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Experience of discrimination based on Asperger’s syndrome

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MattA7

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I thought i would ask this on here as a know there seems to be quite a few people with Asperger’s syndrome on this forum.

have you ever experienced discrimination because of your Asperger’s syndrome and if so what kind?

For me personally I have had a lifetime of harassment as a result of it and abuse. I have heard just about every stupid comment you can think of and the area I currently live in seems to be the worst so far (some areas seem to be worse than others with regards to prejudice people)

Even from so called professional people such as teachers or careers advisors who have grossly underestimated my abilities. In my school years I was told if I were to sit standard grades I WILL fail and was wasting my time even considering it. luckily both me and my mother disagreed with such opinions and after lengthy discussions and meetings they eventually allowed me to sit my standard grades if I agreed to sign a responsibility wavier releasing them of any potential legal action if I fail. I went on to gain 5 standard grades and 3 highers. Which makes you wonder how many other young people with Asperger’s syndrome were underestimated and just followed the teachers advice on their skills and abilities.

As for employment that is proving to be almost a impossible task I left school almost 10 years ago and I’m still unemployed and the stress and anxiety it’s causing only makes seeking employment and living independently worse creating a vicious cycle.

so I’m curious to hear if other people who have Asperger’s have had any similar experience in their day to day life.
 
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alxndr

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I'm sorry to hear you're having such a tough time, but good on you for fighting for the chance to take your exams and doing well in them.

I haven't faced much discrimination myself, but I happen to be fairly good at "masking" and was only diagnosed this year at the age of 24. Fear of discrimination has meant that I've only told three people that I have ASD so far though. That isn't always helpful, as instead of feeling able to ask for help when I'm struggling I end up having to work harder and harder to hide it.
 

STEVIEBOY1

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Sorry to hear this, are you getting any support from the job centre or do you have a case worker?
 

3rd rail land

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When I left school I got extra help from Jobcentre Plus as of course Asperger's is classed as a disability. I was assigned a disability support officer or whatever they are called, it was at least 10 years ago now.
I gave up on the Jobcentre as any meaningful results would have taken a very long time to emerge and I eventually found employment via a regular employment agency that had a suitable role on their books.

When it comes to applying for jobs I don't see a need to reveal that I have Asperger's and in most cases there isn't a suitable opportunity to do so anyway. I doubt it would have any bearing on the outcome of a job application.
As for underestimating ability I reckon some employers do it and some don't but I expect that happens to everyone, disability or not.
 

Peregrine 4903

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Having been diagnosed with Aspergers when I was 6, I've known I've had it for my whole life. I was discriminated against extremely badly at secondary school. My secondary school was a mainstream school, but had an autistic unit attached to it with the idea you do lessons in the mainstream but use the unit as support. Good idea in theory, awful in practice. In Year 7 we were encouraged to tell everyone we had autism/aspergers and because everyone knew we were in the unit, they knew we had autism. As a result I had a label placed on my head in year 7 differentiating me from everyone else. This means I ended up being badly discriminated against. Instead of being treated as an equal to all the kids in my year in the mainstream, I was treated as a charity case that needed to be pitied, and people only wanted to be friends with me in Year 7 and 8 so they could use our small football pitch. I ended up being used and in year 9 was mssively manipulated to completely humilate me in front of the entire year by people getting me to say/admit some things which I had never done. I was sadly to naieve at that point to realise what was going on. People frequently referred to us as Autistics and when someone did something stupid, why are you being so autistic, stop being like the unit kids.

In year 10 as I tried to continue to be friends with people I realised no one wanted me there, just no one would tell me directly, it got to the point where I was shaking when sitting with so called friends for lunch. I never got invited to any out of school meetups or parties, and when they complained I was boring and didn't have anything to say, that was mostly because they would always talk about parties which I hadn't been invited to so couldn't talk about them. I ended up finally realising my predicament properly in Year 11 after suspecting it in year 10, became immensley depressed and withdrew completely at school. I from Year 8 onwards didn't attend all lessons due to stress and hit its worst in year 11 where I missed loads of lessons due to anxiety about interacting with my peers. I then hit rock bottom in Year 12 where my academic grades started to properly suffer as the school wouldn't let me choose the A levels I wanted, but then did half way through the term, but by then it was too late and I was now doing only 2 A levels. The school did not support my situation.

The thing that annoyed me the most was the fact the only reason why I didn't have any friends was because I was autistic. In Year 7 i was a rather sheltered kid, but I spent hours in Year 7,8 and 9 pracising conversations with various teachers and by Year 11 I was certainly as socially able as everyone in my year. Yet I was never given a chance because of the label on my head. As a result I had no friends at secondar school, was immensley lonely and depressed, and all because the label on my head meant I became a charity case and that my so called friends thought they were helping me and doing their good deed for the day. They did not help one bit. It just meant I missed out on so many experiences like parties, friend groups, girls and other stuff.

Life has improved immensley for me since I left school and despite only leaving with 1 A level after ths school completely let me down, I have turned my life around. I managed to first get a job as a Transport Planning Apprentice, and a year after leaving school I recently started working in the railway industry as a Train Planner. I've made a few friends, re-ignited old friends from primary school and hope to make many more.

Just to end some stats about Autism. Only 16% of Autistic people who are eligble to work are in employment. The life expectancy for Autistic people is 14 years less than the average person. Autistic adults are 9 times more likely to commit suicide than regular adults. Autistic people are discriminated across society by all people, words that have negative conotations towards Autistic people are used all the time with no consequences and nothing much is being done about it. Not many people know about how bad the situation is and its consistently ignored in the mainstream media. Its not all bad, and plenty of people have succeeded, but it is a serious issue discrimination against Autistic people.

Stats are from Autistica.

Sorry for the long post. Just needed to vent my feelings on this subject, which is very personal to me.
 

jb108822

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Anyone who knows me from other forums will be unsurprised that this is pretty long. I apologise in advance. :p

My parents first noticed something was different about me when I was a baby. I never needed much sleep, and would only eat one kind of baby food, which caused Mum to trek across Birmingham (where we lived at the time) to get hold of as much as she could due to it being discontinued. When I was fed mashed-up carrot & potato, I'd spit the potato out, which I'll admit is pretty disgusting, but I was only young at the time! It took a year of effort to get me to eat potato, and Mum used a rather ingenious method - Alphabet Letters. Main reason being that I used to love watching Countdown, and would often watch it while standing on my head. Don't ask. :p Mum replaced some of the I's with normal chips, which I somehow didn't notice, and then eventually revealed what was inside them. For years, the only veg I'd eat was carrots, though I've got much better over the past couple of years. Still don't want to touch anything green, and salad's out of the question, though I'll quite happily have raw onion in a burger. Speaking of which, I long for the day when McDonald's allow you to properly make your own burger as opposed to adapting pre-existing menu options.

I was officially diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when I was 11 in 2003, and I at last had an answer as to why I was a bit weird. One thing I've struggled with for years is noise, and getting some noise-cancelling headphones last year has been an absolute game-changer. I only normally wear them when I'm out and about to eliminate as much ambient noise as possible, and it's amazing just how good they are. Clothing's an interesting one for me. Material isn't normally much of a problem, though fit can be - I don't like anything tight on my torso, but it's the other way around on my legs.

