideas on what might work.  Stories of failed attempts are also gold because they warn about things that have been tried and failed... things we might want to avoid.

  DC1346's story, specially the part about having little or no retirement savings, touched home base with me.  I'm in the same boat, albeit about a decade behind.  His story is a wake up call for me to start saving for my old age.

  There's always something to learn in every story.  

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Nesf
On 3/19/2018 at 5:13 AM, MrGrey said:

Did you transitioned early or at the same time as NTs?  Or are you late and working on it? 

Yes, and no. I moved away from my parents at 18 to study at university, but had social issues, emotional immaturity, social anxiety and general axiety, depression and at one point I nearly quit, and had to seek treatment. I still have anxiety and mental health issues. I didn't have a proper adult relationship until a lot later than my peers, and when I didn,t I never wanted kids because I never thought I could cope.

However, I have always been financially independent.

On 3/19/2018 at 5:13 AM, MrGrey said:

Did you got a job while still in high school?

No, that was not possible, though I did have a job during the summer holidays.

On 3/19/2018 at 5:13 AM, MrGrey said:

What happened after high school? Did you went to work, or college, or both, or none? 

I went to study at university, and then found a job and lost it, became very engrossed in studying Greek and decided I wanted to move to Greece, so found a post teaching English in Greece. I had employment, but didn't manage to hold down a job for long, and burned out/got fired/couldn't cope and quit.

On 3/19/2018 at 5:13 AM, MrGrey said:

When did you leaved your parent's home and how did you afford to leave the nest and stay away from the nest?

At the time, the government gave grants to students whose parents couldn't afford to pay for university education. Then, after university, I started to earn my own money. In my late 20s, I also inherited some money and so was able to buy my own house without a mortgage.

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