Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Kenz501, Feb 8, 2019.
Feb 10, 2019
I'm looking for a "survival job." They really are not easy to come by, especially for someone who is afraid of people. (Agorophobia is actually one of my newer diagnoses--yeah, I guess I should go to someone who knows what they are talking about and stop letting some of these people diagnose me with the alphabet). I'm happy to have my freelance writing, but it won't pay too many bills.
People with autism often have strange obsessions / fascinations--cars, rocks, trains, planes, celebrities, dolls, etc. They can change or remain fixed.
Mine have been mental illnesses, animals--cats in particular, certain celebrities, grammar, words, video games, comic books, anime, teaching, educational psychology, and animal behavioral psychology.
I think it also goes back to age-old adage, “Easier said than done.” Putting into practice what you have learned is very different than just knowing it. You can memorize an algorithm to solve a Rubix cube, but if you cannot use said algorithm to actually solve it, then what good is it?
That’s also where many students fall short is that they say they know it, but when it comes time for them to demonstrate what they supposedly know (on tests and quizzes), then they can’t do it. And then when I require them to come to tutoring, I find out the reason why they can’t solve it and it’s because they don’t actually have a clue what they are doing and convinced themselves that they do.
Yes, but the phrase "weird fascinations" conjures all types of things. None of the things you listed I would consider weird. which is why I questioned the phrase. The word weird threw me since I do know about ASD and its obsessive interests.
My only question is who is doing the diagnosing - you, or a neuropsychologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist who has experience with ASD? Self diagnosing is a fool's game when you are talking about something with such long term impacts.
I wouldn't claim it if I hadn't been diagnosed with it at least once, except for OCD, because I'm almost positive I have that, yet the psychiatrist won't confirm or deny it. Everything else, though, I've been diagnosed with at least once I think.
ASD is one of my diagnoses, but there are other things, too, according to the doctor. I think it's really all ASD-related, though--depression (maybe), agorophobia, schizoaffective disorder (I'll need to ask for clarification on this one because I don't have significant delusions or hallucinations, so I'm not sure why this is listed), OCD (maybe; I have OCD-like symptoms, usually dealing with saying certain things), panic disorder (or something related to panic).
I feel almost like I need the ASD diagnosis, because I need social skills training and other forms of help, and my symptoms are not controlled by medication (I haven't had an easy time tolerating anything prescribed to me perhaps). Plus, I get along well with and have an easy time relating to the experiences of other high-functioning autistics.
Schizophrenia diagnoses bother me, because I feel almost like it's the equivalent of the "cancer" diagnosis you might get from typing symptoms into Web MD. It covers such a broad range of behaviors that the autism diagnosis could get explained away. Plus, it means I would be stuck taking meds for the rest of my life if it's true.
Well, I guess what's "weird" isn't really the obsessive interests, maybe just to the extent a person can be obsessed with these things. I've spent hours and hours on my interests. Of course, that's not atypical for a female, so...
...and I guess doing a report on schizophrenia for show and tell, or something school-related, when I was in elementary school counts as weird, but it's not like I did things like that all of the time.
I don't think that won me any points with my peers, though...
OP, I only ask who is making the diagnosis because you are going to need that paper trail to obtain the skills training you desire. Because I teach SPED, I know that there will be a real need to have a definitive diagnosis done by one or more neuropsychologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Going into this with "I was once told it was X, but I think it is Y" will be counterproductive. My son has a documented disability that routinely allowed him more time on standardized tests, but as he has aged, as an adult, they are asking for current diagnosis rather than the ones from his childhood. Now, we are talking about a vision problem that has no chance of ever getting better, yet the requirement for further testing remains. Having dealt with students with varied classifications, I know that the diagnosis must be from the right specialist, or it is considered hearsay. Just sharing what I know.
Thanks for the tip. I applied for SSI. Even if I don't get it, they might be able to give me an idea of what counts as acceptable documentation and what doesn't. My ASD diagnosis was enough to sign up for vocational rehab and job skills training, though, even though it seems like they're taking their time getting back to me, or they're stretched very thin.