Getting employment was tricky. After failing my law degree, my parents pushed me into getting a job, which I was apprehensive about, given my past failures whenever I'd tried. I mentioned my Asperger syndrome on every form, and never got anywhere. Didn't mention it when I applied for Sainsbury's in 2013, and got the job. Didn't mention it to anyone until my first day, but it wasn't an issue. My then-manager eventually told me that it wouldn't have been a problem if I had mentioned it, but my past experience made me think differently. The job was in the clothing department, which wasn't my first choice, but I just had to take what was available at the time. I struggled for a while with poor leadership from my team leaders and basically feeling undervalued, but one person changed all that. She got me doing way more than replenishing stock - I assisted with changing layouts to accommodate new lines, and was left in charge of the department on a couple of occasions while she was on holiday, leaving a list of things that needed to be done each day. The first time, everything on the list was done. Second time? I walked in on Friday morning to find that everything had been finished the previous night, so cue me trying to think of something productive to do! :p I was told I'd done a great job of keeping things running, which made me really happy. I moved over to our store's petrol station in 2016, and have been there ever since. I also do shifts in other stores, particularly convenience stores, as and when help is needed, and sometimes at short notice. It helps me deal with change and working in unfamiliar environments, though I know the staff & layout of two convenience stores pretty well now, which makes things a lot easier.

Crowds are an interesting one. I can deal with concerts fine, as there's something else going on. Plus I've often had a bit to drink, which helps. :p Large crowds in public are something I do struggle with, and I came close to a panic attack while on Westminster Bridge in November 2016, though my head was on another planet at that time due to my grandmother having died a couple of days previously. (She'd been diagnosed with a rather aggressive form of bile duct cancer earlier that year which had spread quickly, and we knew the prognosis wasn't very good.) I was lucky to have a friend with me at the time, as I think I would've really struggled otherwise.

Changes in plans are something I've struggled with, but working in retail has really helped with that. I've now learned to cope with tasks having to change almost immediately, and now find it weird when something unexpected doesn't happen on a shift! Attempting the Tube Challenge in 2017 (and completing it in 2018) was another thing. I worked incredibly hard on getting a timetable together, but knew that things may go wrong and we'd have to adjust things on the day. We missed out by three stations in 2017 thanks to doing it on a Sunday (big mistake) and a jobsworth bus driver not accepting one of our perfectly valid tickets. 2018 had a signal failure on the District line at Earl's Court, which screwed us up a bit, but we JUST managed it by getting on the last train to Heathrow T4. Tried the Paris Métro challenge last November, getting over 90% of the network, in spite of random station closures due to protests by the gilets jaunes and poor signage regarding said closures in some stations. With Paris, we really had to think on our feet and make it up as we went along during the day. Close to the end, we were completely shattered and struggled to think, but it was all worth it.

One of my crowning achievements was going on the first series of Junior Mastermind in 2004, with my specialist subject being 'Formula 1 from 1990-2004'. I didn't win - in fact, I was last in my heat - but it was a really worthwhile experience, and a great lesson in dealing with disappointment. Just getting on TV was an achievement in of itself, and I was so proud of myself for that! Getting a free weekend in a Hilton hotel (paid for by the BBC) was great as well. Given we were living in Cornwall at the time, it was very much needed! My heat was the second one to be filmed, but it ended up being transmitted first due to the final scores being so much closer than the scores in the heat filmed first. Another big special interest of mine is the Eurovision Song Contest, to the point where I watch all of Sweden's six-week-long national final. Still don't know very much Swedish. :p

Theatre's a huge love of mine. I've been in various amateur musicals over the years, and have seen a few West End shows. Favourite play is 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'. Loved the book to bits, as I could easily see the parallels between Christopher and myself. Seeing it on the stage was a whole different experience. Watching different facets of my personality being acted out in front of me was wonderful, yet also uncomfortable at times, which I guess is one of the points of theatre. As for musicals? Has to be 'Dear Evan Hansen'. Watched it from one of the boxes by the stage, and I think that helped me connect with the show on another level. So relatable on a number of levels due to my autism, and yet also a painful reminder of how I've let my issues get the better of me on a number of occasions. Just listen to 'Waving Through a Window'. I've never been pulled through so many emotions while watching anything in the theatre before, and just knew that Sam Tutty (the guy playing Evan) would win an Olivier Award. Which he did! I can't wait for the film to come out within the next couple of years - I'll probably be in tears for most of it, but I don't care. :p

Moving around the country due to the nature of my Dad's job in the Methodist Church has made settling into new areas tricky. I can take a while to make friends, and to leave them behind is distressing. Settling into new areas is tough, and I was badly bullied in one area due to being autistic and because of my Dad's job. It also didn't help that in many churches I attended, there were very few people of my age, and in one church, all the kids were treated as though they were in Key Stage 1, despite us all being teenagers. We all left the Sunday School en masse because we were fed up of it, and I left that church along with my Mum & brothers after some incredibly appalling remarks were made about our family that were completely untrue. The church I attend in Congleton has a number of people my age, and there's a weekly Bible study that I attend with them. For the first time in what feels like forever, I feel valued there, and people don't mind that I'm different.

In terms of the future, I don't know what will happen thanks to COVID, but I might as well stay secure where I am with Sainsbury's for now. I'm studying for a Maths degree with the Open University, and passed my first year with an overall score of 89%, which I'm VERY happy with. :D
 

507021

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I didn't realise it at the time, but looking back, I'm absolutely convinced I was discriminated against by a former manager.

When he hired me, I told him I have autism and received a diagnosis several years previously. I offered to bring him the letter confirming my diagnosis as proof, but he said it was fine and he'd speak to the supervisors and let them know. He also offered to make arrangements to help me manage my condition at work, which I appreciated, but he didn't do either of those in the three months I was there, despite me asking about them once every few weeks or so. Each time, he'd fob me off saying he was busy or he'd sort it "soon". He also regularly spoke down to me, despite the fact he was shorter. He also gave me a verbal warning for checking my phone for two seconds to see what time it was (while there were no customers who needed to be served), but he didn't do anything about someone else having a conversation on theirs whilst serving customers.

He'd find something to criticise about my performance at least once a week, and had the audacity to complain about my hygiene on one particular occasion. I always shower and put antiperspirant on before I go to work, without fail, but on one particular day during a heatwave he asked me if I could sort out a delivery. I agreed, and spent the best part of an hour moving a few cages' worth of items from downstairs up to the store room and kitchen (the temperature of which was unbearable) before putting them all away. The manager came to see how I was getting on, and then immediately proceeded to complain about my hygiene. I told him why this was the case, but he ignored this and told me to make sure I have a shower before I come to work.

Also, he'd regularly understaff the part of the unit where I worked, particularly when I was rostered to work. On a bank holiday weekend, he left me to serve hundreds of customers by myself to the point I had a breakdown behind the counter. It says a lot when the customers were more concerned about my mental wellbeing than the manager, who'd incidentally taken that weekend off. Sure enough, he criticised me for that as well. He also rostered me to work for ten days straight, which I asked him to change but he refused. I then said in that case, I'd be taking two days off of my choosing and speaking to my union about his attitude towards me and refusing to accommodate my condition. Eventually, the rota got changed, but it was actually a supervisor who did it rather than the manager.

