In the world of Aspergers, there is a famous saying that “when you have met one person with Asperger Syndrome, you have met one person with Asperger Syndrome.” Since the condition is a spectrum disorder, the symptoms can range from person to person.
I have met in person and online, people with Aspergers who lack the motivation to do anything other than sit in their room and play video games. Although poor executive functioning skills and the trauma of bad social experiences are reasons that a lot of people on the spectrum do not want to leave their room, another reason that flies under the radar is that some parents do not push and encourage their kids to step out of their comfort zone at an early age.
Autism icon Temple Grandin got to where she is today is because her mom put her in controlled situations as a child and made her interact with guests at their house instead of letting her hide in her room. Although it took a while for Grandin to find her dream job, early intervention gave her a leg up in the employment world where so many on the spectrum falter.
On the flip side, I have met in person and online people with Aspergers who have persevered through trials and come out on the other side. When a problem occurred, these particular people found a way to solve the issue, especially when using the trait of hyper-focusing on a task. For example, I recently read on an Asperger support group on Facebook about a young adult with Aspergers who did not like living in Florida with his parents, so he moved to New York City to attend school there and make a life for himself.
At age 17, a family friend hired me for a job at Sonic Drive-In. Although my mom always pushed me to try new things, the reason I got a job when I could have spent the summer in my room reading road maps was that I wanted my own car. I was determined to save my money and get a car, which I eventually did shortly before starting my senior year of high school.
A lot of days I do not feel like going to work or doing anything productive. When I get sensory overload during my shift, it is easy just to quit early or give in and have a meltdown on the floor. However, if I gave up when I felt like it, I would probably be out of a job, which means no money for the occasional weekend vacation or gas money to drive to places to cover stories for my second job as a writer. I have such a great thing going for me, why would I want to throw that all away and become another Asperger unemployment statistic?
One of the ideas that took me a long time to learn and I am still learning, that persevering and practicing self-control during trials helps to build character. On days I come in to my job with little sleep, which leads me more prone to sensory overload or when I do get sensory overload I just want to scream and go home early, there are pride and satisfaction in knowing you gave it your all and were able to help your co-workers by putting in a shift.
It does not matter if you can do only half the load compared to a non-disabled person, the important thing is you showed up and did your job without complaining. Plus, I can save my time off for going on fun trips out of town instead of sitting at home.
I encourage parents of children on the spectrum to push them to try new things so they can function as adults. Tell them that powering through a scenario that they are not interested in doing helps to build character, which in turn can lead to a more rewarding social life.
How do you persevere when you feel a lack of motivation? Comment in the section below.
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