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"I was told for years that I wouldn’t amount to anything because of my disability. I was told that I wouldn’t drive. I was told that I probably wasn’t going to be able to hold down a job. Now I’ve been at the same job for almost three years. Now I’m driving. Now I’m living independently and it feels great. Five or six years ago, I probably wouldn’t have seen my life turning out the way that it has..."
This 139 page book is a collection of stories from a diverse group of teenagers, young adults & adults on the Autism spectrum as they share their experiences transitioning to adulthood, finding their career path and moving out on their own.
You'll hear from folks seeking to enter college, getting a job, moving out and generally trying to navigate adult life on the spectrum. They'll share what worked for them the mistakes they made and the advice they have for others.
It's our hope that this book helps you to realize that we are truly all in this together, and you aren't nearly as alone as it may seem.
The people at Asperger Experts, who curated & edited this book, are the world's largest organization by & for individuals & families on the Autism spectrum. Every day they help thousands of families, teens, young adults & professionals navigate the complex world of Asperger's & Autism with real, first-person accounts & advice from people who've actually lived it and are diagnosed with Asperger's themselves.
"I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 21. I didn’t participate in the driver’s ed program in school because that was around the time I was pulled from high school, so I missed that stage completely. Looking back, I’m actually okay with that because there’s no way I would have been able to handle the stress of that at the time. So, I’m glad that I waited.
After I got my license, I actually took further driving lessons before I got my car, so that I felt really ready to drive the vehicle. Then, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I drove on the highway for the first time. I was scared to do that and I just didn’t feel ready. I ended up making my first big trip earlier this year. My first big solo drive was a trip to visit my boyfriend, who now lives with me. He’s from Buffalo, and I drove about a five-and-a-half-hour trip from here to Buffalo all by myself. I’m so proud of myself for doing that. "
"In my adult life, I’ve held several different jobs. I’ve worked fast food at a pizza place, and then I worked at a furniture store that’s fairly well known around here as a cashier/customer-service grunt. The longer I was there for, the more apparent it became that it was kind of a dead-end thing. They wouldn’t give anybody a raise, and they wouldn’t promote anybody.
Now I’m doing call-center stuff. Given my quick learning and ability to manage emotions well, I’ve done extremely well at that. They only let their top people work at home, and I’ve done that for a year now. The pay is almost double what I was getting before. So as far as working goes, I’m doing fine. If you had told me when I was in college that I would be working from home, I would have told you that you were nuts, because I didn’t have the discipline for it. But I’ve been doing just fine."
"I think the catalyst for that was that I started to figure out that everybody is different and everything works differently. Not everybody was going to be exactly like you. I started to grasp the reality that it was okay if things didn't work out exactly how I wanted them to. When I was little, I always had trouble with that and thinking that there was only one way that things were supposed to happen. It was very black and white, and once I realized and accepted that the natural order of things is sort of chaos, things got a lot better."
"Hi, I’m Mariana, and I recently got diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I live in Spain.
I struggled a lot in university. The schoolwork and the social aspect especially were complicated and confusing. Every couple of years, I ended up having to take a year off just to be able to recover from it all. During that time, I found myself looking online and found an autistic community.
Little by little, I was more convinced that I must be on the spectrum. So, I started doing more research and asking my mom questions about my childhood and what I was like as a baby. She told me some things that made a lot of sense, like I couldn’t be outside for too long when there were people around because I would start crying.
After that, I took the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-V with more examples that I was told from autistic people online, and I translated it to my mom. When she read it, she started to get very emotional. She said, “I can see you in everything here. You have every symptom.” "
"One of the places where I really got my start and built a lot of confidence in myself was in culinary school. We learned a lot of things in a hands-on method, including knife skills and everything. There was also a lot of learning about baking skills, how to work in the kitchen, and things like that. We had professional chefs come into our school, and we even had a Food Network star come in, and I built a relationship with him. We actually still see each other every few months, and we talk on the phone regularly. He checks in with me just about every week, just to see how I’m doing, even though I graduated from the program."
"One thing, though, that really changed my life and the way I approach work is martial arts. What it taught me was that if you stick with anything long enough, then you can be willing to roll with the punches. The job I have now is as a recycler at a copper wire manufacturing plant. It isn’t that much different from the other jobs I had, but the difference is that I was so much more prepared for this job because of what I learned through martial arts. I’ve had more perseverance; I’ve been more willing to open my mind and accept doing things that I need to do in order to make a living. It has given me the self-confidence to do what is necessary, even if I am not entirely okay with doing it.
The thing is, before my martial arts mindset, I was afraid that if a job is not what I wanted to do, then I wouldn’t be good at it. I had this thought process of “I don’t want to be here. I have better things to do with my life.” Through simply accepting things and rolling with the punches, I have been able to find joy in things, even if they are not my dream thing to do."
"In the UK, there’s very much a social element to work. So, you’re expected to go with your colleagues into noisy pubs and thoroughly enjoy yourself. To me, that was absolute hell because of the sensory processing. The same goes with trying to maintain conversations with groups of people.
My strength was to leave me alone. Tell me what to do, but leave me alone, and I’ll show up in a day or so having it completely done. As long as I could wear headphones and isolate myself, I could concentrate and work on things, no problem. "
"Our son has turned into an entrepreneur who is doing what he loves, building custom gaming computers for others. Even though I found him playing video games all the time growing up frustrating, his deep knowledge of computer games helps him every day with customers and their needs. He truly turned what I thought wasn’t good for anything into a complete career. All those skills of teamwork, rapid communication, going after a goal together, identifying who you want to be on your team when you’re playing a game, it all makes sense. It all works.
It’s funny, because his ability to rapidly identify what is happening on a complicated screen has made all the difference in his work. At one point, I was back in grad school doing medical work, trying to read X-rays, echocardiograms, and other things on screens that I wasn’t familiar with. My consultant on that became my son. He has become my teacher in many, many ways. We have a great relationship and communicate often."
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