Tag Archives: passing for normal

Goodbye face to face interviewer job

My face to face interviewer job ended last year. Rounding off the saga, I’d like to summarise what it was about, and speculate about why, overall, it worked well.

I was quite good at the job, and feel I’ve learned a lot, even though the work was quite repetitive. My boss was happy about my work and communication, and I had plenty of positive feedback from respondents both directly and through the quality control procedures. My response rates were also pretty good – not remarkable compared to the average, but good factoring in that my home range was supposedly hard to get decent results in. I was praised for the quality of my submitted work – data forms and weekly reports – for high accuracy, good order, and entertaining weekly reports.

 
Australian road from front window of car

 
The job ended because my employer had lost their tender for the project, so they had to close the whole project department down and sack everyone involved in the project… That’s all the interviewers, the office staff, and even my lovely boss.

If was a much bigger collapse for some of the other people, than it was for me. The staff turnover was notoriously low among both the office staff and the interviewer crew, and some had been working on the project for  well over a decade – almost since the beginning.

The organisation is the best employer I’ve had, and they handled the close-down well too. There was a proper explanation of what had happened (as much as they knew), scenario-thinking and instructions for what was and wasn’t allowed if moving to the competitor, and there was the usual supportive attitude underpinning the process. My boss also gave everybody her personal email and phone number, so future employers could still contact her for recommendations when she would no longer be working there.
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My Aspergers Journey

I’m at a sort of turning point in my life for the time being; where I finally really take ownership of asperger’s syndrome*. Like say “I have Asperger’s Syndrome” to my family, for example (so far the only example).

It may be a surprise that it is even a turning point. It is several years ago since I discovered aspergers syndrome and I have spent probably thousands of hours researching, watching videos and interacting online in relation to aspects of it, immersed in a sense-making process akin to what Cynthia outlines in her series “I Think I Might Be Autistic“*:

 

THE SENSEMAKING PROCESS

  1. Shift in identity – identification as aspie/autistic
  2. Retrospection – looking back at key life events in the context of this new identity
  3. Building narrative accounts – retelling the story of your life in light of AS/autism
  4. Sharing your narratives – strengthening and preserving your stories by sharing them with others
  5. Reflecting – the ongoing process of receiving feedback on your stories and reshaping them as your understanding of your narrative changes

From Developing a Sensemaking Narrative by Musings of an Aspie AKA Cynthia.

 
Cynthia’s list resonates well with me, but not in that order. In my case, step 1 is the last and hardest step. That is because “identification as aspie/autistic” is not just about what I am, it also represents a collective identity. The disadvantage of my extensive research of first hand accounts like blogs and forums is that I’m acutely aware that a lot of different people already own Aspergers/autism… define it and represent it. Continue reading

To Pass or Not to Pass…

This post is inspired by The Myth of Passing by Cynthia Kim, and The Lie of Social Skills Training by Jodie Van.

Because passing is a myth. So often what we’re doing when we’re passing is simply keeping a lid on our natural tendencies. And sometimes we’re not even doing it very well.

The Myth of Passing by Cynthia Kim of Musings of an Aspie

 

Cartoon blue pony with rainbow mane and tail walks a tightrope between cliffs
Image: “Tightrope Walk” by Orfearus

 
What does it mean to pass?

“Passing for normal” if you have a disability, means to mask your disability enough so that so called normal people don’t notice it. For example, if you are deaf but so skilled at lip-reading + hard working at getting by that people forget or don’t realise you are deaf, you’re passing.

They may instead think you are weird though, if they presume that you can hear what they can hear, and think you “ignore” information selectively or even worse, that you are playing social games with them.

Worst of all, if you tried to compete on equal terms in a hearing world as deaf you’d work hundred times harder than everyone else and still not or barely do as well as them on their terms. You’d be in a constant battle to try to piece together information from disorganised bits and hang on to the shared hearing-reality with your fingernails while your errors accumulated. And if you were to work that hard everyday to just try to meet basic expectations, you’d probably soon burn out.

With deafness, the problem is obvious and no one really expects a deaf person to compete with the hearing in a hearing world. No one expects a blind person to pretend to be able to see either.

With Aspergers/high functioning autism which is what Cynthia wrote about, the situation is complex, because many autistic adults are capable of appearing normal and social – to “pass as normal”, at least some of the time and in certain situations.

Jodie has in The Lie of Social Skills Trainin listed some of some key factors that make it difficult for aspies/autistics to socialise on normal terms:

  • sensory processing lag meaning you can’t process the conversation fast enough to keep up
  • trouble turning visual or abstract thoughts into words
  • literal-mindedness leading to misunderstandings
  • lack of executive function for keeping track of social engagements and who’s who
  • reduced amount of energy available for socialising, because so much is drained processing sensory input
  • not necessarily having the same pop-culture grounding as others, thanks to our often eccentric skills and areas of interest

Any one of those things could get in the way of socialising effectively, even for the most socially adept person. Most people on the spectrum have several of those things going on, and some of us have all of them.

The Lie of Social Skills Training by Jodie Van of Letters from Aspergia

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