Related to the above, he also rostered me to work for ten hours several times. On one of those days, the division manager came in to see how things were going. He arrived when the unit opened, and was still there after the usual shift changeover. After I'd been there for nine hours, the division manager came up to me and asked why I was still there. I told him I'd been rostered to work for ten hours (and that it wasn't the first time), and he immediately told me I could go home. On my way out, I heard him speaking to my manager about the length of my shift and said it wasn't acceptable. It never happened again.

I resigned after three months because I'd had enough of the job and the manager. He called me a few weeks later to ask if I'd be interested in working over Christmas, to which I replied no and that I never want to see or hear from him ever again. Thankfully, I didn't.

I was told the manager left shortly after he called me, because the division manager was apparently about to sack him.
 

UP13

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The previous head of the school I teach at had Asperger's so it shows how far you can go in life with the syndrome. However she completely hid it and masked it very well (although now we know she has it it is now very obvious that she has it). We only found out because she drunkenly revealed it on a night out.

I must say in my experience women seem much better at discussing Asperger's/ASD and there still seems to be this myth that it is a male thing so maybe people only look for it in men and boys.

I'm very sorry to hear of the difficulties experienced by posters on here.
 
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PTR 444

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I don't really talk about this much, but seeing as this thread is here and other members have discussed their experiences of living with Autism/Asperger's, I thought I might as well chip in. Apologies if this is a very long post.

I was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of 3, but I spent much of my life at a special school so never experienced any discrimination, or at least didn't realise at the time. The problem however was that for several of those school years, I was lumped into the same classes as pupils with complex learning difficulties who could not achieve the same potential as me, so that meant I would often get given work that was much, much harder than everyone else. Even though this seemed to be the right thing to do, I hated it at the time because I felt it was unfair that I was one of the best behaved pupils at the school thanks to my fear of being told off, yet still got treated like I was being punished for doing something wrong. I also had very little perception on what the real world was like back then and since I had formed very close bubbles with my classmates, my only goal in life seemed to be to spend as much time with them as possible.

In my later years at school, I realised that being in the specialist autism unit at school (which my parents had requested I be in) was not right for me and requested that I move to the main side of the special school, which was successful. By then, I had drifted away from my old friends and made new friends in the main side so I felt more motivated to want to be there and complete the work. Even though it was harder than I had faced before, I much preferred the fact that everyone else was doing the same task as me at the same time, therefore I didn't feel like the odd one out anymore. Around the same time, my parents started pushing me to take GCSEs but unfortunately, the school did not offer them since most students were not capable of taking them, and even though a handful of really high-functioning students could take them off site, I was told that I could not because I had moved over from the autism unit too late.

So I left school in 2014 with no GCSEs and moved straight to a level 1 course at a mainstream college. I began to feel like the odd one out again because most other students on that course were misbehaving and constantly bunking off class, while I was the good guy that always did the work to the best of my ability and never broke a single rule. In fact, I started to realise that swearing and poor attendance was commonplace amongst college students, and this felt weird because I had been protected from it within special school. It made it much harder for me to fit in because my parents were constantly worried about me being taken advantage of, and I didn't want to make them upset. I did try and make friends with one group of people in my first year, but they eventually told me to leave and never see them again.

At that end of my first college year, I was also reaching a crucial crossroads in my life as to which course to study at Level 2, but I eventually chose to study Art because I had always enjoyed drawing and wanted to explore the subject further. A bonus of going down that path was that for the first time in my educational history, I was in a class where the number of girls outnumbered the guys. Even though this should have not really informed my choice of course, it kind of did for me. My experiences of the previous year had helped me learn to mask most of my autistic traits by then, so was able to make friends with people on my course while facing very little to no discrimination at all (whether that was down to my masking is unclear). I was also able to achieve a distinction grade that year as well as a GCSE, therefore for once I finally felt that I had conquered my disability.

But my optimism proved to backfire when I went on to study Level 3. I had such high expectations that my successes of that year would continue, so it came as a shock to me that the workload (equivalent to A-level) ramped up significantly compared to the previous year. I was also hoping to make even more friends, particularly as 9/10 of the students on the course were female, but this failed to come to fruition as I was falling behind with my work and hence I was having to spend time in the library to catch up. In fact, I got to know a few people on the course and was able to hang out a few times between lessons, but I started to feel like I was being discriminated against when I followed them on Instagram and they did not follow me back. It felt to me like they didn't really want to be friends with me when I saw they were following other people in my class, and I could not help but jump to the conclusion that this was because the workload pressures had hindered some of my autism masking abilities. I spent the next two years just trying to focus on the work since at least if I got a good grade, there would be more opportunities open to me where I could meet loads of people. Thankfully, I was offered an unconditional place at my prospective university in early 2018 and took it up that September. I was able to meet tons of new people during Freshers week and I would say that this was the best social experience that I have ever had.

Overall, my time at university has been a success and I have experienced practically zero discrimination based on my disability, but I still regret the fact that I was at a special school for so long despite this being beyond my control, and there is a part of me that wonders how different my life would have been if my parents had never sent me there. I reckon that I would have gained a better understanding of the real world at a younger age and would probably be pursuing a completely different career path (likely rail related), but would likely have suffered from more discrimination and bullying due to not being in the special school bubble, so my mental health may have suffered more. My biggest hurdle now is planning for life after uni. With the jobs market being suppressed as a result of Covid, I do feel really sorry for young people on the autism spectrum who have to work harder than everyone else to achieve their potential while potentially facing multiple episodes of discrimination along the way. As much as I would like to think that discrimination against people on the spectrum can be eradicated and life is fair for everyone, it is sadly unlikely to happen anytime soon. To sum things up, I think that there needs to be much more integration between autistic and non-autistic people in society so each other can gain a better understanding of differences they face between them without the fear of being judged.
 

Peregrine 4903

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@PTR 444

What you say at the end of your post is exactly what needs to happen, sadly like you say, I doubt it will happen anytime soon, and if I'm being really cynical maybe not in my lifetime. I hope its not the case, but what I've seen in society really doesn't fill me with my hope.

And also one thing with the intergration is it needs to be done in a way that doesn't place a label in people with aspergers/autism or makes that label become a positive and not something that is viewed as negative.

And too everyone who posted here, thankyou for sharing your stories.

I really hope oneday the discrimination will be eradicated.
 

brad465

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The previous head of the school I teach at had Asperger's so it shows how far you can go in life with the syndrome. However she completely hid it and masked it very well (although now we know she has it it is now very obvious that she has it). We only found out because she drunkenly revealed it on a night out.

I must say in my experience women seem much better at discussing Asperger's/ASD and there still seems to be this myth that it is a male thing so maybe people only look for it in men and boys.

I'm very sorry to hear of the difficulties experienced by posters on here.
From what I understand it's not so much people look for autism/Asperger's more in men/boys, it's women/girls seem to be better at suppressing the condition enough to avoid causing concern, it's quite not uncommon for female diagnoses to occur in adulthood.


