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Aspie Miss

Why Aspies Need Space After Work and School

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Why Aspies Need Space After Work and School

Imagine you’re working abroad. You have some language skills but you’re by no means fluent. You can get on with your daily job but every conversation is fraught with difficulties, misunderstood phrases and confusing body language. By the time you get home, you’re exhausted and quite ready to relax in piece and quiet without confusing conversations.

Now imagine that no matter how long you stay in the country, your language skills don’t improve.  You spend every day as a beginner, grasping enough odd words and phrases to survive but never fully understanding what is going on around you.

This is exactly what many people with ASD or Aspergers go through every day.

School and work can leave them physically and emotionally exhausted and practically crawling home to relax. Most crave peace and quiet away from busy offices and crowded corridors.

Unfortunately, that’s not what normally happens.

It’s questions.

Well-meaning, well-intentioned questions, but questions none-the-less.

I get it.  You want to make sure that your loved one has had a good day.  That there were no disasters. No melt-downs. No mean comments that left your child in tears. No misunderstandings when your partner chatted to a colleague.

I totally understand why you ask questions.

But I also know that many parents worry about the melt-down that appears to happen as soon as the child gets in the car. Or the parent that is concerned when their child won’t answer any questions when they’re collected.

As an Aspie woman I can see why people with autism struggle. The day is finally over and they’re so excited to get home to indulge in their latest hobby or interest. Where it’s quiet and calm and routine-orientated. With people who love you, just the way you are….

Instead you get in the car and you’re hit with a whole host of confusing questions.

How was your day?

‘My day? It wasn’t my day, surely it is everyone’s day? Hang on the suns still out so the days not finished so how can I answer?

Did you have a good day?

What’s a good day? I went to minecraft club and that was good. But then I got sent out of French so that’s not good. What does ‘good’ mean exactly?

What did you do today?

‘ I went to work.  She’s just picked me up so why is she asking what I’ve done? I can’t remember what I’ve done. Did I do something wrong?’

I’m not suggesting for a minute that you shouldn’t ask questions. Only that you may get better answers if you try some of these ideas:

Chill-out Time

Firstly, allow the person with autism some chill-out time.  I would say at least an hour in a calm, familiar environment, possibly indulging in their favourite activity. After they’ve relaxed, then ask them about their day. But remember the next tip!

Focused questions

Make sure your questions are focused and factual. Look at your child’s timetable.  If they have PE, ask what sport they did that day, or if they have History, what era are they studying?  Many school websites publish their curriculum themes for each year group and subject.  This is especially useful if your child is in secondary school and you don’t get to speak to a class teacher as you may have done when they were in primary school.

Instead of asking your partner, ‘What did you do at work?’, be more specific.  ‘What was the first thing you did in work?  What was the last thing that you did in work? Did you speak to xxxxx today?’

You could also arrange questions in advance. Prepare in the morning by telling them what you’d like to know about their day.  Who did they sit with at lunch? What book did they read in English? For those who may struggle to remember, give them the questions on a card to refer to each day.

Make it routine

Routine helps anyone with ASD cope with the amount of uncertainty they encounter in the rest of the world. If you want insight into your loved ones day, put it in the routine as early as possible. Agree questions over breakfast, ask them when you sit down to dinner.

Some things will never change

Many forget that children with autism, become adults with autism.

I was only diagnosed with Aspergers as an adult and it’s only in the past 3-4 years that I’ve been able to identify some of the reasons why I need to spend time in a quiet, calm environment after work.

Yes, need.

I need to spend time in a quieter environment at the end of each day to recover from the attack on my sensory system. In a place where the lights are dimmer, the temperature warmer and where I can control how loud I want the TV.

Trying to communicate acceptably each day ( which I think I manage about 90% of the time – go me!) wears me out physically.  Not in a ‘ooh isn’t it nice to sit down after work’ way but in a ‘if I don’t sit down soon I’m likely to fall down’ way due to exhaustion. Most nights I end up falling asleep as soon as I enter the house.

This can make it hard to socialise. Monday – Thursday is out of the picture for all but the most important of events. Saturday night is good, but if I over-do it, I may find I’m still exhausted Monday morning when I return to work. As I’ve become older the ways I socialise with friends has changed. More afternoon teas and meals out rather than a night out clubbing. These are easier to manage but still quite tiring.

This is something I don’t think will change any time soon and so the best way is to manage it. Take my time during the day, don’t plan too much socialising at the same time and remember that once I get home I can indulge in my latest interest until my hearts content!

Speak soon

Miss
xxx

 

H

35 Comments

  1. Doug Lawrie

    This is wonderful insight. This answers SO many questions. Thank you. My wife and I BOTH read this and are going to immediately implement some of your strategies. In fact I sent my wife a text and said “this article is #$%>ing awesome!” to which she wrote “i know!!!!!”

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      I’m really pleased you found it so useful!

      Reply
  2. Tamara

    Thank you so much,I love this! I’m sitting in the car right now waiting for my kids to come out. I have 9 year old twins both ASD. My Aspie son asks me first thing when he gets on the car “how was your day mom?” He doesn’t require an answer he just thinks that’s what you ask when you get in the car, because that’s what I always use to ask.
    He talks about his day right before bed when everything is done and he can go back and reflect on the day.

