I have struggled to fit in anywhere since I left school and I'm now 27. I have spent 90% of my time on my own when I have not been working and even at work I spent at least 75% of my breaks alone as it was enjoyable that way if I didn't make any friends. I have made some friends but they have fizzled out pretty fast and my school friends naturally drifted apart and we moved on.
I dropped out of college three times by the age of 19 mainly due to developing anxiety and not making any friends. I tried the military after this which didn't work either. The first time at 21 it was suspected I had dyslexia due to misunderstanding things and taking too long to learn them so I was given 18 months to find a coping mechanism to whatever it was and then reapply. I had a dyslexia screening which showed I likely didn't have dyslexia.
Shortly after leaving the Army I went to a GP as I suspected I may have autism since dyslexia seemed unlikely and dyspraxia didn't seem to the issue. I did a few meaningless tests in the surgery and told I was too bright to have autism which I voiced my unhappiness with. This meant that I wasn't able to receive the funds required to do a complete screening for all the learning difficulties. Being over 16 the cost required is quite substantial which I couldn't afford myself. I tried the Army 2.5 years later and left mainly for an unrelated reason but I struggled fitting in even worse than the first time, partly because I was 3 years older and being on the older end of recruits I couldn't get away with being doing immature things. One of the other recruits labelled me as autistic which was more playful than malicious but looking back he or likely others picked up on something.
After just turning 25 I tried a landscaping apprenticeship. I enjoyed the work, but soon realised I wasn't fitting in and decided to get the qualifications I needed to pursue a degree while continuing with the apprenticeship until then. I didn't fit in this environment at all. I ended up being made redundant which was basically just being sacked without having a legit reason. I found somewhere to continue the apprenticeship but this was just as bad, or slightly worse. I saw it going down the same route and I felt miserable so I resigned. It was during this time and about a month after I started working for the company that my boss suggested I may have autism as he saw things in me that minded me of his son who was much younger than me. I listened to his advice and went to see a GP again, a different surgery in a completely different area of the UK. I went to the appointment and filled out a questionnaire that they printed off the internet. They said they won't recommend me for an autism screening because I answered to them that it isn't affecting my everyday life which I regret. I kind of didn't want to admit that it was and I didn't process the question fully when I answered it. After this I said to myself that autism is just a label and that I probably just have bad social skills and I am slightly more different than others so I gave up on it.
At this point I am 26 and ready for university. Over the last year I have worked many temporary jobs just to get by. I have struggled at just about every single one. The only one I did well at was because I worked on my own and the manager was just happy that I was reliable, friendly and worked hard. He even asked for me again almost eight months later which I wasn't expecting at all. I quit about five other jobs because I felt mistreated or I didn't like the environment. The rest of them were either no more than a week or they 'didn't need me anymore'. For the last 6 weeks I haven't worked due to being burned out, university around the corner and my 6 month old bicycle which is my main method of transport failing me twice. I have just survived on what savings I have and spent most of my time at home. I do have some family I keep in contact with but due to distance and money (it used to be time). I haven't even seen them.
Now I am not too long away from a new chapter in my life but I know I am going to have to deal with more rejection and not fitting in. Getting bad vibes from people and you aren't sure why, you know you haven't said anything rude to them or anyone else. I would have believed a few years ago that this will be different and stayed positive in a delusional sort of way. It's painful to know you that you aren't going to be accepted going ahead which doesn't help with my anxiety in social situations as much as I try and have tried. I woke up earlier than I usually do this morning and found myself reflecting on the last ten years.
Thanks if you read any part of that.
It is an unfortunate fact that many GPs are clueless when it comes to autism. To suggest that you are too intelligent to be autistic is as incompetent as it is deplorable.
I suggest you take the online ASQ test, this will give you a rough idea of whether it is worth pursuing a diagnosis. If the results show that you may be autistic, print them out and take them to the GP with you. Before you go to the GP write down everything that you want to say. This way the stress of the consultation won’t mean you leave out some of the things you want to say. Alternatively, send the GP an email listing your difficulties in a succinct, to the point way addressing your concerns. Take a copy with you.
The cost of a diagnosis is not your fault nor a reason to be denied one.
All the best, Graham.
Your history sounds very familiar. The big question I have is about school. How did you fit in and have friends?
For most of us and certainly me, fitting in and making friends was a nightmare from infancy, throughout our school life and beyond.
If I was in your shoes I'd write down what I wanted the GP to know, e.g the significant ways it is effecting your life, and then give them the piece of paper to read at the appointment. That way you can ensure you are getting across everything you want to say. It sounds like your local NHS service won't accept referrals unless your symptoms impact you severely so you need to ensure this is now made clear.
If you're thinking about applying for university some institutions will pay for a diagnostic assessment for you and their referral process is a lot faster than the NHS. If you contact the institutions your interested in applying for they'll be able to let you know if they provide this support.
NAS63880 said:It's painful to know you that you aren't going to be accepted going ahead which doesn't help with my anxiety in social situations as much
If you approach life with this attitude, it is likely that this is what you will look for in the interactions you have so it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although there are lots of people who aren't accepting of the autistic neurotype, especially our open and honest nature, there are plenty who do. I have a number of close and fulfilling relationships and you could too.
Thanks for your response. I'm glad to see it hasn't gone unseen.
I would say I never truly fit in at school and I had a friend group by being mischievous, enjoying sports and making my friends laugh which sometimes was unintentional. I couldn't just walk up to other kids and introduce myself, it just happened. It didn't become a problem until I was 16 and it went downhill from there. Every once in a while I find someone who likes me for who I am or at least appear to but they haven't manifested into long friendships unfortunately.
Did you know you've always been on the autism spectrum and has making friendships got easier over time?
Making friends is never easy.
It's more like finding people accidently that tolerate me and I can tolerate their company.
Thanks very much for your reply, it's going to be very helpful. I did a autism test approximately a year ago and believe I the feedback was that I had a high likelihood of having Asperger's. I guess when I try it again I will get similar/the same results. Thanks again Graham!!
That sounds a lot like me. It's just that I'm never been very good with small talk and I don't gossip at all.
Thanks for your response. I am going to register with a new GP soon as I'm moving across the country again. Hopefully, this will go in my favour. That is a great idea about writing about the difficulties I have faced over the years. I am prone to forgetting certain things I would have wanted to say. I fully intend to do that and will do this today.
That is great to know. I will be at university in no more than a week and will look into this.
It hasn't held you back which is brilliant. Rejection is pretty painful and apparently triggers the same responses in the body as physical pain. I guess it's not the best to adopt a pessimistic attitude.
I love your persistence - a very good quality ---- Try and get to university I think you will do well there. Many aspies there. You were in the army as well so well done there not every can survive in the army. Have you looked at your local TA branch. The TA is bit more relaxed. I recommend the royal logistics corps (RLC) and the Pay Corps if u like numbers.
Thanks for the kind comment Aidie. I dread to think where I would be now without being persistent. I definitely have some interest in the Reserves. Training was one of the best times of my life.