Special Report: Depression & Autism

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The death last Monday of the famous actor/comedian, Robin Williams has opened yet another opportunity to discuss depression.

Robin Williams had died from an apparent suicide last Monday morning (PT) at his Bay Area, CA home. He was 63. He was dealing with financial problems, and also was dealing with his cancelation of his TV show, The Crazy Ones, likely due to low overnight ratings. Other reports claim he was dealing with an onset of Parkinson’s (unable to confirm that here.) He was in many films from Jumanji (which apparently according to the Union Leader, was filmed in Southwest NH), Mrs. Doubtfire, Bicentennial Man, voiced over the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin , and many more movies and will appear in 6 more films ready to be released in the coming year. Older readers may recall him in the 70s TV series Mork & Mindy, which was the catalyst to his career.

Williams had said in the past he was dealing with depression and went into rehab 8 years ago. He dealt with drugs and alcohol. A month ago, it was confirmed he was going back into rehab, citing “tuning up” his sobriety. In any case it was likely too late, as something caused him to kill himself last week.

It would not be appropriate to discuss – or speculate why he did it nor mentioning if he was a coward or not to do that. I’d like to turn the focus on to the topical status of depression.

Whether or not depression is part of autism, or autism causes depression, or it’s a similar but different, or it’s caused genetically (like from your crazy uncle – literally) or not, the fact is depression and autism  can go in tandem. There is no doubt about that, despite how many PhD hacks you talk to. Depression and ASD can be caused by various factors, becoming an adolescent, coming to a realization that you are “different” or just the poor execution of your support system’s ability to help you.

I know people who are in their late twenties in some level of depression. I myself have dealt with this on and off at least for the last 15 years. If you had followed this blog for the last few years, I’ve really held “the system” accountable for lot of the damages caused to me.

There is a taboo in the developmental disabled and the mental disorder community whether or not both practices should merge. Psychiatric, mental disorders and developmental disorders 3 different things traditionally. There are various methods in treating them, but they are all different. That doesn’t mean that they should come together or be recognized as dual issues. Because these disorders are so separate, the delivery system for services and support are separate. Whose to say someone with severe autism is also dealing with depression? Whose to say someone with Down’s could be bipolar? Also why are we so focused on the disorder and so worried about going to the right agency to get services or should I say the best services since in some areas, mental disorders and developmental disorders are handled by two different services?

Also its been a cliche all week long about how mental health services are not addressed properly. I’d go even further and say mental health services for people with autism are also limited too. In my area, there are a handful of psychologists that ether specialize in autism, or has a working knowledge of autism. (The other handful focuses on ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome, which I’m leaving out because people with AS can choose to not be a odd, weird talking liberal moonbat, and act like everyone else. Sorry I don’t respect people with AS.)

Despite the contrary, New Hampshire in the downstate region is part of the Greater Boston metro region, and even in the most world class cities in the world, this area and probably even the Mass. Merrimack Valley also lacks in mental health services for dual dx’d mental and developmentally ill clients.  I blame part of the Boston snobbery that insists civility doesn’t exist north and west of I-495.

In closing, there needs to be a national discussion with trying to eliminate the stigma of depression; and another track to discuss why so many people with autism or other related disorders are falling into the cracks and why so many arrogant leaders are not realizing there is a depression problem with the autistic community. Especially in the twentysomething crowds, where many grew up in the dark ages of autism being a mysterious and unknown disorder and had parents not knowing where to go and school districts not putting focus on them. If we can’t take this opportunity to discuss this problem, there will be another tragedy that won’t get mentioned because they aren’t a celebrity.

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Special Report: Getting Back to Work

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A Special Report on “Getting Back to Work”

On Sunday, I did a special report on the fears of getting committed in work programs. In tonights special report, we focus on possible strategic ways to gracefully get back to work without causing strain to your life, your child’s life.

my worst enemy: I keep myself busy

I can relate to this, because that could explain why I haven’t gotten back to work myself. Especially when you want to do something when you actually have to work. If that is the case, it could explain that you didn’t have the time to do something else because you were tied into another routine.

The “system” is so perplexing, how do can I find a work program?

If you are in a school system, receive services though a state, through a state funded agency or you have Medicaid or Vocational Rehab is the easiest path to begin. Depending on what type of program, find the one that best fits for your or your loved one. Sadly, the customized programs are slowly cropping up in some places

 What kind of things I should look into?

Look at literature like brochures, handouts or even a website. Look anything that stands out. If you see something that throws a red flag, don’t be afraid to question them.

In my case, I was turned away of what I consider a entry level position as something you expect for some salary level position with a recent research with a local program provided by the agency.

Question as much as you want, don’t be afraid to “be nice” – it actually doesn’t help you. If the program director or the manager of the program seems to have a charm, that can be potentially a smoke screen.