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      I’m really glad you found it so helpful 🙂

      Reply
      1. Susana

        Hi. My 4 year old was diagnosed with aspie at 2. I always read about people that was diagnosed only when adults and I wonder, I have so much work with my daughter, she has speech and occupational therapy and even like that I work with her and worry all the time. I wonder how it was to be raised without any special push, how did you manage to succeed even without anyone knowing how you need to learn. Thanks for the text i loved it. The thing I would like most would be to be inside my daughters head at least one day so I could know how to help her better than I do!!!!! I really wish….

        Reply
        1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

          Hi, I’m so pleased that your daughter is getting the input she needs at such a young age as research does show the earlier the better.
          As a child I didn’t have any language delay and the fact I had an advanced vocabulary was put down to the fact that I read. A lot. For most of my childhood this was my interest. I didn’t want to play outside, just to read. As I was quiet and content in a corner with a stack of books it wasn’t really easy to spot that I had difficulties. That said I was bullied throughout primary and secondary school and only had a small group of friends.
          As a teacher, I do wonder if things would have been different if it had been spotted. I found exams difficult due to the hall sitting in a room with 99 other pupils and all the irritating noises that I could hear.
          However, I made it through university and now work full-time, I’m in a happy relationship and my life is good. There were lots of challenges along the way, but I got through them. Miss x

          Reply
  3. Teri

    You said you were diagnosed as an adult. What kind of professional did you see for a diagnosis? I think my son would benefit from this.

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      Hi! I saw my GP and then was referred to mental health services where it was decided I needed to be assessed. Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
  4. Jen

    This has helped me think abut things differently – all my 9 yr old son wants to do when he gets home is play on video games (to be fair, it’s what he wants to do most of the time) and gets really frustrated when I tell him to wait until after dinner and to spend time with us telling us about his day, or doing other things beside gaming. His excessive gaming is an issue so we limit it to after he’s done other things (homework etc) which often leads to meltdown. I’ll try letting him game first for an hour and then encourage the other things…thanks!

    Reply
  5. Angharad Davies

    Completely agree! I also have Aspergers Syndrome and find I need my space to play video games, watch my favourite TV programme wrapped up in a blanket or a power nap after work. Thankfully though I work from home 2 days a week and in the office 3 days a weeks which helps a great deal.
    Thank you for sharing and showing that us aspies are not alone.

    Reply
  6. Danni

    There have been so many moments when I have cringed at the memory of unwittingly causing my Autistic boy to feel stressed and confused with questions or demands, so many aspects of Autism and it’s sister disorders – like Sensory Processing Disorder – that I wasn’t aware of and I feel so bad for not understanding more fully, sooner.
    So, thank you. For educating us, for sharing with us insights that our kids cannot.
    Keep up the good work, Miss! x

    Reply
  7. autismjungle

    “Now imagine that no matter how long you stay in the country, your language skills don’t improve.”
    Well, they do improve, just not to the level of neurotypicals.

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      I agree they do improve, the reason I phrased it in that way was to try and help neurotypicals understand why communication is so difficult. Thank you for your comment 🙂

      Reply
  8. Pingback: ¿Por qué los individuos diagnosticados con Espectro Autista necesitan espacio después del trabajo y la escuela? – AsperBúho – Paso 1: Piensa lo que quieres decir. Paso 2: Dilo. "Como Hablar Con Personas"

  9. hdlmatchette

    I’m an aspie who works at a fabric store and even though I like it a lot, I still feel the same things that you describe here, in part because I have to get up so early in the morning to go to work.

    Reply
  10. LK

    Thank you so much. a really compassionate analysis from both perspectives. I hope you are going to write a book for parents of Aspies. My year old recently announced to me that he doesnt want to talk about his days. I have been struggling with how to connect and also respect his needs. Your advice is perfect. Keep going please! One more question if I might – my son insists on correcting my pronunciation and this is tricky because I have a different accent than him. He also insists that I call things by their proper name i.e. it is a “snack box” not a lunch box. I try to tell him to give people some slack and let it go but he insists. My sense is that it would be good for him to know that people do not like to be corrected and to encourage him not to do that – what are your thoughts? Again thank you!

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      Hi

      Thank you for your lovely comment. Have you thought of using a social story to explain that people who come from different places have different accents? Within this you could talk about a few key examples of differences in pronunciations and also the fact that when people pronounce things differently that it doesn’t mean they wrong, just different and that’s okay. You could tie in the fact that different people around the world speak different languages as well. Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
  11. HaSi

    As an ASD girl who’s very chaotic when exhausted, I always feel the need to blurt out the things that kept my mind busy before it’s stuck in there for the rest of the day, even when it doesn’t make much sense to my boyfriend. No questions asked, just an infodump.
    Fortunately, my working place accommodates me perfectly with a schedule where I alternate between a day of work and a day off. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Neil

      Blurting out things is a true aspie trait, it’s having awareness of how you are saying it something we have to learn. The delivery of our bluntness could either come across as hurtful or demanding.

