Asperger's Lockout: The Things I Can Never Have Due To Having AS

Remember the scene near the end of the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan when Wendy, John, Michael, and the Lost Boys were back home in London joyfully reuniting with their parents?

Remember when Peter was hovering outside the window watching that reunion, with the narrator talking about how he was seeing the one joy for which he must forever be barred?

As an adult male with Asperger's Syndrome and consequentially being rendered socially and emotionally disabled, I feel that describes me whenever I see someone in my age group (early 40s) with a family and a career, living in a nice ranch house and driving an SUV.

I don't wear tights or leaves or believe in fairies - sorry, Tinker Bell - and I definitely cannot fly when thinking happy thoughts or by any other methods, but I think I know how Peter felt looking through that window.

Believe me when I say that I tried to do everything that American society said I needed to do as an adult; I earned my degree from a good college, joined the workforce in my chosen field, which was education, and worked hard to achieve my goals - or so I felt.

That was why I was devastated when I ultimately failed in my quest to become a teacher and a coach, either getting fired or being forced to resign from nearly every job that I had in the profession.

I didn't realize until it was too late that my Asperger's manifested itself in the fact that I'm not very good with most people, and that I strongly dislike - if not all-out hate - being told what to do by those who I don't see as authority figures, like colleagues.

This was especially the case during the last few years I was teaching P.E., tutoring, coaching, and working as an after school counselor.

Having obtained much experience in the field through the years and expecting to be left alone to do my job, I was extremely offended every time someone who was not my supervisor tried to correct me, give me "suggestions", or tell me how I needed to do better at something after working my tail off.

I always thought, "Who the hell are you to talk to me that way?"

It wasn't until I quit my last education job after someone half my age tried to tell how to improve when I realized once and for all that my high functioning form of autism prevented me from ever working in a mainstream employment situation, a top-down hierarchy with everyone above you being your superior.

I should have known this was the case when in a six year span, I had no less than four nervous breakdowns. I found myself bitterly snapping at people, locking myself in my bedroom for three or four days, and suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.

Those nervous breakdowns always happened after co-workers and others would complain about me and tell me what I needed to work on after putting my heart and soul into whatever I was doing.

In their mind, they were giving me constructive criticism; I understand that.

In my mind, however, they were insulting me and letting me know that they thought I sucked.

To me, they were nothing but pompous enemies talking down to me and trying to bring me down.

Considering that I worked with young people in some form for roughly twenty years, that hurt. Particularly when the people criticizing me and trying to order me about were sometimes barely more than half my age. I couldn't help thinking that I could have coached or taught these folks at one time, and now they were trying to lord it over me?

It made me feel like they thought I was a stupid and retarded fool.

This conviction would no doubt be denied by those who I was involved in those issues with. Because of my having AS, however, my mind just could not conceive that they were trying to help.

My personal chemistry renders me as unable to interact with most individuals in a submissive manner, I totally get that now.

Because of my being an "aspie" - short for Asperger's - I realize that I am better off working independently; I'm at my best when left alone to do my work with as little interference as possible. Anything deviating from that causes anxiety, which leads to extreme unhappiness, depression, and nervous breakdowns.

I do not deserve any of that. No one does.

Interestingly enough, that still has not kept me from feeling left out of what is commonly known as the American Dream, even though I know that conforming to the image of the wife, the 2.5 kids, and going to a high rise office in a suit and tie would be like wearing a strait jacket for me.

And even though I know full well that my niche lies elsewhere and always has, that still hasn't kept me from feeling like a loser in life at times; I just can't help it.

I cannot help thinking that some people see me in my situation, living at home in my forties and being supported by my mother, and think that I'm an inept retard.

Asperger's, according to American standards, has robbed me of the social skills necessary to succeed in life. It has deprived me of the emotional capacity and ability to work with most people, especially in the area of taking criticism.

Some will say that I need to "grow up", "be a man", "take responsibility", humble myself and do whatever I need to do to be able to interact with folks in a way where I can experience success.

Unfortunately, with my disability that's impossible.

That is why I have been pursuing a career as a writer and a blogger these past couple of years; it's a profession that I have talent in - or so I've been told - and it is something where I can be left alone more than when I was in education and coaching kids.

I completely understand that God created some people to be able to take orders and scrutiny, to not mind that much someone in their face constantly telling them how they're falling short of their standards.

I also understand that I am not one of them.

And I suppose that's just the way it is.

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10 comments

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Dhart - how did you work for all those years with those people? If you managed that long, what happened to change the situation? Anyway, I hope that you find your place in the world. You have skills, talent, and worth. You just need to find someone who can see it. Good luck to you!


Dhart profile image

Dhart 6 years ago from Culver City, CA Author

@Dolores: I was able to work w/ kids for as long as I did because I knew what I was doing, was generally good w/kids, & was a strong leader; because of that, people were willing to give me a chance. I just couldn't adjust to new bosses & supervisors (an AS trait) - at one school I was at I had 4 principals in the 3 years I was there.

As far as what happened to change the situation, it was a combination of burnout, no longer wanting to work w/ kids w/ behavior problems,in which there were a lot of, and getting to the point of being set in my ways and having that clash with the places & people I was working at & with (another AS trait).

Thanks for the comments.


MiddleAgedAspy 6 years ago

Dhart - Some of what you say is a mirror image of my experience, however, I have the wife, and kids. Yet I have no future, as I can see.

