As can often happen in work, or in life, things can change overnight. I am not thinking about the massive life changing events, such as the death of a parent, partner or child. Instead I am thinking about the changes that occur in work. One day you are doing what you know and then those in power above you. They decide that instead of doing task a, you will now be doing task b. And it is how you react to these changes that can be seen as an indicator to how you deal with change.
One of the symptoms of Autism is the need to live and work to a strict routine. There is a certain comfort in knowing where you are meant to be and what you are meant to be doing when you are there. It is a definite benefit of working in schools is that every minute of the day is dictated but within that you have a certain freedom of autonomy. You can change plans but you cannot change classes. When the classes change all of your plans change and it can throw you off for a little while.
In office jobs, especially ones revolving around finance, your work life is based on routine. You perform certain tasks on particular days of the month. You run reports on the first week, pay commission on the second and so on. Direct Debits are run on the first or second working day and payments are chased in order. For a person with autism this can be a blessing. You do this, then and that, here. However, I struggled with it due to boredom. Which is something I have talked about before. This boredom may have been generated from the routine or the perceived mundane nature of the work. That I think, may not be the whole truth to it. The routine is good but if I am “wired differently” then I cannot focus unless I am fully engaged. One of the questions on one of the questionnaires that I have done was: “do you make small mistakes when doing boring or repetitive tasks?” and the answer to that was, yes. I miss details because they all look the same. For a “normal” person they can spot that they have done certain parts of the procedure but my mind wanders and I miss things. This could be autism, or it could just be plain, simple carelessness.
Anyway, back to what I was saying, I was told that my classes would change. I saw this as a reflection of my ability and a reflection of me. I could not see that it was part of a school wide change. It felt punitive and whether it was my ego or something else I am unsure. When it was explained to me the what and the why it made sense. I was too focused on my own self and previous bad experiences to ask for reassurance or to see it as what it was. This is a fault solely of my own making and one that I have learnt from. When it happened at another school, I asked for the clarification and my Head of Department was fine with explaining it. This inability to see the wider implications of other people’s decisions and to be able to think about why they may be making this decision is definitely a negative aspect of my mental make-up. And, of course, there is a “fragile male ego” element to it. How could it be otherwise? I am focusing on my failure and how it makes me look. Not what is best for the institution or best for the students or what strengths I have or what strengths other educators may have. It was, why are they taking my classes from me?
This is an element of the supposed autism, as well as the almost desperate need to have it confirmed or not, that I need to work on. I need to be able to take a step back from the self (he says in a blog wholly dedicated to the self) and see everything or even having the courage and the gumption to ask. It is like climbing a mountain on a beautifully clear day and instead of seeing for miles and miles either direction you stare at the state of your walking boots.