I can provide a perspective from both first hand as someone with autism and from having an autistic cousin 10 months younger than me:

I was diagnosed at 3 and a half, and received early speech therapy classes after that (can't remember when they ended but it wasn't a long job). I'm in a way fortunate to be mildly affected, but it still has caused problems. At primary school I didn't have any major problems although there were aspects of my behaviour in terms of nervousness/fear linked to it. I never received specialist support in primary days as I wouldn't have been able to get in if it was required (they don't snub learning disabilities, but they could only accommodate 2 per class and I was of lesser concern than the other 2).

Secondary school was mixed, I made friends and got on with people, but I went through what I believe was depression between spring 2009 and July 2010. I hadn't heard of depression at the time and was unaware of the concept of the symptoms I experienced being a serious condition/illness, so never spoke to anyone about it, except for the support I gained dealing with panic attacks common in Year 9. However as many of the symptoms were there, I'm confident I had it. The depression was actually caused by both events outside of school and in, where in various areas I felt jealous/behind on others, especially with regard to a lack of travel my family had back then. However I started (by chance) long distance cycling in April 2010, which went a long way to bringing the depression to an end, along with gains in personal independence (I was 14 at this time).

It was in July 2010 that my parents finally told me about my autism, having been prompted to by filling out work experience forms. This then explained so much about my past up to then that I mildly thought was odd, and I also saw learning of this as a "reward" for beating depression (even though my parents were unaware of my depression at the time), which while not entirely caused by autism, will have been exacerbated by it. My GCSE years tended to go well, and I did seek support from a councillor in school weekly for a while, having decided I needed more support, along with segregation in exam environments (I preferred being solo or in a small room with only a few other students).

I went to the Sixth form of an all girls school as one of 20 boys in my year (induced by my secondary school stopping at year 11 and the neighbouring boys school to my sixth form only offering the IBacc which I didn't want to do). It was a really good experience and enjoyed it all, however my autism got a major reality check early in year 12, when I struggled to integrate with others in a social sense. I wasn't snubbed, but I didn't have the social skills then to feature enough in others' lives to be included in socials, despite making friends well. However I did learn over the two years and realised how important "the golden rule" is to being integrated. I was also helped (strangely) by a cycling accident I had in October 2013, as my friends sympathised and offered support from all the stress that came with an insurance claim for bike damage and the stress of not being able to cycle. Cycling has been a major stress relief in general and in particular at controlling stress caused by social awkwardness. As part of the golden rule work I revived a childhood Hama bead hobby that saw me make presents and write Christmas cards in 2013 for people in my year. These appeared to go down really well and realised they were a vital ally in supporting socialising, causing me to continue making presents for others out of beads to this day. Come results day I decided that some of my friends who'd been particularly helpful in battling autism (without realising), could know about me having it, where all those I told sounded supportive and this hasn't stopped me staying in contact and seeing some of them.

I went to University in Bath from 2014-2017, and from a social perspective it was not perfect, but having learned more from my sixth form experiences, was a considerable improvement and autism was less of a problem. I also didn't wait till the end of the degree to make my condition known to friends, as I felt confident making them aware from 2nd year onwards, which didn't hold me back. I did also get a support worker throughout my degree, which was a big help for staying organised with assignments and finding accommodation each year, and graduated with a 2:1 in Environmental Science.

I never did much in the way of work until my final year of Uni (other than public garden volunteering), as I believed it would be stressful, but found paid work in 2017 elections and a Deliveroo rider for 6 months to gain experience that helped me get into full time work with my current organisation in December 2017. I later found out our recruitment system isn't supportive of autistic candidates (competency question dominated) and is amidst inclusive reforms, although somehow I learned to adapt to it. I'm part of the Autism Network in my organisation which is very helpful and while I don't need much support these days, this feature is important to be a part of. I was also able to get an additional work project/secondment for a few months in 2019 that was possible because a manager recognised I have attention to detail (common among Autistic/Asperger's' folk). I've been fortunate not to have experienced discrimination officially, although usually any I experienced was systemic as a result of not having learned enough about society to be at the level of others. I do kind of wish my parents had told me about my condition earlier than I did, as I would have sought more support and understood myself better. It was no good telling me when I was diagnosed, as I wouldn't have understood, but maybe later primary school or just before secondary school started would have made a big difference.

This year if anything autism has been of good help for getting through lockdown, as much of this year's events have strong parallels with the depression I experienced before. As a result I knew things will improve and how to combat the challenges, and activities like cycling and beads mentioned before are already established. It's also helped everyone else being in same position, as, however acceptable this is, I don't feel inferior to them like I have done with social struggles in the past.

As a side note that's railway related, I do have a quirky obsession with the Networker family (hence my forum name), simply because of their traction motor sounds, which I've always found comforting. They also demonstrated my attention to detail from as young as 4-5, as I could distinguish the 465 sounds of the BREL and Met Cam variants, as well as the different door buttons and sounds and link them to the different traction motors. However I wasn't aware of class numbering and the different manufacturers until secondary school years, when I had better internet access (the 365s' presence with Connex SE was a real curveball that I only learned about as a teenager, given they looked like the BREL 465s but sounded like the Met Cam ones, having used them on Margate summer specials). After enjoying riding them as a child, I would go riding on them at the weekend during my GCSEs and A-levels, and were my comfort zone for important homework/revision, and continue to gain their support in hard times mentally and in general. In line with the common issue of autistic people struggling with change, I have long been trying to mentally prepare for the eventual withdrawal of the Networkers, which will likely happen in the next few years. However I have had their support through pretty much all the critical life stages of school, Uni and finding early work, so hopefully later years won't be a major issue, combined with being immortalised in video. (This particular interest of mine has long been secret among people I know, even among my own family for almost all my childhood)



As for my autistic cousin, as young children she was social with the rest of my generation (I'm the oldest and she's second oldest of 7), but gradually became more isolated from the rest of the family through her choice and from what I could tell went through a hard spell in the early part of the last decade, which led her to not coming on some whole family meetings and on ones where I did see her never heard her speak. This was quite hard for me given our similar age and wanting to get on with her. While she was home schooled up to completing GCSEs (she apparently couldn't handle a school environment at first), her autism wasn't discovered until the hard spell she went through, which seems to be further along the spectrum than me (i.e. more severely affected). I don't know what support she may have had beyond home-schooling, but she returned to mainstream school for sixth form and went to Cambridge and managed fine in those environments from what I gather. I have been able to communicate with her more and am hoping maybe of being able to meet up independent of other family members. I would have tried this year but for obvious reasons I'm waiting for next year.
 
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Jamesrob637

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I believe that people such as this are the ones who need a good chance at opportunities in life, but said chances are rarely forthcoming. This being the chance to marry, or get a well-paid job, or whatever. People with such conditions can often be very sympathetic/empathetic, much more than others, to the extent that "normal" people will be very surprised, however it tends to be in certain aspects, usually something like abuse because they've experienced it themselves. They're still looked down on somewhat, but recognition and acceptance has grown enormously in the last twenty or so years. I have worked with said people and they are the nicest to be with even if they can't socialise like the rest every time and everywhere (again, in some aspects, their social skills put other "normal" people to shame.) But they are the ones to settle down with as they're usually brutally honest (does that mean many Germans suffer from it? I found them to never beat about the bush, typically stereotypical I know)
 

MattA7

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Thank you to those who responded I appreciate that it may have been difficult due to the personal nature of such question.
 

