Dead tired

Dead tired after a 2.7 hours work day (interviews, admin and driving)… That is not a typo. And the day followed a good night’s 14 hours of sleep*. I hope I’ll be able to improve my stamina a bit.

 

Untitled

 
The research interviewer role is a hyper flexible part time work. The flexibility means, primarily, that the interviewer has to work around the respondents schedules and be willing to work whenever it suits respondents – any time and day.

Interviewers do have a fair bit of freedom to decide suitable days and times of day to recruit households and conduct the short interviews. The employer expects to see variety in the times of day for the visits to maximise the chance of catching all respondents at home, but apart from that the scheduling is open.

I work a few hours per day on most days of the week, locally, and I guess that is a nice soft way to get used to work regularly again. A few hours in a row; flexible; independent; no workplace politics. Although, soft start or not, coming home feels post-marathon like**.

 
After the first week

Today I undertook my second set of long interviews, where I interviewed all members of a family. The first set took place few days ago. Each involved interviews with a set of parents and a bunch of kids***.

It went fine, overall. I navigated steady-handed through the long winded, labyrinthic interview forms and talked clearly, slowly, articulate, service-minded. Some answers weren’t ‘in the textbook’ and hard to categorise, but it turned out OK (I hope).

I did make a few mistakes that required follow-up and correction (which is: didn’t pick up on contradicting details straight away). However, I don’t think the employer expects total perfection from beginner interviewers. I talked with my supervisor, and she is happy with the progress.

While I am very happy that it seems I can handle the job, it is not enough work to make ends meet. It is still important to look for additional work/projects to fit in around it. For the time being, there doesn’t seem to be sufficient energy left after visiting respondents to undertake any additional serious work activity.

 

 

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* In case you wonder: I don’t normally sleep that much, only when recovering from something

** I think. I have never actually been running a marathon, although I have been running long distances on my own

*** Reason for vagueness with details: it would be inappropriate to publish any details that could in any way be used to identity anything about any respondents and/or the survey.

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22 thoughts on “Dead tired

  1. gavinpandion

    You know, even neurotypicals find customer service relatively exhausting compared to socializing, so the job you’re doing now is to neurotypicals what normal social interaction is to aspies, so to speak. Hang in there, hope it gets easier with practice. I’m impressed that you landed a job conducting face to face interviews, it’s not a type of work that would come easily to anyone on the spectrum.

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    1. Mados

      Thanks for your response:-)

      Actually, I find customer service a lot easier than normal social interaction (depending with whom, of course), because it provides a clearly defined social identity, a purpose and a clear communication script (mostly).

      This job is even more scripted than most customer service jobs. I might as well have been an android: I just need to follow the correct path through the interview forms (the path depends on the answers), read up the questions in a polite and clear manner, categorise the answers correctly and clarify questions and answers when necessary.

      What’s most draining is…
      1. Distractions, noisy kids
      2. Pay attention to respondents’ non-verbal cues and try to address concerns (do they feel invaded? Are they embarrassed about any answers ~ would they bias their replies, so do I need to apply reassurances and make them feel less bad about something?)
      3. Be in strangers’ private homes… pretty weird, given I rarely visit even people I know in their homes
      4. Try to pick up contradictions between respondents answers, categorise answers correctly and remember all the rules and definitions while keeping up the communication line with the respondents. Remember to ask every relevant question.
      5. Try to make a good, professional impression on behalf of the employer

      Actually, it is quite hard… now when I write it down… and interesting. No wonder it is tiring.

      As for being on the spectrum, I don’t know if I am on the spectrum. Maybe, or maybe somewhere in between, I don’t really feel I belong in any category. I find the whole neurotypical vs aspie lingo confusing, I don’t really know how to define what is normal and what isn’t. (except for some things, of course)

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    2. Mados

      Uhm… Long answer. I’m a bit prone to those, sorry… I couldn’t say it shorter. Thanks for your attention span if you went all the way through it.