      Reply
  12. Linda

    I was diagnosed with Aspbergers a couple of years ago at the age of 52. I have found out I am also an Empath. To me these two coincide with each other. I pickup everybody’s emotions that I come in contact with. I have learned techniques through reading books on Empath to help me. I still need my quiet time and my own space to rejuvenate. It’s still a learning experience everyday but I have been able to calm the anxiety and am less tired. I don’t have the melt downs like I used to either.

    Reply
  13. Neil

    I have also been diagnosed with Aspergers, as recently as 2015. I understand everything you have written.
    Being 40 and a casual labourer wearing a mask is probably the best tool I can suggest when dealing with multiple people all at the same time. This is very exhausting and I usually zone out at home by either watching a movie or sitting in silence reading something of interest. Every aspie needs a sounding board and a “time out”, this will never change.

    Reply
  14. John

    Oh God yes. A million times yes. I am diagnosed with Asperger’s and find that I need one, maybe two hours after work to just recuperate. Working in a coffee shop dealing with many people is, like you say, mentally draining. The sad thing is, my father, of whom knows I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, still gets mad when I answer his vague questions, with my vague answers. I was kind of lucky, though, being diagnosed pretty early, like, before I was 5, I think? But yeah, thank you for this article!

    Reply
  15. Candice Cochegrus

    Have you heard of The Son-Rise Program?! It sounds exactly like the answer you need 😀 I encourage loved ones to read “Autism Breakthrough” by Raun Kaufman. It has helped our family tremendously!

    Reply
  16. Kim

    I have a work colleague who always asks me what I’m doing at the weekend or what I did at the weekend. He also has a habit of saying ‘what do you know?’
    I just don’t understand him or what answer to give

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      Hi! Is he diagnosed with autism? If so it could be that he has just learnt some basic conversation skills and isn’t sure how to continue or that perhaps just asking the one question is enough of a conversation. Just keep it light if you are unsure of what to say and remember it may be quite an effort for him to start a conversation so try to be encouraging. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  17. Corli

    Hi. I am also a Aspie mother to 3 kids, of which the oldest one is also an Aspie. When I pick them up from school I have a rule that only the one infront (they have turns every day) gets to go first about their day… otherwise I get overwhelmed. My Aspie son usually just says it was good and I’m happy with that. I feel I fail as a parent in so many areas cause after they get home or I had to visit with friends, I just need to go and sit in my room where its quiet. My 7 year old daughter who loves socialising always complains that I don’t chat with her enough. Its very hard trying to go about life and stay sain most of the time. My husband have been frustrated that I always go to my room as soon as we step into the front door or after we had guests over. I also find I’m getting worse. Its even exhausting just going to the shop to pick up bread and milk.

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      Hi, I’m so sorry to hear how much your struggling. I find most days tiring and I don’t have children. It must be really difficult. Would it be useful to try and schedule in time with your daughter alone perhaps once a week? You could then schedule a break in afterwards to recover if you need it. Just remember to make time for you and try to relax where possible. You need the breaks so you can be the best Mum you can be. Take Care x

      Reply
  18. Lorraine

    Thanks for the insights. And my 21-year-old son on the spectrum thanks you, too!

    Reply
  19. Andrew Hardwick

    Maybe I’m just a cranky old Aspie, at 68, but small talk can really get me so annoyed, and I have to keep it all bottled up. I have two granddaughters similarly disposed. I refuse to call it a disability, as it does make us think outside the square more easily than (so called) normal sheeple – er, sorry, people

    Reply
  20. sashiengland

    Thanks for your posting. It helps me to get through my work day knowing I can go home and indulge in my writing.

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      I’m glad it was useful!

      Reply
  21. Adrian Greenhalgh

    Hi I discovered I was an aspie at the age of 60. My two most successful coping startegies are walking with your partner ( You only have to handle verbal communication ) and Classical music concerts ( Quiet and no communications to process)

    A great site makes me laugh at myself.

    Reply
  22. Kirsty

    My son needs at least an hour of Kerbal Space Program game after school every day. I hope high school homework, he starts this year 7 this year, will still allow for this.

    Reply
  23. mb

    Thank you for this post, it describes my 5 year old aspie to a tee! We’re still trying to work out the best ways to support him at school. I worry about the long term impact this pressure may have on him. I wonder, do you think the positives of being within the school system outweigh the negatives for an aspie kid who can struggle?

    Reply
    1. Aspie Miss (Post author)

      Hi! It’s a really difficult question and I think that it depends on the needs of the child. I teach some children who are thriving in a mainstream setting with only occasional difficulties, but I also teach children who struggle massively with the sensory overload of being in a mainstream school who may cope better with a smaller setting. At the age of 5, I’d say it may be too early to tell, as they haven’t been within the system that long and so it may take a little while for them to get used to it. If they are still struggling in another year or two then I’d be looking to see what support could help, be that a 1-1 TA to ease the anxiety and explain what is going on around him or a move to a smaller setting. Hope this helps!

      Reply

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