To get something more substantial I might have to see a psychiatrist who specializes in adult autism or something.
In other news, I think I'm going to apply for a telemarketing job or two and see if anything comes of that.
My EX was in his 30’s when he got his ASD diagnosis. It looked a lot like anxiety at first, and then I mentioned ASD to the doctor when we were discussing OCD-type issues I was seeing at home. I work with a lot of students with ASD, and I used the strategies for him that I used with them.
While it is true that workers cannot discriminate against you based on the disability, they can still fire you if you cannot perform the job.
I have worked with a co-teacher with ASD. It was tough. The person has the content knowledge and desire to do well, but it is a struggle for me. Even though this person looks good on paper and CAN do some things well, dealing with that person is more work that doing all the work myself. We have been teaching nearly the same number of years, yet that person drives me crazy needing extra assistance that is way beyond what someone should need at that point in a career.
Feb 11, 2019
May I ask for an example?
Temple Grandin wrote a book or two on high-functioning autism. One suggestion she made that's stuck out to me is you have to become an expert's expert in your field or expect that no one will respect you, or at least that's how I might be interpreting it, anyway. Sure, the things we do well, we do very well, and, in some jobs, we are indispensable. In others, though, we're just the opposite.
My major was ELA, and that was a poor move my part, as there is just something about teaching English, if it's not just grammar and vocabulary, that I have a lot of trouble with. Sure, I can read and write well, but I do most of the things I try to teach my students without thinking about it, and my strategies for learning the material make no sense to some of my students. That's a problem, because, with ELA, it means that I'm basically learning along with my students, not necessarily how to use the skills I already have, but how to teach and explain those skills, as those, for some reason, are foreign concepts to me. That's why I needed the lesson planning guides so badly. Without them, I didn't know which learning strategies to use to teach the reading concepts. It made my job nearly impossible to do. (It might help to mention the person who took over my class later in the year was the same way; she just knew how to ask for what she needed and get help, from what I could tell, so I don't think I'm wrong in saying that lack of communication was probably the biggest problem.)
I'm not even sure it would happen with another subject. I've sub taught other subjects I was much less familiar with than ELA, and the lack of familiarity actually helped me teach those subjects to the kids. The problem I see there, though, aside from actually becoming certified to teach another subject, is that times change. I could become a good teacher of one subject I wasn't super familiar with, but I would eventually become familiar with that subject. Still, though, it seems like learning the teaching strategies along with the material is a good strategy for me since my thinking may be a bit more rigid than people without ASD.
I get that rigid thinking can be a problem, but I can adapt. It's just a slower, more methodical process.
A much bigger issue I have is classroom management, but I was never taught any real methods, just loose strategies, so I can't say for sure if my lack of familiarity with it is ASD related or not. I'll assume that it is, and well, the social disconnect might be a lot more difficult to overcome, but I've found that students don't misbehave much when they're engaged in learning something new. It's not the most effective management strategy, though, unfortunately.
This would be where I would need to depend on a more senior teacher on my hall, one who has already established a reputation with the kids. That's what I tried to do at this middle school job, and it worked okay for a while, but it all fell apart because I didn't know how to teach the content. Eventually the teacher stopped helping me, later claiming that I ignored her advice, and just let me "sink or swim." Predictably, I sank like a rock. I wasn't really ignoring her advice, though, I didn't know what to teach, so many of her organization and management strategies I couldn't apply because I had no plans to apply them to.
Going back to the veterinarian example, though, I guess I should have just swallowed my pride and tried tried to explain that I was having too much trouble. I did try, though. No one who helped me even understood what I was asking about until I got in contact with the person in charge of helping teachers with the curriculum--a person the principal originally told me did not exist at the school!
