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Featured High IQ, but Unemployed?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Edward764, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. Edward764

    Edward764 Active Member

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    I seem to remember reading somewhere that 66% of people with autism are not employed.

    I find this baffling because of the high level of intellect, deep thinking, and well presented thoughts and feelings that are so eloquently expressed on these forums. Most contributors seem to have far greater than average intelligence.

    Why is this? Is the typical autistic individual more intelligent than average, or does this forum only attract the most intellectually elite among the autistic spectrum?

    I would be shocked if only 34% of the people of these forums were capable of gainful employment.
     
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  2. disconnected

    disconnected Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I have a pretty serious job.
     
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  3. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't think intelligence has much to do with the ability to work. I agree that most here displays intellect, deep thinking and well presented thoughts and feelings. But many of those also have said they speak much better here than they would in person. It's not that many are not smart enough to do jobs or have a career - it's all the other stuff that makes it difficult. I was an R.N. and worked a lot of years, but it was really hard because I had to deal with bosses and co-workers and schedules and mistreatment and I could go on and on. I did work, but after all those working years I'm tested and shown that I had severe impairment in social and occupational functioning. So being smart enough had nothing to do with why it was so difficult for me. Does that make sense?
    Hi Edward and welcome.
     
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  4. tlc

    tlc The Mackinac Bridge and U.P. is my happy place.

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    My entire working life I've been told it's not what you know, it's who you know. Which I think is crap but that's the way it is. Recent years interviewing at other companies makes me feel like that is still correct. It's less about being able to do the job, and more about taking part in activities with the coworkers both on and off the clock. My experience anyway. Even my previous job I got fired because they said I did my job well but didn't socialize and go for walks down the road with the coworkers. At least they paid me for the rest of the month so I could find another job.
     
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  5. Michael Balog

    Michael Balog Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I agree I do speak better here cause I have the ability to choose my words and plan what I want to say more carefully. Also I have had a couple of jobs where co workers have mistreated me and I was a target for constant ridicule cause I couldn’t fit in with NT people.
     
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  6. inkfingers

    inkfingers 19 year old Aspie artist and Jesus follower

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    I have a higher than average IQ, yet I haven't been able to hold down a part time job due to autistic burnout, sensory overload, and social difficulties. I would say I'm a fairly intelligent person. The problem is not a matter of intelligence. It's a matter of enduring the sensory bombardments and social/communication problems that accompany an autistic person. I'd be fine working by myself in the environment of my choosing, but in a busy store, or having to interact with people, and I just fall apart.
     
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  7. GadAbout

    GadAbout Active Member

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    I'm definitely a member of the autistic intellectual elite.

    the WHAT? :rolleyes:
     
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  8. GrownupGirl

    GrownupGirl Tempermental Artist

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    It's social and sensory issues that affect our ability to work, not intelligence.
     
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  9. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Some of that 66% are diagnosed with low-functioning autism, or have other co-morbid disorders that prevent them from working.

    Have worked a good part of my life, as has my husband and both of us have autism. Neither of us knew until we were in our fifties. There are lots of people who are not diagnosed and are autistic and have fallen under the radar and coped with life, family and jobs.

    As for intelligent people on the site, yes there are many.
     
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  10. FreeDiver

    FreeDiver How long can you hold your breath? V.I.P Member

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    It's true that most autistic people can easily out intellect their NT counterparts. I myself have managed to out witted a few university professors, including ones with Ph.D's. But there's the thing. Those intellectual superpowers that you are noticeing in autistic people did not come without a price. What we gain in one area, we lose in another. Plus, most autistic gain their intellectual strength by the simple fact that we must process social interaction by "cognitive" means. Which means our brains get a workout every time we go out and socialize.
     
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  11. Pinkie B

    Pinkie B Just Me

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    I'm "intellectually elite." I tested something like 132 IQ (2 points above the FL state minimum for gifted education access). I graduated from TWO elite universities putting me at somewhere above 99-99.5% of people in terms of educational achievement (my bachelor's program told me they accepted 22 of over 900 applications putting me at less than 2.5% acceptance rate).