I feel your pain and would like to discuss further.

What I don't understand is your feeling that you cannot connect in a submissive way. I am totally submissive, and it gets me abused by managers all the time.

I have had over 50 jobs in the last 30 years.

Right now I have a manager that treats me as a child and I have a MIS degree and he cannot comprehend the work I do for him.

Yet, my best work is when I work with some one in a team environment as equals.


Dhart profile image

Dhart 6 years ago from Culver City, CA Author

@ MiddleAgedAspy: 50 jobs in the last 30 years - I feel your pain there, too. As well as the fact that you manager treats you like dirt.

I'm wondering if you talked to your manager about how you feel, that you have AS, you feel that he's treating you badly, and that he needs to understand and be more sensitive to you and your condition.

If I were you, I'd have a sit-down with him and lay it all down on the table, let him know about your AS and how you feel he treat you like crap. If nothing else, it will let him know how you feel; hope it works out for you.


Oscar Anthony 6 years ago

I feel your pain! I too have A.S. and have experienced all of these put-downs. Because of this, I always feel the need to get away from people, escape reality, and just daydream about what my life should've been like.


Dhart profile image

Dhart 6 years ago from Culver City, CA Author

@ Oscar Anthony: I've done the exact same thing. When I have a bad day, I sometimes daydream about winning the lottery and telling everyone to kiss my a**. So I totally know what you're saying.


Alexa 6 years ago

Wow. This is astonishing. I am not diagnosed officially, I am a 41 yo woman, but I feel as though this is me too. Only just realised today. Holy shmoly Dhart. How do we survive in this world?? I have been fired from about six jobs over the years; although I have held my current job for more than eight years, but it is part time. Have been having both the lottery and full-time writing fantasties. Alternatively. lol. Always thought something was "wrong with me". What a relief to realise this. No need to continue fighting it. It's ok! Just need to adjust my life externally so it works for me. Not sure where to begin... a bit daunting. It's ironic, just these past months I have been realising I need to work for myself, and with as little outside interface as possible. Which just happens to be exactly what an aspie needs. Dhart, I think you write well, good career move. And well done dealing with the rough and tumble of the school yard all those years! Must have been hard.

I particularly relate to this paragraph:

"Those nervous breakdowns always happened after co-workers and others would complain about me and tell me what I needed to work on after putting my heart and soul into whatever I was doing."

Ain't it the truth. Thanks for sharing your story.


Dhart profile image

Dhart 6 years ago from Culver City, CA Author

@Alexa: Thanks for the comments, they were very thoughtful and poignant. You & I have similar fantasies, particularly as far as winning the lottery; I fantasize about that all the time.


Alexa 6 years ago

lol very funny Dhart. And verry unlikely... and yet, we persist! Better than taking mind-altering substances I guess. I even have different fantasies for different amounts of money I win. You'll be pleased to hear I do give back to society though. lol. I try not to indulge in these thoughts too often, they can leave me feeling a bit empty. I am trying to organise myself to write some books and get them published. I am extremely disorganised. I need to set myself some deadlines. Any tips appreciated.


5 years ago

Hi Everyone,

I am suffering from these blues too. Asperger Syndrome is a condition, an imbalance in the brain leading to such emotional breakdowns etc. Best Relief that I have experienced is through adopting some simple concepts:

1)First thing is to keep things simple and understand the old saying "This too shall pass" And I am not referring to the cure of Aspergers but rather the fading out of life which we are living; In the end everyone dies; May be the world has seen trillions of Aspies like us but how many would the world remember ?

2)I think Aspies are generally very conscious of themselves and I can relate to this very well. Also Aspies prefer to be alone so why not make the most out of being alone. Try Meditation, Pranayam, Zen and keep it simple and routinal(routines are also something which Aspies cling on fervently and anything that disrupts that routine could make us go mad)

3)Accept the situation at hand and only look at solutions around you. Doing the simple things around will often put the bigger picture in place.

4)Honour your parents no matter what and keep good relations with atleast your immediate family members coz they you know you through and through and will understand better.

5)Breath Control techiniques like Pranayama done at a relaxed and steady pace is very very beneficial. Believe me , I started breathing exercises and continued for a month and feel much better. Other activities include Zen, Yoga, Tai Chi etc."Try and be consistent but don't worry if I am not able to" is what I tell my self.

6)I would not say "Love yourself" ; Instead I would say Accept yourself no matter what and you will be peaceful. What's important is Peace of Mind and not whether you`re successful or a loser.

7) Read philosophical and religious books whenever you get free time. Some of the Books include : Bible, Geeta, Torah, Tao Te Ching, Books on Zen(I love the Shunryu Suzuki Book "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind"). These books have helped me to understand the transiency of life and surrender the results of our tasks to God Almighty and this leads me to the last and most important point of all.

8)Love and Honour God, ask him for solutions as a friend would ask you and communicate with him in your mind as often as you can and things will be fine even if they seem not be so at first. He is the true self that's omnipotent in you and me and everywhere. Believe and let him live through you. Actually I get the feeling that the Holy Spirit works through us continously, and wants us to change the way we see and do things, its just that we don't let him take control by resisting most of the time.Its ok to be our true self in most situations( excepting in a movie flick may be .. :D) and when we accept things as they are without resisting or supporting, then we can say that God works through us to do what is right. Well these are just my thoughts...

Would be great if other people like me are more at peace by following the above or may be others can share some of their activities that brought them peace.

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