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  2. Heather Holbrook

    2.7 hours of interviewing would be draining! I just got done with a 3 hour social/business meeting, and now feel wound up, but not able to interact with anyone or do any work, either, so sure understand!

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    1. Mados

      Thank you for your understanding. Actually it wasn’t 2.7 hours interviewing straight… About 1 hours of interviewing (surrounded by noisy kids) and the rest admin and driving.

      3 hours of social/business meeting would be draining! Have a good recovery time (if that is possible:-)

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      1. A Quiet Week

        I agree with Heather. Interviews, even with structure, would hold enough social navigation and attendance to seriously freak me out. And kids in the background, yikes.

        You are doing well. I am certain that your new employers will be understanding. I know that I tend to expect far more from myself than any school, workplace, or person.

        Yay you!

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        1. Mados

          Thank you for the encouragement!

          Yes I wasn’t quite prepared for how distracting people are and how noisy small kids are, roaming around… that is the hardest part of the interviews. I think I am good with the codes and logic, talking and explaining, but when people interrupt, ask out-of-context questions and try to skip ahead e.t.c… then it gets hard to hold on to that specific path of navigation and its logic/scenario. I just returned my first finalised work set with a fair bit of corrections. My supervisor said that is OK… as long as it is corrected and doesn’t come back with mistakes.

          My new employer is very understanding… which is good. I need that:-)

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  3. gavinpandion

    See, you are doing well! I don’t know for sure whether I’m on the spectrum or not, but I’ve found reading about autism and aspergers and concepts like theory of mind helpful, I seem to have at least some things in common and I’m trying to work on those areas.

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      1. gavinpandion

        Actually, it’s not at all unusual. If you go to an on-line community for aspies and the like (WrongPlanet is probably the largest) you will find many who are questioning, many who are undiagnosed, some seeking diagnosis and others not, just exchanging information about their experiences and resources they’ve found. You can also find people like us on wordpress if you do topic searches for recent entries on aspergers, social skills (we all seem to be working on them), that sort of thing.

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        1. Mados

          Thanks. I know, actually. I have found a great deal of helpful information on Wrong Planet, other forums and on ‘aspie’ blogs (and follow the tags you mention in my WordPress feed, plus other related tags) plus articles online e.t.c.

          The aspect of it I’m not so interested in is the strong focus of having VS not having a diagnosis. The tension and tribal behaviour around the diagnosis question puts me off, and so does too much stereotyping of ‘neurotypicals’. I am also not so interested in blogs that focus 100% on autism and where autism is used to explain every trait and experience the person encounters.

          I’m not really certain I fully understand what it implies to be neurotypical/normal anyway. Nobody seem normal to me;-) I can point certain people out as being ‘definitely not normal’, but it is hard to point anyone out as being ‘definitely normal’. They may define themselves as normal, and others may define them as normal, but I can’t see why … I think everybody are pretty weird. (maybe I am simply the only normal person in the world!)

          Actually one of the very helpful aspects of reading about asperger/autism is to get some clearer definitions of normal/neurotypical behaviour – albeit indirectly. Theory of mind is also an extremely useful concept;-)

          I would like to read more about how people with mild ASD (but not too mild to be relevant) handle employment, how they work around their challenges in the workplace, how they cope with disappointing others’ expectations and find compromises and coping strategies, and if their special interest expertise gives interesting insights, then I would like to read about that.

          As for special interest: like your blog:-) I wasn’t interested in fandom but I am interested in sociology. Then I read your blog and found it entertaining and intelligent, and fandom becomes interesting as an aspect of sociology.

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  4. gavinpandion

    Aww, thanks, I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. I have just enough social science literacy to do some tongue-in-cheek commentary from within fandom. I think formal research on fandom is cute. I suspect the researchers of being closet fans.