    However, my greatest difficulty since graduating my undergraduate program has been coming to terms with the fact that despite my amazing intelligence and supposed achievements, I am nonetheless next to incapable of performing basic life maintenance tasks on my own. I only check physical mail once a month or less because it stresses me out. I force myself to read work e-mails once a week, but probably only average about 2 out of every 3 weeks. I often eat pantry crumbs for days on end because going to the grocery store is such a big undertaking.

    I used to time myself to see how long it took to accomplish these supposed-to-be-second-nature tasks to see why I was so overwhelmed all the time and most of the things that scare the poopoo out of me take less than 15minutes to get through. And yet I'm useless for the rest of the day. I call these my Hard Things because I've learned that if something is hard for me then I can only reasonably expect myself to do two of them in one day, on a good day, less when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

    So, yeah, I have a constant fear of losing my job because I don't know that I could handle one with more expectations, and if I lost mine because I couldn't keep up with the current expectations then I'm basically unemployable...

    I'm 35. This has been a lifelong struggle.
     
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  12. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member

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    @Pinkie B You just summarized how my life has been.
    At age 20, my IQ was off the charts, yet everyday life was hard to get through.
    Anxiety, panic attacks, masking to act social, just the basic daily tasks were next to impossible.

    I had a good profession and was able to work with it mainly because it didn't involve interacting with
    other people all that much. Certainly not the public. Still after so many years, I became ill and had
    what you could call a nervous breakdown, physical disabilities also. So I went onto SSD and SSI.
    I'm 62 now, that's all behind me, no worrying about work.
    But, I still struggle with life and trying to function.
    So having a high IQ gets you no where if you can't handle day to day functioning.

    I just posted a meme on another thread that shows how a simple thing can cause stress:
    anxietycat.jpg
     
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  13. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I think that most people on the spectrum, including myself, find written communication a lot easier and less troublesome than verbal communication. We also tend to be very analytical in our approach to problems and issues, especially in writing. This is how we naturally process information.

    Many here have a higher than average IQ, but that is not always the case. I do not know my IQ, but assume it to be at least average. I hold two university degrees, yet struggle with social communication and have had many issues with employment, as a result of this I am now self-employed, but do not have the financial security and success enjoyed by most of my peers. It's not the case that I'm unable to work, it's my social deficits and anxiety that hold me back, prevent me from gaining and keeping long term employment.

    As others have pointed out, higher intellect does not lead to professional or financial success. Who you know, and social success are equally, if not more important. My sister, for example, has far few academic qualifications than I have, and yet she holds a managerial position in her company, simply because she is sociable and well-connected, knows how to 'play the game'.
     
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  14. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    Winner winner chicken dinner

    That's a bit low. I thought there was a 150 minimum for the AIE (autistic intellectual elite)

    They let in anybody these days :)

    I don't think I like her. :)
     
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  15. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    I’m a smart cookie with a medical degree currently working a desk job because while I am a good doctor I can’t cope with all the chaos that accompanies the job.
     
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  16. NothingToSeeHere

    NothingToSeeHere Asexuowl V.I.P Member

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    I would be unemployed right now if my supervisor from my previous job (contract ended a couple of months ago) didn't like me and think I was good at my job, enough so to proactively recommend me to other people. Even in academia it's not what you know, it's who you know, and left to myself I am utterly terrible at networking.

    Being intelligent and highly educated doesn't change the fact that I am awful at interviews and verbal communication in general.

    As for this site, I don't believe it can be taken as representative of the autistic population. I'd guess that most of the members here are on the "high-functioning" end of the spectrum, of average or above average intelligence. Also autistic people are often better at communicating in writing that in person. And as for employment, ability to write intelligently on a forum does not mean that one has all the skills necessary to get and keep a job, or even to live independently.

