Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Take the Focus off Autism

Those on the autism spectrum are known for their hyperactive focus. This is the sort of focus which impedes with the perception and interaction of the surrounding world.  Now, employers such as SAP are recognizing the potential value of these individuals with autism and filling tech positions with those on the spectrum.  However, the reason this works is not because the focus is placed on technology rather than autism.

Let me use another example that is a foremost struggled faced by those with autism: relationships.  Particularly, romantic relationships.  This is something that many on the autism spectrum long for and ultimately struggle with.  Please view one of my most popular blog posts on the subject to see how I felt about this issue three years ago.  Of course, that was before I met Jackie.

Jackie and I met through the popular online dating site Eharmony.  We're getting married next summer.  We've lived together for more than a year in our own apartment.  We both are a vital part of making our relationship work.

She knows I have autism.  I told her a few days after we started talking.  She has two cousins who are more severely autistic than I am.  Since she used to babysit her cousins, she is very familiar with autism.

She accepts me for who I am as an individual on the spectrum.  Her feelings on the subject is that autism is simply another way of being.  Just like there are different races and cultures, autism is simply a different neurological state.  I'm really lucky to have her.

In our day to day life, autism never really comes up anymore.  Our focus is on our respective jobs, keeping up with household chores, our respective families, and planning our wedding.  The topic of autism might come up if we have difficulty communicating or don't see eye to eye on something.  Other than that, our focus is not on autism, it's on each other and it's on the world around us.

One thing to really keep in mind about autism that as a spectrum disorder, there are correlations between those on the spectrum but what solves one person's problem is not guaranteed to solve the same problem for another person.  I'm not saying my approach to my relationship and upcoming marriage will work for all.  I'm only mildly affected by the spectrum unlike many others.

To make a relationship work, or to make an employment opportunity work with a company such as SAP, the focus should not be on autism.  The focus should not be on the behaviors or characteristics that make someone autistic.  Rather, the focus should instead be on the interests that can translate into employable skills.  Or in the case of relationships, the focus should be on making day to day life work with your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, husband or wife.

Do you have any feedback on the topics discussed above?  Perhaps you have a story where the focus was taken off of autism?  How did that change things?  Leave your comments below my friends and don't forget to tell others about the Voice from the Spectrum!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's Been a While...

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in this blog back in October   A lot of things are different now in my life.  In November, I moved into my own place and I've been living independently since that time.   Also in November, I proposed to my girlfriend and we are planning our wedding for July 2016.

Back in February, I started work in a internet marketing call center and I've been doing quite well.  Being on the autism spectrum, I never pictured myself working in a call center and while it's been difficult at times for the most part it's going well.  Everyone I trained with at work knows I'm on the autism spectrum and have been quite accepting.

For my new job, I have to commute an hour one way to work.  This means I work eight hours and drive two hours a day.  My autism podcasts have stopped and I also had to quit teaching for OUCARES.  I have also stopped playing the clarinet in the New Horizons Band. There are too many things going on now.  I do miss teaching, band, and hosting my shows.

What with living independently, preparing my wedding, and working full time I'm not thinking that much about being on the autism spectrum.  Instead, I'm focusing instead on the rest of my life.  I think that's the way it should be.  It's better to focus on what can be done instead of what can't be done.

On the flip side, I also am learning that in the midst of day to day life with responsibilities wearing down, it can be difficult to heed the advice of someone far removed from those difficulties.  That being said, I wonder what value my words have provided those struggling with far more autism related trials than I am facing.

This is one reason why I am not advocating for autism as much as I used to.  It is wearing to be a self advocate for autism at times.