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A Sensory Career? How I've managed so far...


New Member
In my introduction post, I mentioned that I have taken my sensory issues and made a career of them. I work on Building Sites conducting Air Permeability Testing of new buildings, for the most part, for "Part L" Energy conservation compliance. It may interest some to know how this happened, so here goes.

I applied for, and got the job of an Air Test Engineer around the same time that my son was diagnosed with an "Autistic Spectrum Condition". Part of realising that I was firmly on the spectrum myself came from the realisation that in a very short space of time, I became rather good at it (unfortunately to a point where I suffered a little from arrogance for a short while, but I got over that ;-) lol)

I've always been able to sense when the weather was about to change, and like many of us, hear everything going on around me, all of the time, unless I am consciously filtering like mad to focus on one particular sound source. Temperature changes and air movement are also something I notice very readily.

While I was exploring my new self-knowledge, I set out to quantify some of what I regarded at the time as my "limitations", using the tools of my trade to my advantage, and I found out the following:

I am aware of sudden Air pressure changes without reference to a meter, of around 30-40+ Pascals. WITH a meter, I can feel a steady pressure stabilisation between two relative pressures of between 4-12 Pascals. Air motion can be felt from around 0.2 m/s upwards, and pinpointed to source relatively easily, and I see further into the Blue end of the light spectrum than the Red, on top of being generally very light-sensitive indeed.

Because what I do is technically science, there is a protocol and very strict parameters to the methodology I must employ, so the entire process of testing a building can be classified as a repetitive action - again a useful advantage to a lazy Autie as, given the correct site setup and conditions, I am able to perform the same test faster and more accurately than many others - my record for tests in one day is 27, whereas the average maximum booking for multiple tests from a company in a day would be around 6-8. Naturally, I got a *little* bored, and sought to expand my knowledge, and used spare time in the early days of my career to explore questions like "what if I test with negative pressure rather than positive" - "does it affect accuracy? or Result?" and the like.

This was in the early days of the AT industry in the UK, and led to my employer being the first to offer "Diagnostic decompression" as a product in its own right, along with my need to look at and know "all the things" which gave me an advantage in reporting and communicating the issues to Site.

Fast forward to now, and I operate independently as a freelance compliance tester as well as having my own clients, and get to charge handsomely for picking apart existing buildings which may be having issues. The last really major project it was my privilege to work on was the recent huge expansion of the British Museum in London. After a botched test from another company, I had a hypothesis within 20 minutes of being on site, and 4 days later, the data to prove it correct :-D. (It would have been the next day, but the site was woefully disorganised)

This doesn't really make much all that clear, I know, but the alternative is writing 10,000 words in a hit and presenting you with a wall of text, lol, so please feel free to ask questions and I'll try to expand. I can currently scrape by on one or two days work a week, providing they are the right kind of days!

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