We had the pleasure of speaking with autism-advocate Tyla Grant, founder of Adulting with Autism; an online blog where she shares her experiences of living as an autistic adult. Tyla was diagnosed aged 17, and since then has strived to create a safe, online space for other autistic individuals.
1) What inspired you to start your Adulting with Autism blog?
“When I was getting ready to leave university there wasn’t much help or support affordable and available for someone like who was going on to live a fully independent life. A lot of my peers were moving back home or had a job lined up and for many reasons I had neither but also couldn’t find any information that was tailored for autistic people on how to tackle such a big change and get yourself up to adult ‘right’.”
2) How would you like your blog to help other autistic adults?
“The blog is a mix of personal anecdotes documenting my experiences as an autistic adult. I’d like to think it’ll help others feel less helpless and alone. In the future, I’m hoping to hold some practical adulting-skills workshops.”
3) What do you think the preconceptions of autistic people are and how would you say they are different?
“One preconception is that it’s just a social disability and you have difficulty making friends, when actually it goes far beyond that. The co-morbid conditions, isolation from the world around us, and just generally not being on the same page as everyone else is tiring. It’s draining; a simple catch up with friends can have your head spinning if more than one person talks at once. We’re sound people who are often misunderstood.”
4) What do you think is most difficult about being an autistic adult?
“Currently for me, it’s dating and relationships. By the time I’ve finished with work, made sure my house is in order and tied up all the important loose ends, I find I don’t have the capacity to deal with meeting new people. Then when I do (meet new people), getting them to understand they have to communicate with me differently than they would with a neurotypical person is hard. So many times, I’ve had lads say to me “oh I’ll take the hint” and I’m there searching for the hint because to me there wasn’t one! Haha.”
5) What do you is most difficult about being autistic and finding a meaningful job?
“What constitutes as a ‘meaningful job’ is different to everyone; some people need their job to define them, whereas I just need to be happy in my workplace, and not be stressed out over-stimulated by my job tasks. My job as a Data Analyst plays well to my autistic traits of pattern-spotting, ability to do repetitive tasks and hyper-focus. I like to think I’m creative and my ideal role would be to use my interest in social media educate small businesses on how best to use social media for their company.”
6) What advice would you give to others searching for work?
“Rejection is redirection. Don’t hold back from applying for a role, even if you think you’re not good enough get the job. You could be the most qualified person who applies, so just do it!”
7) What advice would you give to employers looking to hire autistic employees?
“I’d really question why you want an autistic person specifically – if it’s based on any stereotypes about the way we work, then make sure you ask in the interview how the person works and likes to be managed.”