It’s Official.

This also began as a wall post, but it should probably be longer and better-formatted, so now it’s a blog post as well. 🙂

I got officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome today, in addition to GAD and ADHD-NOS, as well as dysthymia, a term I’ve not even heard before. The description fits, though. My parents and I were pleased to see the evaluation noted I exhibit many fewer physiological signs of depression than I said I used to, probably because I now have a job and a girlfriend and (soon) a car.

I’m 21 and left college in December because I just cannot handle it, and I have no plans to go back. I was failing anyway, oops. But I get the impression I’m not all that different from lots of Aspies in that I may not be good in an academic environment, but my intelligence scores are well above average. I work as a computer repair technician and logistics/customer service kinda deal for a major retail chain, and have gotten nothing but praise and even thank-yous after only three months working here! It’s satisfying to have finally found something I’m good at, but goodness it’s stressful. I’m not about to invoke the ADA in getting them to exempt me from being customer-facing, since I’m technically not supposed to be anyway, but that’s not a big deal.

I’m just wondering about a lot of stuff, since despite having lived with AS all my life, I find I’m actually a little out-of-touch with the “Aspie experience,” or what you will.

I wonder where I’ll go from here. I don’t feel as though anything has changed, at all, since really nothing has changed, but I can’t help feeling like I’m somehow going to be treated differently from now on. Perhaps better. We’ll see.

Aspie McAsperger Goes to Work

What follows actually began as a comment on the Facebook page Asperger’s Awareness Community, but as you can see, quickly spiraled and rambled into, uh, this. So I wrote/talked too much. What else is new?

I work for Geek Squad, which is good because I am a computer technician and have been my last two or three jobs (one was a summer stint, dunno if you’d count that). I’ve never been fired or even really “written up,” but I have a bit of a tardiness problem. Pretty sure that’s traffic and not AS, though. But if it’s ok, I hope you have time for a little story…

I am extraordinarily lucky to have very understanding co-workers and a laid-back boss. All that matters is that customers are satisfied, profit is good (and exists), and we are following 100% of the rules. It’s a very structured and detail-oriented (but not unbearably strict) work environment, which I really like, and also happen to prefer.

But the only reason my co-workers even KNOW I have AS is because I had a complete emotional meltdown one day after a very rude woman said something to her wife with clear intentions of me hearing; essentially implying I didn’t know what I was doing because I’m an Aspie. For the record, they were demanding (not asking) that I do something we don’t actually do, so I said I can’t open up their computer without charging for labor. It took til I went back to the area customers don’t see and sat down for the panic to set in, and worst of all, my shift was only halfway over.

Instead of being confused or unsympathetic, my co-workers who noticed were actually very understanding, telling me their own retail horror stories and experiences that helped them be more thick-skinned. My boss is Jamaican, complete with long dreadlocks, and told me the Jamaican philosophy is “you can say whatever you want to me, but if you touch me, we got a problem.” He also told me about a girl who worked here years ago who was also very timid and easily upset at first, but is now in the Navy.

For the record, I’m pretty young; I’m actually only 20 (21 in a week!!) and my co-workers are all around 30 with one exception. My youngest co-worker is my age and also happens to be a friend of mine I knew before I worked here. His best friend is an Aspie, so he not only knows all about it but also can tell me what to avoid here!

Now everybody is very sensitive to my triggers. I hope it doesn’t get to be too much, since I’m actually pretty bold and daring sometimes. For instance, I have no problem whatsoever dealing with customers who are polite and respectful. Problem is we don’t get many of those. Your guess is as good as mine.

Normally, I’m in the back hiding from customers! Not really, though…I do shipping and logistical stuff, and also call and/or e-mail people when their device(s) are fixed in-store or come back from the service center. Oh and I work on Macs and whatever other computers are back there. I’m technically a “dual-zone agent”. Luckily, shipping is a great thing for someone like me. It’s predictable, it’s repetitive in just the right way, and it’s satisfying because it’s important and I know I’m making things run more smoothly. If our turnaround time goes down, then our district manager is happy and Corporate is happy, which makes us happy because we stop being told our numbers “aren’t bad, really, but they could be better.”

I dropped out of college because I couldn’t handle it in any way, social or academic and anything in between. I was terrified I’d be unemployable because of EVERYTHING wrong with me (did I mention speech impediment, stutter, extreme anxiety and panic disorder, clinical depression, and ADHD? oops now I did) but it turns out I just need to do something I enjoy without having to deal with people, ideally ever.

I actually was (and most of the time, am) terrified of phones ringing. I’m not sure if it’s the prospect of having to talk to people, or if it’s literally the sound itself, but I really don’t like it. I jump and/or flinch and my heart skips a beat and I totally lose focus on whatever I was doing. Not good. Lately I’ve been getting better, though. I can call people with almost no issues now! I still stutter, probably, and I’m terrible at answering questions quickly and confidently, but then again I’m not particularly good at doing anything confidently…

I do shipping, I do logistics, I take preventative measures to help stop the store from losing money (I’ve saved us about $1000 in expenses thus far, but it’s hard to describe how and why because unless you work for Best Buy you might not get it) and I call people. I also do data backups, fix Macs, and work on the units in for software repair (virus removals and the like). Basically anything that goes on in the back, I cover! I’m obviously not the only one (though this weekend I was!) but I am technically THE shipping/receiving person and lately have gotten very efficient and expedient! Oh also, as an Aspie I have a great head for numbers (explains the consistent Fs in math, no?) and so remembering a service order number like 982302582…and three others simultaneously…is not hard. I can associate the number with the name of the person, I can pull out paperwork (or file it away) with ease, and I keep things super organized. My boss especially appreciates the organizing, since one of the first things he said to me on my first day of work was “I’m really OCD.” Or “I’m really anal.” Seriously. All the boxes have to be stacked a certain way, with the tape lined up just so, and they must be stacked perfectly, one on top of another. And the stapler should always be right HERE and the phone must be HERE and so on and so forth. I know his meticulous organization seems excessive to some people, but it’s totally normal to me! XD

If I can’t find the damn packing tape, it irks me…it’s like people stealing my stuff…except not really, but kind of actually though.

But I can’t deal with customers. Oh goodness no. Please, anything but customer service.

The only way my job could be better is if I had my very own office with a door I could close (but not lock, because that’s kind of rude) and a phone that could make outgoing calls ONLY (is there such a thing?!) but that’s not happening because it’s a silly idea and Best Buy isn’t quite laid out like that…nice thought though…