RuralRambler

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I've had a pretty good working life, after my teen years were ruined by a disastrous/awful secondary school experience. I think my choice of career/workplace helped, together with a bit of luck. I come across as very serious, aloof, straight, etc., and typically never got on with people my own age or younger, had no friends, couldn't socialise, etc. I've always gravitated to much older people. I got my first job straight from leaving school as a trainee accountant in a stuffy old fashioned accountancy practice run by a bloke in his 70's. This was early 80s, but they had no computers, manual adding machines, and, yes, they wrote using ink pens in ledgers. I fitted in remarkably well as most of the other staff were in their 50s and over. It wasn't a place where you socialised or got friendly with others, so perhaps I fitted in, or perhaps everyone else was ASD too! I was too young to understand ASD at the time and always thought of myself as odd until I started working with very similar people. I progressed very quickly, rising through the ranks and soon had my own portfolio of clients, which was pretty good for someone so young.

After a few years, I passed a few exams, and got a more senior job in one of our town's leading accountancy practices. Literally, by lunchtime the first day, I knew I'd made a terrible mistake, and it just got worse. The place was full of young extraverts - they had sports teams competing against other local firms, regular club/pub/party nights, quiz teams, the works. I went to a number of their social events at first to try to fit in, but I was a real fish out of water and hated them. After a while, I started making excuses, and then the bullying started - constant snide remarks about not wanting to socialise with them, people laughing as I passed, etc. The managers started to complain that I wasn't a "team player" but I challenged them and they had to admit they had no problems with my work. I couldn't wait to get out of there quick enough.

I applied for other jobs, went to various interviews, got offered a few jobs but I didn't get the right "vibes" so turned them down. I knew what to look out for now, so I actually asked about teams/social events at interviews and the firms who were really keen telling me about all the exciting things they did were crossed off my list. Eventually, the "right" job appeared - it was another old/crusty firm where the senior partner was in his 70s, but there was a junior partner and a couple of managers in their 50s. When I asked about social/team events, they said that most staff just did their own thing and not much was done through the office. That swung it for me. I took the job and spent many happy years there.

One of my clients was a fast growing tech firm who offered me a finance director job which I took as the pay/prospects were fantastic. Doh! I'd forgotten my earlier bad experience and it was history repeating itself. The job needed Board presentations, presentations to clients & suppliers, and presentations to financiers - I failed at that kind of thing miserably - my written documents/slides etc were perfect, but my performance in front of people was abysmal. It was growing so fast, we had to engage an assistant accountant, and I asked whether I could have that job and they advertised for a new FD but they were having none of it. I know I perform best in a supporting/technical role, but, no they weren't having any of it. So I only lasted 2 years. I left to set up my own accountancy practice, which I've been doing for 20 years now. It suits me just fine. I've concentrated on online/remote/technical support work, so I can minimise my personal interactions and do 99% of my work via the internet/email etc. It's been a massive success.

It's taken decades for me to understand ASD, and accept myself for what I am (and will always be). For my teen years and first couple of decades of work, I was always trying to fit in to how other people behave and it made my life a misery. Now I'm in my "acceptance" phase - I know I won't have dozens of close lifelong friends, I know I won't perform well in presentations, meetings with lots of people, etc. Once I accepted that and sought work/business/clients where I could be who I really am, I flourished.

So, yes, there is discrimination if your face doesn't fit - social/extravert firms want people like them, not quiet/shy people however well they can actually do the job.
 

21C101

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I suspect for many who are "high functioning" their prospects are a poor shadow of those like them 30 years ago when they would be unlikely to have been diagnosed, many corporate employers didn't do all sorts of psychometric tests on applicants and everyone was none the wiser and so and so was just seen as a bit different or quiet but good at what they did.

Everyone has to be labelled these days it seems.

On the other side of the coin, autistic/aspergers people must have gone through hell in things like national service back in those days.
 

Strathclyder

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Fully expecting most to flick past or otherwise ignore this...

This isn't a subject I like talking about all that much openly (let alone online), as it digs up a whole host of unpleasant thoughts & feelings (not to mention memories), but I've been thinking about it for a while now, so I'm bumping this thread up now to get it all off my chest. Sorry not sorry.

To a degree, I've been discriminated against for having aspergers my entire life (not by everyone I've ever met ofc, but the people who do are the ones the stick in your memory). I was diagnosed with it early on, as my parents had noticed I was having some developmental difficulties. In retrospect, what chance did I have, being labelled so early on in life? But high school in particular was unpleasant for me in this regard, looking back on it over a decade later.

Namely... not grasping things as quickly as my classmates and therefore falling behind, thereby being left feeling like, for want of a better word, a idiot. Struggling to socialize (this aspect of my life has improved massively since my early teens, but I still struggle with it sometimes) or find anyone I could actually call 'friend' and not have them make fun of me or my interests behind my back. Having to attend a series of special classes in high school, which sometimes did help, but the fact I was plucked out of my usual classes, occasionally in front of everyone present, to attend them left me feeling, on the whole, even worse than before. Not grabbing opportunities when they were presented to me, mostly as a result of being paralysed by indecision, a glaring lack of self-worth/confidence in my abilities and the prevailing pattern of thought in my head: 'you'd only screw it up or fall behind so much you'd end up dropping out, so why bother at all?' to the point that the opportunity had passed me by and I was left cursing myself and my mental frailties, which fed/feeds into my self-loathing and left my mental health in tatters.

In short, my time in high school is a time I'd (apart from a few key aspects, namely my cousins and my closest friend) rather forget. To be honest, looking back on it all now, finishing at the end of 4th year and going to college likely saved me from a mental break. Several factors came into play shortly after I left, chief among them my overall mental health (something I still wrestle with to this day) and a struggle with my sexuality which kicked itself into high gear in my mid-late teens (I came out as bisexual despite knowing deep down I was 101% gay. Parents/wider family were totally fine with it when they were told, but one doesn't know going in that will be the case. Am a openly gay young man nowadays, but I digress). If I had those two to deal with in addition to my usual 'aspie' struggles and having to take on the burden of higher exams (never mind prepping for them), there's a extremely high chance that I would've had a mental breakdown that would've set me back years.

Leaving high school at the end of 4th year, I headed to college to take up a course intended to help prepare people 'on the specturm' for the future (may have been something completely different, but that's what it felt like to me) really helped me turn a corner. Yes, some similarites could be drawn between it and the high school classes I mentioned above, but with several key differences. Chief among them was that I wasn't made to feel like I was 'slow', 'simple' a 'moron' and various other, far more derogatory phrases aimed squarely at my intelligence that I won't repeat here. Nor was I effectively put on display by being called from my regular sphere of classes to attend them. Granted, it wasn't perfect, but compared to high school, it was an oasis. And it also helped me massively improve my social skills as mentioned above. I had a bit of a bumpy start very early on (Aug. 2012) due to the sudden passing of my grandmother, but by the time I finished my 2nd year in June 2014, I was a different person to the one who started (for one thing, it helped me finally pluck up the nerve to come out that November).