Do I think the whole situation could have been avoided had I had more experience being upfront with people, thinking about what they needed to know, and how to communicate that information? I certainly do. I think the main reason I failed was that I had no idea how to communicate my training needs to the person in charge. She already knew I wasn't good at lesson planning, as I explained that. The other teachers knew as much as well, but what they didn't know was that I was also terrible at (a) understanding what my coworkers were telling me and (b) feeling "safe" explaining misunderstandings and shortcomings that might have been expected, given my skill level. The curriculum coach didn't seem to think my struggles were a big deal, and even the teacher who took over my classroom needed the lesson planning guides to teach the material, so I really am seeing it as a lack of communication.
Unfortunately, those are hard for me to explain, because now, now that I've had time to think about it, I had several ways out, but fear from past negative job experiences probably played a big role in me not even considering those as possibilities at the time (this isn't the first time I was expected to know a lot more than I was actually able to demonstrate--I mean I was practically a straight-A student, got hired by the place where I interned, why did they have a reason to think that I wasn't going to do well?)
No, since these things really are that difficult to explain, and I didn't even know what accommodations I needed, I think I should just assume that teaching at a public school is a bad fit. Would it continue to be a bad fit with more training? Maybe not, but do I want to take that chance after obtaining a master's degree and still being lost? No, I don't. I don't think I did the wrong thing by resigning, but I do wish I would have lined something else up in the meantime.
Oh well, my objective now is to find a "survival job," something that will pay the bills regardless of if it's interesting or not. My freelance writing job was really easy to get, so online options may make the most sense--the interview process is handled via an easy to complete test, or sometimes interviews are done over the phone; in either case, there's no tricky face-to-face stuff to worry about.
Later, I may look for small online teaching or tutoring opportunities to satisfy this craving I have to work as a teacher.
Hopefully those things will tide me over while I wait on SSI and vocational rehabilitation. If this school year passes, and I still don't have a job I'm satisfied with (probably because vocational rehabilitation didn't help me find what they thought I would be best suited for), I may attempt to look for another teaching job with the understanding that I will fully disclose my disability, shortcomings, and known accommodation needs and will not put myself in a position where I feel pressured to stay on even if I'm not performing well. (positions that may fit this description are 'teacher's aide,' 'co-teacher,' and 'in-house tutor.')
I plan to keep my teaching license in both states current and get professional development when I can afford to pay for the classes, as here in Texas, they aren't free, unless there's something I still don't know about.
Another thing I guess I need to do, but I think I've already started to do this with vocational rehab, is accept that not everyone who points out that I have limitations and am not suited for certain jobs is the "enemy" or "just interested in seeing me fail." In fact, it's probably the opposite, and maybe I should have listened to those people all along. I had to find out for myself, though. People can be stubborn sometimes, and I'm no exception.
With a recent diagnosis of agoraphobia, you should look for jobs that let you work from home. I have a friend who does medical billing and coding. It required minimal training, and pays fairly well. I'm not sure how well you'd do with telemarketing, as that requires strong communication skills, though if there was a job where you could stick to a script, like giving a survey, that may be a good fit for you.
We have an employee with some form of ASD who works in our district. He is a homebound instructor, meaning he travels to the homes or hospitals of students who are too ill to come to school for an extended period of time. It seems to be a good fit for him. I can't imagine him managing a classroom of students.
Yeah, I agree that it's turning out to not be a fit. At first I thought it was lack of training, but if vocational rehab tells me it's something else, I don't want to keep "beating a dead horse." I would rather work somewhere I can thrive and make a difference. I hate being a hindrance on the job. It does nothing for me except fill temporary needs and make me feel guilty and frustrated.
I could probably work at a tutoring center or in some other one-on-one or small group setting.
I do hate that the only hint I ever got that any of this could happen were vague sayings, such as "college isn't for everyone." Had someone been more straight-forward and explained exactly why, I don't feel like I would have put up the amount of resistance I did. People have a very bad habit of not explaining what they mean, and in a context where I had to be the adult even when I was a child, they were easy to tune out.
