This is an interesting topic of discussion! There’s some thinking that people on the autistic spectrum lack emotions. I can say that for me this is true a lot of the time in terms of apathy.
Apathy: lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern
Apathy may be a symptom of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. If somebody has a different world view and experience to the majority of people (neurotypical people) around them, it means they are unlikely to share the same values and desires and have the same motivations. It does not mean that a person is necessarily lacking emotions, but rather that they may feel differently about things and may feel apathetic about the things that stir emotion in most other people.
Lots of people with ASD like to have plans and be able to follow them. Let’s look at what happens and how a person might feel when a plan is suddenly changed.
I was once asked by a journalist whether I thought females with ASD “coped” better with their condition than males. My answer was no. I think some females cope differently and certainly many do not ‘cope’ at all.
One interesting point that is relevant here is that, generally, males are diagnosed with ASD much younger than females. What is often the case is that lots of young boys are diagnosed, but lots of young girls are not. Indeed, I’d say ‘most’ females aren’t diagnosed until adolescence and beyond (and it’s very common for them to be diagnosed well into adulthood).
If females are not diagnosed until adulthood then one conclusion you might come to is that it “means they must cope better.”
In most cases, when an autistic person has a meltdown, they have very little control. This is especially true with children, but many adults also are not able to control their behaviour once a meltdown has been triggered. Whilst a meltdown is happening, most people will agree that there is no control.
This is how the girl with the curly hair’s meltdowns tend to start…
There are always certain chores that you are going to dislike doing, it’s part of being human! However, as well as “disliking”, people on the autistic spectrum may struggle with executive functioning – the set of mental skills that enables people to get things done, things such as planning, initiating, following steps, etc.
Here are some of my best tips for doing the things you don’t like to do. I hope you find at least one of them helpful.
Words are very important. I am very specific and pedantic when I talk and I always prefer others to be too. Although other people can sometimes get frustrated or annoyed with my need to get down to the ‘semantics’ of what is being said, knowing the semantics is actually a good thing as it often represents a desire to connect with the other person.
It’s well known that people with ASD tend to take words as they are literally said and can therefore go around in a state of confusion if words are not said literally. This can make daily life very hard. For example, a person on our Facebook page commented:
“My boss said ‘bring me the safe.’ She goes into the back office and sees me struggling to lift the safe so I can bring it to her. She says, ‘I meant bring me what’s inside the safe.’ The safe itself was bolted to the floor.”
Here you can see the words the boss said were confusing and meant the person misunderstood the task.
But there is another reason that words are important too…
I often make plans or agree to plans with others that sound OK, might even sound fun, but then when the time actually comes I don’t want to go through with it. Throughout my life, I’ve been known to cancel on people last minute. Even though I like to think of myself as a highly reliable and committed person, I would more often than not cancel events and meetings. Interestingly, as an adult who has come to terms with my diagnosis I have created a life structure that is both helpful and energising. Subsequently, I cancel far less nowadays. In this post, I will talk about some of the reasons why a person with ASD might cancel something last minute and suggest strategies on how to lessen the chance of this happening.
For other people, reading and understanding why plans can sometimes cause difficulty for people with ASD, you can help make their life easier too.
When you have ASD, it can be very hard to know what to say and how to respond to people. Even under ‘normal’ circumstances, such as having a coffee and a chat with a friend or speaking with colleagues at work, this can be difficult. So what happens when someone you know becomes involved in a far more unusual situation, such as when they are suffering because of a loss or an illness? How do you know what to say to them then?
Mourning and suffering occur for lots of reasons. It can be the more obvious, e.g. the death of a loved one or a pet, but it can also mean a break up, an illness, moving away from your birth town, etc. All these things can cause a person to suffer and trigger grief or mourning. It is never easy to deal with, and finding the right words to help someone who is suffering can be tricky.
Here are our 5 tips on how to communicate with a friend who has known loss, illness, depression…or is faced with any type of suffer or mourning.
What I describe in this blog article is something I wish I had understood a long, long time ago! Thinking back over my life I come to see that all the major times of emotional distress I experienced came from when I was spending too much time around people and too little time on my own. There is an optimal balance of ‘people time’ vs ‘alone time’ and you have to work out what exactly it is for you. Once you know what it is, you can work out how to maintain this balance through your day to day and long term plans.
In October 2016, the National Autistic Society found that only 16% of autistic adults were in full time work. This is such a low percentage! But I completely understand why it might be so low. Reasons can include the person with ASD having trouble with the whole job application process, not passing interviews, or struggling to keep up with the social and executive function demands of employment once they do actually get a job, hence not lasting long before leaving. Another big reason is that most potential employers are not understanding of ASD in general and do not quite realise the reasonable adjustments that ought to be made to help a person with ASD pass the interview, for example. I know of someone who has applied for hundreds of jobs, has had hundreds of interviews, yet has not been in work for 10 years, despite really wanting to and trying hard!
I’ve had – and still have – lots and lots of different jobs. It has taken me a while to get myself on the right career path however and I’ve been very miserable in some of the jobs I’ve had (jobs that should have, in theory, been very good for me). Here’s my advice on finding the right job and perhaps thinking about it in ways you’ve not thought of.