Now, it goes without saying that I still struggle with this condition despite making the aforementioned progress, at the moment with trying to overcome my tendency to be paralysed by indecision, my chronic lack of self-worth and non-existent confidence in my abilities and resultant opportinites passing me by as a result, thus feeding what can become a vicious cycle of self-loathing and lack of self-worth, which itself feeds the ever-present depression. Identifying and trying to prevent or get on top of the root causes of these mental cinder blocks is a ongoing struggle. Sometimes, I feel like letting these 'anchors' drag me to the bottom and be done with it, save myself the struggle for what may ultimately be naught; given the cratering economy destroying what little job opportunites there were pre-pandemic for people like me (that, and the need for everyone to be diagnosed and labelled stacking the cards against me before I even think about applying anywhere for anything as @21C101 notes above). But I gotta keep on fighting, at least for my family's sake more than my own. And, as the saying goes, you never know precisely the future holds.

I tell you something though: I really, really, really don't want to be a finanical and physical burden on my parents forever...

(I should've posted this in @Cowley's thread on this subject given the way it's ended up going - a rather frustrated venting of the spleen - but once I got going...)
 
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Cowley

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Fully expecting most to flick past or otherwise ignore this...

This isn't a subject I like talking about all that much openly (let alone online), as it digs up a whole host of unpleasant thoughts & feelings (not to mention memories), but I've been thinking about it for a while now, so I'm bumping this thread up now to get it all off my chest. Sorry not sorry.

To a degree, I've been discriminated against for having aspergers my entire life. I was diagnosed with it early on, as my parents had noticed I was having some developmental difficulties. In retrospect, what chance did I have, being labelled so early on in life? But high school in particular was unpleasant for me in this regard, looking back on it over a decade later.

Namely... not grasping things as quickly as my classmates and therefore falling behind, thereby leaving feeling like, for want of a better word, a idiot. Struggling to socialize (this aspect of my life has improved massively since my early teens, but I still struggle with it sometimes) or find anyone I could actually call 'friend' and not have them make fun of me or my interests behind my back. Having to attend a series of special classes in high school, which sometimes did help, but the fact I was plucked out of my usual classes, more often than not in front of everyone present, to attend them left me feeling, on the whole, even worse than before. Not grabbing opportunities when they were presented to me, mostly as a result of being paralysed by indecision, a glaring lack of self-worth/confidence in my abilities and the prevailing pattern of thought in my head: 'you'd only screw it up or fall behind so much you'd end up dropping out, so why bother at all?' to the point that the opportunity had passed me by and I was left cursing myself and my mental frailties, which fed/feeds into my self-loathing and left my mental health in tatters.

In short, my time in high school is a time I'd (apart from a few key aspects, namely my cousins and my closest friend) rather forget. To be honest, finishing at the end of 4th year and going to college likely saved me from a mental break. Several factors came into play shortly after I left, chief among them my overall mental health (something I still wrestle with to this day) and a struggle with my sexuality which kicked itself into high gear in my mid-late teens (I came out as bisexual despite knowing deep down I was 101% gay. Parents/wider family were totally fine with it when they were told, but one doesn't know going in that will be the case, but I digress). If I had those two to deal with in addition to my usual 'aspie' struggles and having to take on the burden of higher exams (never mind prepping for them), there's a extremely high chance that I would've had a mental breakdown that would've set me back years.

Leaving high school at the end of 4th year, I headed to college to take up a course intended to help prepare people 'on the specturm' for the future (may have been something completely different, but that's what it felt like to me) really helped me turn a corner. Yes, some similarites could be drawn between it and the high school classes I mentioned above, but with several key differences. Chief among them was that I wasn't made to feel like I was 'slow', 'simple' a 'moron' and various other, far more derogatory phrases aimed squarely at my intelligence that I won't repeat here. Nor was I effectively put on display by being called from my regular sphere of classes to attend them. Granted, it wasn't perfect, but compared to high school, it was an oasis. And it also helped me massively improve my social skills as mentioned above. I had a bit of a bumpy start very early on (Aug. 2012) due to the sudden passing of my grandmother, but by the time I finished my 2nd year in June 2014, I was a different person to the one who started (for one thing, it helped me finally pluck up the nerve to come out that November).

Now, it goes without saying I still struggle with this condition despite making the aforementioned progress, at the moment with trying to overcome my tendency to be paralysed by indecision, my chronic lack of self-worth and non-existent confidence in my abilities and resultant opportinites passing me by as a result, thus feeding what can become a vicious cycle of self-loathing and lack of self-worth, which itself feeds the ever-present depression. Identifying and trying to prevent or get on top of the root causes of these mental cinder blocks is a ongoing struggle. Sometimes, I feel like letting these 'anchors' drag me to the bottom and be done with it, save myself the struggle for what may ultimately be naught; given the cratering economy destroying what little job opportunites there were pre-pandemic for people like me (that, and the need for everyone to be diagnosed and labelled stacking the cards against me before I even think about applying anywhere for anything as @21C101 notes above). But I gotta keep on fighting, at least for my family's sake more than my own. And, as the saying goes, you never know precisely the future holds.

I tell you something though: I really, really, really don't want to be a finanical and physical burden on my parents forever...

(I should've posted this in @Cowley's thread on this subject given the way it's ended up going - a rather frustrated venting of the spleen - but once I got going...)

I think it would have fitted into either really @Strathclyder so don’t worry.
Yours was a very powerful post. Thanks for sharing your experiences and wording it so well, when you read something like that you can’t help but compare it with your own life. I don’t know how I would have coped with that set of issues on top of the fact that I didn’t enjoy high school particularly either...

The thread I started is here if anyone hasn’t seen it before:
 

Lucan

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Even from so called professional people such as teachers or careers advisors who have grossly underestimated my abilities. In my school years I was told if I were to sit standard grades I WILL fail and was wasting my time even considering it.

Aspergers is nothing to do with ability to pass exams, and it also occurs to different degrees. I have just checked Wikipedia to confirm my understanding of it, and here is a quote from it
People with Asperger syndrome often display restricted or specialized interests, such as this boy's interest in stacking cans.

I have a more than average dose of Aspergers myself and I also loved stacking cans. Stacking cans was a foundation to my getting a higher engineering degree eventually and a senior job in industry. I don't like dealing with people face to face but I have learned some "tricks" to cope although it takes an effort that is tiring. I'm told I do well at job interviews but I'm hopeless at parties (not that I get invited to any). To most people I seem to be just a humanoid machine that can solve technical problems, so I'm useful at least.

In fact many of the greatest geniuses had Aspergers. Isaac Newton showed a severe level of it, obsessed with his scientific work, totally unsociable, and avoided women. Darwin : obsessed with his natural history specimens. The writers Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy : astute observers of human character because they stood aside and watched. Hardy had a side gate in his back garder, his postern gate, and would escape through it when he heard the maid open the front door to visitors, leaving his wife to serve them tea.