If a program appears to be customized, ask how far can it be customized. If customization is an option, it means the program will better fit for someone because it tailors to what you can do vs. what you can’t do or worse, must do.  Find out things such as minimal hours, staff to client ratio, what have other clients gotten a job for and so on. If you are not open in the beginning that’s ok, experts in these experiences say its because likely the program directors want to find out what you like and immediately apply it for a job without a cautious approach.

Be upfront.

I told these people when I went for the initial meeting that I didn’t work for many years and I am afraid of getting back to work with all the fears of my alleged social skills issues, and the fears of heightened anxiety thanks to the pressures of these people.

Just with any job any accommodations should be brought up as soon as possible so don’t be afraid to be upfront when committing with the program. If you are nervous with the programs’ expectations, do not be afraid to mention that.

With that in mind, these suggestions should be able to help someone go back to work with grace and peace without the chaotic hell some programs provide.

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The Fears of Work Programs

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In tonight’s special report, I focus on the fears of the idea of work and vocational programs.

There are a lot of concerns to put it in easy terms there is the idea of working, the expectations and the willing and commitment of such.

To begin, lets start off with the “idea of working.” The idea of work goes back to individuals in their 14 to 16 range (or even 18 in later groups.) To some individuals, they are willing to work (and want to) some like this writer wanted more education over education.

With the complex laws in special needs, and with many Americans who get funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Act or IDEA, it essentially dictates the school systems that the child move towards vocational programs when they are 16 or in my case indefinitely when I was 18. 

Again, I can’t speak for others, but for me I felt “work” was my life and not anything else.

The High Expectations

“Once you put high standards, you already did it to yourself to have zero rate of failure”

The many misconceptions of work programs is the general assumption that all high functioning people expect a lot of themselves so they see them doing high class office work. Well whose fault would it be if one fails, is it them or is it the professionals in the work study programs?

“one brochure said ‘Are you ready for a challenging career’? a) why use a timid word like ‘challenging’ and b) I can’t recall many people with PDD stating they want to be in a ‘career’? Its just backwards!”

This would turn many like me away too. In fact a couple of work programs in my area were in office settings and had an intimidating environment to it in the promotional material composed by the corporate hustlers of the program.

“there are committees of people looking at your sensitive information and they don’t even know you – and worse – its not a job for a Senior Vice President!”

Maybe it’s due in part of multi agencies like VR, DHHS or other agencies that participate in a work program that they require a “committee” but this would turn someone away.

“I applied for a job last year, and it had a laundry list of general responsibilities for the job, but it never dictated to me that ‘I must be willing to work’ and ‘must do this’ or ‘must do that’, etc.”

So why is that? Why are special needs individuals held to a different, but higher standard when normal functioning people held to little standards or can get a job and not be held responsible in the same level as a normal appearing special needs individual?

The fear of commitment 

The work programs demand high standards in some ways could be construded to perfection. Again in the world of special needs, they preach on not living in the past, and  preaching on forward thinking on the positives, however it is a Catch Twenty-Two.

“One mistake can be costly, you know – you try to do your best and that one mistake would screw you. And it wouldn’t hurt the business or program at all, just for you.”

With any career takes commitment and time to reach the goal however for some its too much

“I never had a life because I had to spend 40 hours x/week to go to school including the long commutes; and these silly work programs force 30 or so hours a week and God forbid I take a day or two off in a 6 month program or I get grilled to death. These silly work programs insist that I shall remain a robot and a virgin because I wouldn’t be able to have other things worth doing in my life. I never had a girlfriend ether because I was forced out of my will to work with other people which took my entire time out of my week or even life!”

“I fear that I would get ‘committed’ into an institution for work purposes.”

“I fear I’m signing my life away”.

Why?

Because the requirement for the work program is in many cases more demanding like having proper attire, proper grooming, the “you must” “you will” and “you agree to”. In some cases to some it could be akin to joining the military.

Relationships

Yes, even in work programs the Relationship aspect comes into play. One of the struggles is many of these work programs are out in the public, there would be a need for high standards in regards to respect to the people in the work place

“My agent is a year older than I am, yet they expect me to handle this appropriately?”

This concern isn’t addressed enough. Thankfully not all Millenials are snobbish against the special needs community, however this is a big concern. If people have not been able to be around their “peer group” (whatever that means) then how can they work with someone on the same age level and expect to have similar to a teacher-student relationship?

As mentioned earlier, these work programs put such high level of social status to the point where the individual will likely flunk it.

I’m not good enough”

This is not a remark of low self-esteem. In fact this in part of degrading people into lower social classes. Yes we are talking about professionals in the school system talking down to a lower-middle class student and putting self pity against himself because he doesn’t have two sources of income coming from his family nor does his family have college background and has the “small town” mentality.

This actually refers to people who lack social skills in the sense of affulence, income, education, mental IQ.

How does this apply to work programs? If you didn’t come from mumma or dadda’s trust fund or has a family who can only put $60,000 a year on a table, you are going to be treated like white trash from the dirty side of the tracks, even when this is TOTALLY illrelvent to appling for work programs in the system. Officially, you must be on Medicaid and have services from another level of Medicaid or receive services in a Vocational Rehab like agency.