OP, I doubt that you would have gotten any kind of "nice" message, because you don't read context. Unless you have a best friend who knows how to take veiled warnings and turn them into something that you would understand, well, I don't know how anyone would have come right out and said "you are wasting your money going through grad school." Heavens, they didn't bother to tell you when you were in undergrad, either. My best guess is that they figured that not getting a job with the first degree would stimulate your family and friends to point out why you weren't able to turn an education into a profession. It is easy, now, to say you wouldn't have put up resistance, but most people do have a way of tuning out what they don't want to hear or believe. I mean, how many posts have you written about "they won't train me" with answers like "it's not their job to train you - you should know this stuff"? I mean, those who recognize that you really don't get context have tried to say that, and point out that it isn't another teacher's job to "train you", but look how long it has taken for you to believe this and come to grips with it. Honestly, someone in your family should have recognized some of these symptoms and had a long talk with you. It shouldn't fall on the shoulders of strangers to be the bearers of such bad news, should it? Consider me confused about how you could get through so much schooling without some inkling that you didn't think like most people. Just a thought on my part.
If your discussion on this board is any indication about how your respond to information you don't like, I disagree that you would not have put up the amount of resistance you did. People have gone from tip-toeing around the subject to being straight up blunt and to the point. It was irrelevant how the information was presented.
Please, Kenz. Follow up with vocational rehab. Have an adult without communication problems be on a call with you to vocational rehab. Give the other adult permission to discuss with vocational rehab. Ask for another meeting where you can take that adult with you so that person can hear what you need to do.
I have a funny feeling that there is also a disconnect between what was said at vocational rehab and what you are doing.
Please let me know you read this post because very post so far where I gave a suggestion of what you can do to help your situation such as speech therapy for communication skills or other therapy, you gave no response.
Maybe. I guess it's taken me a while to really "come to grips" with the idea that I even had a significant problem to begin with. It's been masked by tough teaching environments, a bad economy, and poor preparation, but last year was a bit of an eye opener. In a nearly ideal teaching environment, I still struggled and failed. I think I'm finally getting the point.
No one in my family, except maybe my dad, would have been against me becoming a teacher; they, too, were mostly unaware of how much I was struggling or what was really wrong.
I definitely didn't know. I was distrustful of people who made those kinds of comments anyway; to me they translated more to, "you aren't like me, so I don't need to try to understand you." It didn't come across as genuine advice, more just something people repeat for reasons I don't know. That might be because they never suggested alternatives. I put it all in the category of "bullying" if it came from peers, "misinformation" if it came from adults, and it never came from the people I trusted, but those were mostly my professors.
Another job suggestion: transcribing. You can work from home and I think it’s a low risk job that will suit. Have a think about that.
Kenz, this is as genuine as it comes. I have a family member that was once considered high functioning Asperger's, what is now ASD. I have had the conversations, tried to explain things like why don't others have the same problems, why do I have to work so hard, and the list goes on. Because I am in education, I did the research and figured it out. I have mentored that individual, tried to adjust the thinking when I can tell something isn't making sense, and sometimes I just have to make a hard call that ends with "do it my way first, and then we will talk." This individual can tell when there has been success after trying my way first, which allows for learning and more independent thought processes. I have been in the right place at the right time for this one individual. That experience has sometimes been hard for me, since there is so much to love about this individual. I love every success, every learning moment, and every bit of growth I have witnessed. Is it a path I would willingly choose for anyone to walk? Absolutely not. It makes every day life so much harder than most will ever know. I am grateful that many individuals with ASD are capable of living independently, often flying under the radar of almost all but the few who really know what to look for. I wish you success in finding a course of action that will make your life easier. I second having someone you trust in on every phone call. Realistically, your context skills are just not trustworthy enough to bet your entire future on. A second set of eyes and ears will be a blessing.
Well, I do agree with you that things would be easier with an ally, and I don't really know why I trusted a system that I knew was unfair. I guess I thought that education was going to be an exception somehow, but no. I should learn from my mistakes.
People protest, though, for causes that make less sense to my mind than this, so it doesn't mean I'm going to ignore my complaint. Learning to communicate, regardless of how creative I have to be, though, is probably going to be part of the struggle.
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