My name is J.R. and I’m a high functioning autistic.
(This is the point in the meeting where you would normally say, “Hi, J.R.” and then finish your donut and stale coffee)
OK, this isn’t really a support group meeting, mainly because there aren’t any meetings for high functioning autistic adults that I can find within 45 minutes of where I live in the Greater LA/OC area. If you can’t find a support group in LA or The OC, that’s pretty sad. There’s one for everything out here.
Let’s get straight into the subject at hand. I’m 51-years old which means that when I was growing up, all that was really known about autism was what they knew from the severely autistic.
Those that were “on the spectrum” (more about that later) but not noticeably different in the ways that were medically known, were labeled as weird, strange, quiet and several other not so nice words thrown around by classmates and teachers alike. I can name four teachers without even thinking about it,
Same with ADHD, when I was in school the only kids that were diagnosed with ADHD were the kids who had a juice box drip going 24/7 and the kid who crawled on the ceiling like Spider-Man. But I digress.
What about those of us who are in their 40’s and 50’s and have to deal with stressful and scary situations day in and day out with no help to be found? What are we to do? Is there anyone to advocate for us and get us the help we need so that we don’t feel trapped and isolated in our own little worlds?
What about when our own families don’t understand us? Then you’re really alone. I’ll take a moment to let the reality of that set in.
Seemingly easy social situations can be like torture for some of us. For me, it was so difficult that, as a hockey coach, I fought through that fear when I dealt with the players and parents and ultimately that took a toll on my body and I needed to take a break from coaching. I’ve since retreated into my own little world–not the ideal situation.
For those of us who work for Da Man or Da Woman, work is generally a “my way or the highway” deal and that doesn’t always work for us.
It’s not that we’re being difficult, it’s that our brains are wired different and maybe a different approach to a task with the same end result would work better for us.
So, there’s this joke in the workplace that they call “Reasonable Accommodations.” When it comes to autism or anything to do with the brain, most companies pay less attention to those types of things than Wells Fargo paid to their whistleblowers.
Of the last three people I worked full-time for, if I had asked for a “reasonable accommodation” for my job, within a week two would have found some lame reason to fire me and the third would have called me a pussy, told me to, “clean the sand out of my vagina” and get back to work.
I believe that too many high functioning autistic adults don’t say anything for fear of being outed as someone other than, “weird”, “odd”, or “different”.
“He has the autism. He’s on the spectrum. He must be like that Corky kid from that TV show.”
A. No one says “the autism ”
B. Yeah. I’m on the spectrum. So what?
C. I’m pretty sure Corky had Downs Syndrome. Also, I’m too lazy to look it up, so I’m just going with Downs Syndrome.
Spending months scouring the Internet for help for high-functioning autistic adults, I found surprisingly little. A lot of what I found were people who specialize in kids who also had listings on pages with resources for adults. To be quite honest, I wasn’t thrilled with much that I found.
On the rare occasion that I’m able to speak with someone, I’m told anything from, “We can’t help,” to “Resources are better spent on other groups on the spectrum.”
A lot of the major organizations, I won’t list them by name, say they help all with adult autism, but in reality, the vast majority of their funding goes towards those under 18 and adults who are severely autistic. I’m not saying they don’t mean well because I believe they do, but there are lots of us who can’t get the help we desperately need.
I think that my group of peeps, the high-functioning autistic adult, is like the “tween.” Not really a kid, not really a teenager. We just don’t fit in and it often seems as if no one has any time for us.
So, I want to start a discussion. Why aren’t there more “real” resources available for high functioning autistic adults? What can we do about it? Where do we start?
I’m asking that if you believe we could use more resources for high-functioning autistic adults, please share this post and comment so we can get the discussion going.
Thanks to Shawn & Bobbi over at Dogs Nation for getting me set up with Roman, my soon-to-be-new Autism Support dog.