Strategies and plans

Business Discussion


It’s still a secret! The only person who knows is someone at Disability Support at my university, and that’s a confidential service. I asked for advice about next steps, and got a helpful email back regarding options – none of which look great.

In the UK, you can sometimes get a free referral via the NHS through your General Practitioner (local doctor who is the ‘gateway’ to services and also provides diagnoses and prescriptions for conditions that don’t need referral), although this route could take 12-18 months because of the waiting list for psychiatrists. For an adult who appears to be coping with life, there’s a strong chance a GP wouldn’t refer you.

If you took the private route, it would be a lot quicker, but would cost in the region of £800, and I’m not sure I really want to spend that kind of money unless the financial benefit is worth it. And here is the big question: with an official diagnosis, and support in the workplace, would I be more successful in my career? If the answer’s yes, then it would be worth it if there was no free referral. Additionally, there are laws in the UK against disability discrimination, and AS would come under that (although you can’t legislate for people’s gut reactions and possibly unconscious discrimination) so it could help protect me against losing my job.

There are other, cheaper routes to diagnosis through people who are well-respected in the field, but do not have the official medical qualifications. These are closer to £400, and are supposed to be quite reliable, but I suspect they don’t carry the weight of the pricier ones.

Whether I have AS or not (and I’m 99% sure I do), I’m certainly being held back by autistic traits. My employment history is full of short-term jobs and roles that I was overqualified for academically, of not progressing, or losing the job, through factors that are probably AS-related. So what I need are better social skills in the workplace. As I can’t access this kind of support from the relevant agencies, I figured books were probably a pretty good place to start. They’ve often helped in the past with skills such as how to tackle particular interview questions (and how they often don’t mean what they seem to), so if I can extend that to interaction more generally, that should help.

At the moment, I’m reading Ian Ford’s ‘A Field Guide to Earthlings.’ It’s helped me understand the principles behind neurotypical communication better, although it scares me a little how clueless I am about actually taking part in it. I’m no longer surprised by the number of misunderstandings I seem to have.

So now I’m asking for your help. Has anybody out there in blogland read books they think would help me?





6 thoughts on “Strategies and plans

  1. I have never been good at job interviews. I tended to become very rigid and stiff. My answers sounded like they were coming from someone else. I personally think they are are a waste of time. But maybe that is because I was so bad at them. I am not a big talker and I find the ability to pad my resume or abilities to be dishonest. The ones of lesser actual ability have the “moves” and the “talk” and come across better regardless of whether or not they can actually do the job description. We may be more sincere and better at doing the job but lack the social graces. I have watched many people in my lifetime to see what they do and how they interact with each other.
    Perhaps rather than books I would try youtube and watch and learn. Even videoing yourself and watching back. Practice, practice, practice. Over and over. If you have someone you can practice interviews with I think that would help.
    I saw the film, Adam recently and thought, ah ha. I wish I had done that. Regarding preparing for an interview.
    I think now if I sat an interview I would be better. I really think in an interview it’s not perhaps exactly what you say it is how you present yourself. How comfortable you are in your clothes, sitting, eye contact, smiling. Even if these things don’t come naturally, with repetition I think anything is possible. Mimicry is a form of flattery and mimicking the interviewer’s feet and hand movement if done subtly is extra points.
    Being able to describe your strengths and give expanded answers are helpful. I think there is a lot of preparation needed for interviews. For me anyway.
    I would encourage you to tackle your interview as a research project. With yourself being the subject. Video yourself now and then along the way with progress. Even if on the inside you don’t feel that it’s natural, as long as you portray the appearance then that is all that you need to get to the next step.
    Use cafes, shop staff, public transportation as your practice for eye contact and smiling, and for making small talk. It takes effort for me for small talk and I try to make the effort. To keep in practice.
    Good luck!

  2. You should definitely read/buy The Asperger’s Workplace Survival Guide. It has been CRUCIAL to my success at my job.

    I think you should also seek an official diagnosis. It seems like it is easier here in the U.S., where it’s very easy to get referrals to specialists like psychologists or counselors. In my case I did not have to see a “Psychiatrists”, I saw a Clinical Psychologist, who also provided Counseling services. The diagnosis has been a great way to explain my often strange and awkward and upsetting behavior to my supervisor, and then to work on strategies and techniques for me to change my workplace behavior.

    It is really disappointing that it’s going to cost you so much to go through with an official diagnosis, but I really think it is worth it!

    • Thanks for the advice. I’m also a bit reluctant because of it being on my medical records if I go to the GP; there’s no going back once it is, although if the GP did refer me, at least it would be free! But I very much take on board that it could help, and I do worry that I think I can pass for NT when people are actually too polite to tell me I’ve offended them (that great British reserve…)

    • Ooh! Missed that book (that’ll teach me to search for Kindle stuff and ignore the hard-copy things). Looks really useful: thanks for the suggestion. I’ve had some good jobs in the past, but also sometimes been underemployed, and never got promoted. It’s interesting that the job I remember most fondly was the one where the boss was quite possibly on the spectrum.

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