I Didn't Know I Had Autism Until I Was 24. It Changed My Life for the Better

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When I was 24, I was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. Before I received the diagnosis, I had no idea that I was living with autism. I only knew that I was different. For example, I was not as good with social interactions, and I often needed help with simple things like writing to-do lists and tying my shoes. I just thought this was part of who I was.

Another thing I thought was just a facet of my personality? The fact that I had a hard time holding down a job. For a while, I was a waitress, then a restaurant manager and later a receptionist — but I didn’t hold down any of these positions for very long. This affected my confidence, because I assumed I was not very good at certain things and was constantly worried about being “found out” at work. I later learned that’s a pretty common feeling for those on the autism spectrum.

I put a lot less time into stressing about the things I struggle with.

At some point, I started working as a consultant at JPMorgan Chase in its Bournemouth Corporate Centre working on data entry, which really suited me. I have a great mind for numbers and patterns, and I was looking for errors in strings of numbers. At the time, being a contractor felt like pretty safe work — if you’re asked to leave, it doesn’t count as being fired. But during this time, something extraordinary happened: My managers asked me to stay on full-time.

It was around this time that I got my diagnosis. When I told my managers at JPMorgan Chase, they were so supportive and have helped me play to my strengths while working around the things I find challenging. For example, if I have to make a difficult phone call, I give myself 10 minutes to think about what I need to say. My manager also gives me coaching. I can say, “I have an issue that I need to raise, but I don’t know how to do it appropriately.” We talk about the approach, and I feel empowered. It also means that I put a lot less time into stressing about the things I struggle with.

My managers now put me on projects where they think my skills will be appreciated. That’s a confidence boost for me — something that used to mark me as different in a bad way now marks me as different in a good way.

My relationship with my colleagues has also changed since my diagnosis. I used to feel disconnected from people and never laughed at anyone’s jokes. I was like, “Why is that funny?” Small talk didn’t make sense to me either. As a result, people thought I was rude or unfriendly. Now, because my colleagues know about my diagnosis, they know how to relate to me. When someone makes a joke, they’ll add, “Whoa, whoa — sorry, Kym. That was sarcasm.” And I’ll laugh along with them. It provides a point of connection, even though we understand we’re on different frequencies. To feel that warmth from my colleagues is lovely. It makes me feel like I’m a valued member of the team.

Kym Francis is a wholesale client onboarding analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Post Author: martin

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Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of BriefNews.eu and PCHealthBoost.info Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

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