    The term "intellectual elite" makes be cringe. It's abelist, reeks of undeserved arrogance (not that deserved arrogance is any better), and in my anecdotal experience people who like to claim to be intellectuals or "elite" tend to be the Dunning-Kruger effect personified.
     
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  17. Edward764

    Edward764 Active Member

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    I suppose what separates me from most on this forum is that being autistic is not my only challenge, but having a low aptitude in many disciplines of life has also set me back.

    My unusual learning disabilities have given me very poor coordination and balance, so I was never able to play organized sports. Medical professionals said when I was six years old that " I could not do exercises in school, moved around all the time, had completely immobilized anxiety, and was functioning on a retarded level."

    In middle and high school, I tested in the bottom 25% of my peers in mechanical reasoning and space relations.
    I was bullied all throughout school mercilessly due to my awkwardness, largely by my toxic friends. I even had wind passed in my face in the high school locker room when I was 16 years old, on a daily basis for four months. One of my " friends" dumped a trash can over my head in class when I was 14, and always stole my textbooks.

    One day in middle school PE, the entire class of about 60 people rocked back and forth in unison saying " do the Edward" since rocking back and forth was how my autism was physically expressed.

    To this day, I do not know how to make a paper airplane, or tie a tie.
    I am a technological dinosaur as well, as I do not know how to e-mail forms, post you tube videos on forums, or create an avatar.

    For the last 40 years, however, I have had little trouble actually socializing with people on a peripheral level. I appear quite normal and well spoken to strangers and co-workers, but do not easily make friends.

    I am 61 years old and have never been out on a date, which would shock people with whom I associate.
    I do not feel as though I have earned a relationship, since I have never contributed in a significant way to society.
    I also could not deal with the irony of a relationship. I consider myself the most bizarre person to have ever existed, and the fact that no one could ever understand me would mean that I would always be alone.
    I have mostly had nomadic jobs, where I can create the illusion of competence since I do not work with any group of people for more than 5% of the time. This had allowed to me to remain in current position for 22 years, despite a few setbacks.

    i guess I am more fortunate in some ways, and more unfortunate in other ways than the majority on this forum. On average, it seems I am less intelligent, but more able to comfortably communicate with co-workers.
     
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  18. SeanDIdgeridoo1996

    SeanDIdgeridoo1996 Member

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    Currently unemployed, I've got a 2:1 degree in English Literature w/ Creative Writing. I personally wouldn't say that intelligence is the issue here but the fact that there simply is no jobs going in my chosen field, and I'm also fully convinced I've been turned down for jobs because I've put my diagnosis in the application form.
     
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  19. Yeshuasdaughter

    Yeshuasdaughter Active Member

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    I've been unemployed since 2003. I tried college but couldn't manage it.

    Remember, autism is a debilitating neurological condition where people get easily overwhelmed and black out by social or other stimuli.
     
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  20. shysnail

    shysnail Well-Known Member

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    Physical issues are pretty common amongst autistic people. I struggle with balance, spatial awareness, generally not falling over or banging into things. This extends for me to learning physical skills. It takes me a lot longer than others. I was recently on a course where rope tying was a component, and I was basically mocked by the instructor for being unable to either tie or throw a rope correctly. So you're far from alone on that @Edward764

    As I'm sure you've got from other replies, intelligence on paper doesn't mean everything comes easy. I often feel like academic stuff and learning is the only thing that feels actually easy and non-stressful to me. If I could have stayed in education forever, I probably would have.

    I don't know if you've seen the documentary Asperger's and Me with Chris Packham, but in that he is surprised that autism has the lowest employment rates amongst any disability group in the UK. Like your original question, he wondered how there can be autistic people who are intelligent and often very knowledgeable yet unable to work. Well, as others have said, being able to do the actual work is one thing. Going through the process of finding a job, and then dealing with all that goes along with having a job (having co-workers, a boss, social gatherings) is where it falls apart.

    I'm self-employed and earning very little compared to what someone with my education level maybe could do. But to me it's a worthy price for having a job that doesn't cause me intense anxiety.
     
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