Psychology has nothing to do with reality (officially) but the mindset of a special needs professional who touts their 8 year degree can say or act otherwise.

In all realness, despite the economic times, unemployment with special needs is very high in some locations its nearly 50%, that isn’t including individuals who have given up only because they are tired of being feared and devalued. Factoring those numbers could easily jump up to 55 to 60% in some locales.

Sure “Beggars can’t be choosers” but a work program shouldn’t be making people turn away only because they are not open to aligning generic expectations into the individuals abilities and their own expectations.

Until this can be corrected, expect to see more of this to come.

*

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The Apple Store Flub Up, Part Two

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Editorial Note: Recently, this writer had attempted to apply for a job at the local Apple Store, however specific details will be withheld to protect the identity of Apple Inc, and this writer. Be advised, that this story is written by an autistic individual, and such information could potentially be abnormal for someone using this site as a resource for a career at Apple Inc.

I was pretty shaken up even after I published the first report on the attempt for a job at the local Apple Store. Some of my writing appeared to be incoherent.

Regardless, with the substance aside I was already had my mind shut after realizing the working hours were too onerous especially for a part time position.

A capture of my iPhone of the agreement for work hours

I agreed to disagree in the commitment to hours. I don’t even know if I filled out the form properly. It didn’t matter. The ideal door was slamming shut and I started to “run away” from the idea of working there. Which could explain why I was so flustered as the time went on. The location was redacted, hence the pen mark and snuck this picture with my iPhone discreetly.

I was a bit bothered about how the hiring process was to begin with. How many companies, organizations or others do “hiring seminars”? Second, did anyone get the cut? I don’t know, since I haven’t been to the mall or even The Apple Store since. Third, was it just a tease to begin with?

I knew I wasn’t qualified for the position, ether I knew too much about a dying product (the Mac)  or I showed obvious social glitches, (sorry to use a cliche if you have been following the Obamacare debacle lately.) Yeah, they wouldn’t hire me even if I am 1/4 blood/ 3/4 physical Asian

Like I had said earlier, my experience was similar to the other sources I found on the web, it was like grade school. The last time I was in a mainstream classroom was at the end of the 20th Century. I forgot how to answer open-ended trick questions. At one point when they were asking us what we liked about the Apple products and I mentioned about how I could use my MacBook without shutting down for weeks and mentioned its UNIX backend. One of the 4 leaders said “they don’t get viruses” after that response. It sounded condescending if you asked me.

Like I have said before, there was focus on international Apple Stores, one or two of the candidates had actually went to the Shanghai Apple Store, and one of the leaders was focusing for at least 4 minutes explaining that city in China is like our Las Vegas, etc, etc. and etc.

I am capitalist and sure I respect a global economy and all, though it leads to a point about how the middle class is shrinking. A Median Social Class.

The middle class used to tolerate people in their own community. I mentioned in the last report how one of the candidates I had talked to for the minute get to know each other, was actually living in the arch rival town I had move away 3 years ago. That community is fully an upper class town, a mini world class town. A community that is ill-tolerant of special needs outside the SAU properties townwide. That SAU agenda is to hate New Hampshire and care about any other place but the town or state they grew up.

It’s also a current social norm to forget “your roots” forget “where you came from” or even “forget how you started” to lieu of an amped up multiculturalism that includes NOT tolerating anyone with developmental disability!

I don’t want to sound too folky or low class, but you know I wished there was more regional focus to sell Apple products to the city, county and metro area I live in rather than. What does Shanghai again have to do with the Metro North area of Boston?

Moving on, into the rejection email. Knowing a working level of enterprise apps and IT, the “generic” response was actually something you expect from a Customer Relations Management or CRM software. Unless Apple secretly innovating in something called a HRM for Human Relations Management, then I could see why they do this now knowing how robotic their “management” is.  The lady leader had said “I will respond tomorrow first thing read: I will respond by using my CRM client to kindly say ‘yes’ or  ‘no’ to you.” I wonder if they do this to screw around people, I bet if only 1 got the hiring.  Again at this undisclosed location, they claimed its harder to get a job at an Apple Store than it is to get into Stanford.

I actually knew a girl from elementary school who worked at this location, though I haven’t seen her working there in the past year. I tried to message her on Facebook a few days before this hoping to strike a conversation to no avail. BTW: I would never do any “networking” to do something like cronie hiring.

However it wasn’t meant to be. That thought a year or so ago was better off a dream than a reality. Several of my close folks have told me to seriously consider going back to the idea of  a vendor based work program because I apparently can’t do this on my own like I thought I could. What does this mean? Limiting my options and doing basic work (not complaining, I’d be willing to do it) and being around odd, fat bleep losers, which in turn limits my options even more.

Another thing I need to learn is stop being an emotional wreck I am, and try to be more professional and not so reactive.

Live and Learn

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