Did you mean you have been discriminated against officially or unofficially? I can't say I've been officially discriminated against - I don't generally tell people or interview panels that I'm a bit Asperger, if they can't see it for themselves it does not matter. Certainly unofficially though, particularly trying to meet girls when younger - most hate you for it. But it was easier with ones who had Aspergers themselves, they do exist, although in women it is more accepted as just modesty or shyness. But I won't go into that here.
 

21C101

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I suspect that most of us here are on the spectrum to some extent.

I now have a successful career and family with several teenage children, but experienced much the same as @Strathclyder at school and had to learn all the social interaction subtleties that most know innately (some of those who read my posts will no doubt say I haven't learned this properly yet).

In the early years I held onto the job by the skin of my teeth and the kind toleration of others (something in much shorter supply these days) and it was difficult to form relationships. At this end of the career the attention to detail and ability to recall facts and places and previous work, make me highly valued

Online tests suggest I am on the border of Aspergers and Autism but I would never want to be formally diagnosed and suspect if I had been as a teenager my life would have been very different and not for the better (although I would have avoided a lot of the unpleasant experience in teenage and early 20's years.
 

Strathclyder

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I think it would have fitted into either really @Strathclyder so don’t worry.
Yours was a very powerful post. Thanks for sharing your experiences and wording it so well, when you read something like that you can’t help but compare it with your own life. I don’t know how I would have coped with that set of issues on top of the fact that I didn’t enjoy high school particularly either...
Thank you, @Cowley. Even without the added pressure/stress of higher exams, the mental health and sexuality struggles really were a drain on 16-18 y/o me. The latter in particular had a long-reaching/lasting effect, most of it positive after a certain point.

I was already something of a outcast for being on the aspegers/autism spectrum, but the fact that I was increasingly finding the idea of being with a woman, either romantically or sexually, unappealing in every sense and that I was almost certainly gay really terrified me at the time. Basically, I felt like it would've been another proverbial 'kick me' sign on my back. But the more I tried to ignore it, pass it off as a phase etc, the more difficult it was to ignore. The aformentioned growth/change I underwent at college eventually allowed me to come out as bisexual as already mentioned (more as a fallback in case my parents reacted adversely than anything else) and later fully accept myself as a gay man.

Maybe I should've saved this for a LGBT-themed thread, but it's out there now, so... lol
 

mikeg

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To be fair yes I've been discriminated against on these grounds, but I do think this postmodernist posturing is unhelpful. It's less than the discrimination I've received for being from the white working class. Austism discrimination is real, I don't doubt that, but no doubt if I'd had a nobby background it wouldn't have been half the issue. Or another , more visible, protected characteristic so I'd have been protected on the grounds of race, for example.

I will however say that I hid my condition on most application forms and most jobs I got were where I didn't delcare it. I've only ever had one job, with my current employer where I declared it from the go. There was also a marked difference in the interview rate for jobs where it was declared on the equality section, versus those where it wasn't, despite the thing supposed to be kept separate. In one job interview that I did get where I'd declared my autism on the form I was asked questoins like 'You are in good health aren't you?', 'Are you sure you won't struggle with xyz?' in that tone that suggests, you're maybe a bit simple. I'd also ticked the MH box on the form and they asked me if I frequently get violent. Needless to say I didn't get the job but I guess they'd invited me to interview at least, maybe some box ticking exercise.

But no, on the whole having a working class background, a Northern accent and being the first in my immediate family to go to University so not having the connections others have were more of an issue, along with the comprehensive school system. Actually there's only two things I hold against my parents in this respect: My neurotypical brother was entered into the eleven plus exams. I was not so like many kids from my background missed out on a decent secondary education, despite making the advanced sets when I actually got to school in many subjects . The other is a story for another thread.
 
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Lucan

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Several factors came into play shortly after I left, ..... and a struggle with my sexuality which kicked itself into high gear in my mid-late teens (I came out as bisexual despite knowing deep down I was 101% gay.
I assure you that even with 101% straight sexuality that is it is not plain sailing. Perhaps even worse than being gay (these days at least) is being regarded as non-sexual, as I was until at least my mid-20s - for reasons I have never fathomed. Partly perhaps because I did well academically and it is assumed that can only mean you are asexual. People made remarks front of me like : "Of course, Lucan is not interested in girls" and no-one ever intoduced me to any, not even casually. Apsergers makes interaction with other people difficult, but for a young man even more so with girls, and I found it physically impossible to approach any myself - I found my knees starting to give way. I was 24 before I first had a conversation with a girl - we met though a dating agency and the experience was a culture shock, nothing like I had imagined. Fortunately she was mostly interested in herself so she did not really notice how gauche I was.
 

mikeg

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Same experience as Lucan here. For some reason people assume we're pretty much asexual. To be honest I don't help myself here because I've pretty much given up trying in that department even if it's something I'd like. I just can't get it right and for some reason the medical establishment still is stuffy about such things so there's little in the way of practical help available.
 

Strathclyder

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I assure you that even with 101% straight sexuality that is it is not plain sailing. Perhaps even worse than being gay (these days at least) is being regarded as non-sexual, as I was until at least my mid-20s - for reasons I have never fathomed. Partly perhaps because I did well academically and it is assumed that can only mean you are asexual. People made remarks front of me like : "Of course, Lucan is not interested in girls" and no-one ever intoduced me to any, not even casually. Apsergers makes interaction with other people difficult, but for a young man even more so with girls, and I found it physically impossible to approach any myself - I found my knees starting to give way. I was 24 before I first had a conversation with a girl - we met though a dating agency and the experience was a culture shock, nothing like I had imagined. Fortunately she was mostly interested in herself so she did not really notice how gauche I was.
Indeed in regards to the asexual part. I too am utterly baffled as to why some view it as a vaild reason to discriminate against others (re: it isn't). As far as I can recall, I personally was never labelled as asexual, at least no-one ever said it to my face.

And of course, having aspergers & interacting with people is difficult enough, never mind for this kind of thing. To be honest, I would find it rather difficult to approach a lad that I found attractive (of course, he'd also have to find me attractive or make the first move etc) and ask him out face-to-face, even with my improved social skills to back me up. At least in this regard, the internet has saved me quite a lot of stress. Related to this, my first ahem... 'under the covers' encounter with another male didn't occur until I was 22. Prior to that day, I'd lost all hope of it ever happening at all. It was a major boost to the old self-confidence to say the least.

I should stress that I'm not saying all of this to make other folk jealous or to invalidate their preferences/life experiences, am merely detailing my own experiences in dealing with this ruddy handicap.
 

STEVIEBOY1

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Yes, the internet has helped alot with relationship issues, I have found it a boon and have met a few people that way online.
 

alex397

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Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. It is great that more people feel confident talking about this now.

Reading through this thread is encouraging me to investigate my own issues. I feel I may have been in denial about being on the spectrum. I have had social difficulties all my life, but I just thought it was anxiety/depression causing it. But perhaps it is more.

It may sound like I’m trying to get a label. But I don’t really need another label with the other medical issues I have. It may turn out that I don’t have this, but I feel I need to investigate. It may lead me to some counselling or medication.

