The Life Autistic: Advice I Get Before Social Gatherings

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[pictured: a party too cool for me]

Yeah, so this exchange pretty much sums it up:

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So if I’m not doing a lot of talking at a party or other visit, this is one of the reasons why!

The Life Autistic: The One Interview Answer That Almost Ruined Me

o-JOB-INTERVIEW-facebook-e1444055067489.jpgThe interview was actually going great, and I was somewhat confident I’d be hired for none other than Apple. Corporate. Working from home. The good life.

It was for a customer service position (really, yes), and I’d been doing similar for a vendor for the past three months. My contract was up, and Apple was interested in hiring a bunch of us at the site. My options were either 1) lose my job, or 2) get hired by Apple. Can’t say it was all that difficult.

But as I was quizzed on how to troubleshoot, de-escalate customers, and handle complex situations, a question came up about keeping someone calm when I didn’t know how to solve the issue.

I don’t remember my answer in total, but I remember how I ended it:

“Fake it ’til you make it.”

*brakes screeching*

*record scratch*

The interviewers cocked their heads, quizzing me about what I meant by faking it.

Oh boy, here we go . . . 

I didn’t want to mischaracterize my work as being a fake, but there were a lot of skills I had to come by unnaturally. 

Confidence. Tech savvy. Affability. Empathy.

I wanted to be a good agent, so I’d sound confident. Direct. Measured. Succinct. And people thought I was confident.

I’d land maybe one or two jokes to break tension, and people found that humorous. And so they thought, ‘hey, this guy is funny.

People responded to someone who could relate to their issue. I learned to make the sounds, say the words, lean into the yearning, situate myself into someone’s shoes and the miles they just walked and respond in kind. 

Apparently, that’s empathy. I know how it sounds and acts, just . . . not how it feels.

Back to the interview, I pivoted well enough: told ’em I didn’t mean “making stuff up,” but that confidence and expertise are just what you present, not what you possess.

It made sense.

And here I am, still at Apple after 9 years, still “faking” what I don’t have until I make it into what I do have.

 

 

 

The Life Autistic: Things NOT to Say to High-Functioning Autistic People

IMG_0213.jpgSometimes the best things you can say to us are the things you choose not to say. Here’s a short list:

“Why can’t you just be normal?”

Because we’re not dishwashers and clothes dryers. It’s not a setting we can just switch to.

“You’re not really THAT autistic.”

I’m sorry that I’ve socially adapted to the point where you think my autism isn’t as prominent as you think it should be.

“I need you to grow up and get over it.”

Really? You think we’re somehow unaware of the illogic in our response to stimuli, frustrations, and otherwise outlandishly inconvenient meltdowns? Autism isn’t a maturity issue.

“You’re just using autism as an excuse for [insert something negative here].”

This is where I buy you a dictionary and educate you on the different connotations behind “reason” and “excuse.”

“Can’t you just use your autism to [do something here]?”

What are we, mutants? Autism and its perks aren’t just ‘powers’ we can trigger, sorry.

“I wish you got along with people better.”

Likewise.