    I feel the same way about ‘neurotypical’ stereotypes being largely unhelpful, and complaints about neurotypicals being self-defeating, because there is no aspie planet and if there were one, we wouldn’t all get along. So why bother? I didn’t want my blog to be preoccupied with the idea that I might have autistic traits that show in day to day life. I’m starting to look for ways to broaden the social skills category beyond issues for people on the spectrum, because I’ve noticed there are other bloggers discussing social skills who aren’t at all autistic and still consider it worth working on, and have advice and experiences to share that I can relate to.

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    1. Mados

      I’m starting to look for ways to broaden the social skills category beyond issues for people on the spectrum, because I’ve noticed there are other bloggers discussing social skills who aren’t at all autistic and still consider it worth working on, and have advice and experiences to share that I can relate to.

      I like to read insightful observations about normal social interaction (well, almost any social interaction I guess) and human behaviour overall (and animal behaviour and evolution and prehistory and speculations about the future, but then we’re getting off-topic:-) so if you know some good websites in that relation then you are most welcome to put links to them here!

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    2. Mados

      I didn’t want my blog to be preoccupied with the idea that I might have autistic traits that show in day to day life.

      Me neither. I am actually seeing a psychologist who specialises in ASD to help clarify my situation. Not so much in a ‘label’ sense of way but to map & organise all the problematic aspects of my life and find a sustainable employment direction. He is exceptionally good, and I feel very well understood and accepted… It is a great relief to meet understanding and organisation actually, and although it has been just a few sessions so far (4), it makes a real positive difference. The part time job is also a nice step forward, very encouraging.

      He did a questionnaire test with me in the beginning which is ‘the’ one for diagnosing aspergers in adults in Australia and the result was over the threshold (that’s not a diagnosis, just an indication). I asked him to give his professional opinion later after he gets to know me well. So I don’t know what his professional opinion is overall, but there is no doubt that AS is part of the underlying framework helping with the understanding, which is what I wanted. I guess this somewhat explains my relation to/take on AS.

      Ps. Maybe this is too much exposure online (although my blog is anonymous)… not sure. Anyway, since you are having the thoughts you mention I thought it might be helpful to share this experience… that talking to a professional can be very helpful, and diagnosis doesn’t need to be the primary objective, the person’s expertise / experience / understanding can be very helpful in any case. But of course it depends on expenses as well and which country you’re in. Here in Australia, the public Medicare system covers about 50% of the cost of seeing a psychologist (for 12 sessions) with a GP referral under a mental health care plan.

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    3. Mados

      there is no aspie planet and if there were one, we wouldn’t all get along.

      Maybe a planet per person would do? And then a stellar Internet connection for communication. 😉

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  5. gavinpandion

    Thanks for sharing your experience with working with a psychologist, sounds like a great approach but here in the U.S. it is supposed to be difficult to find a specialist who is interested in addressing adult AS issues in the previously undiagnosed. I read that in the UK they are also getting more open-minded about seeing adults who think they might be on the spectrum. Here most insurance doesn’t cover talk therapies, there aren’t many publicly funded services of that sort, and the autism experts are almost exclusively interested in early intervention. But I haven’t tried yet, at some point if I see an opportunity to work with a psychologist who is knowledgeable about mild AS in adults, I would be interested.

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    1. Mados

      It is my impression (from many sources) that the U.S. has the poorest healthcare system of any developed country… at least in terms of coverage. If you’re having issues that are covered and does entitle to seeing a psychologist … for example social anxiety or depression, if that’s covered… then you could use that as the primary focus and then make sure to be referred to a psychologist with ASD expertise.

      I never mentioned my (fluctuating) suspicion of ASD to my GP. I just found the clinic and gave him the name and address for the referral. He referred me for social anxiety (initially depression long time ago, long story). Actually I didn’t even mention AS to the psychologist initially. I focussed on explaining and just trusted that the clinical side of things is not up to me anyway but that the clinic’s specialisation would help the chance of meeting understanding for aspects like noise sensitivity, social challenges and weird youth history. and lessen the risk of being deemed nuts:-)

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  6. springingtiger

    Hang on in there kid! That’s the best advice I can give, oh and take time for your self to readjust, you can do this!

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