I have experience in schools with children with special educational needs, including autism, Aspergers, and also the lesser known Dyspraxia. To me, it seems things are a lot better for these children now. Staff generally know the signs to look out for, including for quiet children and girls, who often go undiagnosed. And teaching these children is not done in a patronising way either, like I seem to remember from my childhood. Some sections of the media make it look like everyone is desperate for a ‘label’, and that people use it as an excuse for their behaviour. Maybe that’s true for a minority, but that really isn’t what I see myself.
 
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21C101

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Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. It is great that more people feel confident talking about this now.

Reading through this thread is encouraging me to investigate my own issues. I feel I may have been in denial about being on the spectrum. I have had social difficulties all my life, but I just thought it was anxiety/depression causing it. But perhaps it is more.

It may sound like I’m trying to get a label. But I don’t really need another label with the other medical issues I have. It may turn out that I don’t have this, but I feel I need to investigate. It may lead me to some counselling or medication.

I have experience in schools with children with special educational needs, including autism, Aspergers, and also the lesser known Dyspraxia. To me, it seems things are a lot better for these children now. Staff generally know the signs to look out for, including for quiet children and girls, who often go undiagnosed. And teaching these children is not done in a patronising way either, like I seem to remember from my childhood. Some sections of the media make it look like everyone is desperate for a ‘label’, and that people use it as an excuse for their behaviour. Maybe that’s true for a minority, but that really isn’t what I see myself.
I am not a doctor but I suspect in a lot of cases the anxiety/depression is due to exhaustion/stress from having to conciously do what others unconciously do to "fit in" socially.

I very much dislike meetings but am told I come alive during them. That is because I am acting and feel the same pre meeting tension and post meeting exhaustion as an actor on the stage.

It gets easier with practice as you get older and now, a few short years from retirement I suspect I will have perfected it just in time to hand back the keys.
 

alex397

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I am not a doctor but I suspect in a lot of cases the anxiety/depression is due to exhaustion/stress from having to conciously do what others unconciously do to "fit in" socially.

I very much dislike meetings but am told I come alive during them. That is because I am acting and feel the same pre meeting tension and post meeting exhaustion as an actor on the stage.

It gets easier with practice as you get older and now, a few short years from retirement I suspect I will have perfected it just in time to hand back the keys.
Your reply here makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve only just started thinking about it this way, and it would explain a lot of my behaviour.

Im pleased to hear it has got easier for you with practice.
 

jb108822

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Fully expecting most to flick past or otherwise ignore this...

This isn't a subject I like talking about all that much openly (let alone online), as it digs up a whole host of unpleasant thoughts & feelings (not to mention memories), but I've been thinking about it for a while now, so I'm bumping this thread up now to get it all off my chest. Sorry not sorry.

To a degree, I've been discriminated against for having aspergers my entire life. I was diagnosed with it early on, as my parents had noticed I was having some developmental difficulties. In retrospect, what chance did I have, being labelled so early on in life? But high school in particular was unpleasant for me in this regard, looking back on it over a decade later.

Namely... not grasping things as quickly as my classmates and therefore falling behind, thereby being left feeling like, for want of a better word, a idiot. Struggling to socialize (this aspect of my life has improved massively since my early teens, but I still struggle with it sometimes) or find anyone I could actually call 'friend' and not have them make fun of me or my interests behind my back. Having to attend a series of special classes in high school, which sometimes did help, but the fact I was plucked out of my usual classes, occasionally in front of everyone present, to attend them left me feeling, on the whole, even worse than before. Not grabbing opportunities when they were presented to me, mostly as a result of being paralysed by indecision, a glaring lack of self-worth/confidence in my abilities and the prevailing pattern of thought in my head: 'you'd only screw it up or fall behind so much you'd end up dropping out, so why bother at all?' to the point that the opportunity had passed me by and I was left cursing myself and my mental frailties, which fed/feeds into my self-loathing and left my mental health in tatters.

In short, my time in high school is a time I'd (apart from a few key aspects, namely my cousins and my closest friend) rather forget. To be honest, looking back on it all now, finishing at the end of 4th year and going to college likely saved me from a mental break. Several factors came into play shortly after I left, chief among them my overall mental health (something I still wrestle with to this day) and a struggle with my sexuality which kicked itself into high gear in my mid-late teens (I came out as bisexual despite knowing deep down I was 101% gay. Parents/wider family were totally fine with it when they were told, but one doesn't know going in that will be the case. Am a openly gay young man nowadays, but I digress). If I had those two to deal with in addition to my usual 'aspie' struggles and having to take on the burden of higher exams (never mind prepping for them), there's a extremely high chance that I would've had a mental breakdown that would've set me back years.

Leaving high school at the end of 4th year, I headed to college to take up a course intended to help prepare people 'on the specturm' for the future (may have been something completely different, but that's what it felt like to me) really helped me turn a corner. Yes, some similarites could be drawn between it and the high school classes I mentioned above, but with several key differences. Chief among them was that I wasn't made to feel like I was 'slow', 'simple' a 'moron' and various other, far more derogatory phrases aimed squarely at my intelligence that I won't repeat here. Nor was I effectively put on display by being called from my regular sphere of classes to attend them. Granted, it wasn't perfect, but compared to high school, it was an oasis. And it also helped me massively improve my social skills as mentioned above. I had a bit of a bumpy start very early on (Aug. 2012) due to the sudden passing of my grandmother, but by the time I finished my 2nd year in June 2014, I was a different person to the one who started (for one thing, it helped me finally pluck up the nerve to come out that November).

Now, it goes without saying I still struggle with this condition despite making the aforementioned progress, at the moment with trying to overcome my tendency to be paralysed by indecision, my chronic lack of self-worth and non-existent confidence in my abilities and resultant opportinites passing me by as a result, thus feeding what can become a vicious cycle of self-loathing and lack of self-worth, which itself feeds the ever-present depression. Identifying and trying to prevent or get on top of the root causes of these mental cinder blocks is a ongoing struggle. Sometimes, I feel like letting these 'anchors' drag me to the bottom and be done with it, save myself the struggle for what may ultimately be naught; given the cratering economy destroying what little job opportunites there were pre-pandemic for people like me (that, and the need for everyone to be diagnosed and labelled stacking the cards against me before I even think about applying anywhere for anything as @21C101 notes above). But I gotta keep on fighting, at least for my family's sake more than my own. And, as the saying goes, you never know precisely the future holds.

I tell you something though: I really, really, really don't want to be a finanical and physical burden on my parents forever...

(I should've posted this in @Cowley's thread on this subject given the way it's ended up going - a rather frustrated venting of the spleen - but once I got going...)
Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure a number of people on here can identify with many parts of it. One thing I find interesting is that research seems to show autistic people are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than those who aren't autistic. As for the reasons why this may be the case, I'm not sure, but it's an area where I think there could - and perhaps should - be some more research. Something that's often interested me is why things are the way they are. I don't think that childlike curiosity has ever left me, though it could be an autistic thing as well.
 

STEVIEBOY1

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Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure a number of people on here can identify with many parts of it. One thing I find interesting is that research seems to show autistic people are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than those who aren't autistic. As for the reasons why this may be the case, I'm not sure, but it's an area where I think there could - and perhaps should - be some more research. Something that's often interested me is why things are the way they are. I don't think that childlike curiosity has ever left me, though it could be an autistic thing as well.
That's a very interesting thing to hear.
 
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