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Sudden "Improvement"

Posted Jul 31 2009 11:54am
Odd how little things make it seem like you have suddenly become less autistic...

Getting my driver's license last January really seems to increase my "functioning level" to the casual observer. And it makes me look even less disabled that I have been working for five weeks now, with accommodations and a job pretty much tailor-made for me... five weeks is shorter than the burnout time of the better jobs I've had before but I might not burn out this time. If the summer ends before I go nuts, I can call it a success!

I think there's another dimension here, though; sometimes when you put out a lot of effort, you can do more than you normally would, at the expense of extreme stress levels. The problem with that is that you can't keep it up forever. You end up simply unable to do one more day, possibly depressed, possibly physically ill, possibly shut down or even unable to properly care for yourself. That's just what you can do in an emergency; it's not your long-term capacity. Problem is, a lot of us are being forced into emergency mode long-term, anyway, by people who saw us manage things like that short-term and assume that means that if we aren't doing it, we are merely lazy... sometimes, those people are ourselves, which makes it even worse...

For example, I imagine many of us can handle twenty minutes at a party, but would burn out if forced to go four hours; or could handle a shift at a fast-food restaurant, but not a week or a month. NTs seem to assume that if you can do it for a little while, you can do it forever, but that's kind of like assuming that if you can run a block, you can run a marathon.

Apparently, it is "amazing" that someone who a year ago was unable to drive or hold down a steady job has now suddenly become capable of driving (on familiar roads, with a map nearby) and working (with accommodations)... The superficial improvements in my skill levels seem to bump me immediately from moderate to mild disability; but really, I don't think I have changed very much at all--simply found ways to do those things that were easier for me than the NT ways!

Kinda scary, though; it makes me worried that people will think I am doing so well, so I don't need help; and consequently they will remove the things that let me do well in the first place. I've heard of it happening to kids in school all the time, and I really don't want it to happen to me. And I really hope I am not going into emergency mode here, because if I do, it means I can't keep it up, and I would dearly love to.
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