Author Archives: Laura
OK. I just posted blogs about transition from childhood to adulthood for we of various “invisible” disabilities: ID, DD, LD, SD (Intellectual, Developmental, Learning, social). In one specific blog I pointed at the difficulties that we can have with bureaucratic paperwork. Well, I just did. I sold my motor scooter.
I do not know how the motor vehicle bureaucracy works for you in your state. Here in Aridzona the MVD demands that not only the buyer report to the MVD the purchase of a vehicle, it requires the seller to report the sale. So I went to the MVD office and there on the form I need the buyer’s address, and I ought to have kept the plate. Of course, the form is there at the office AFTER I sold the bike and went thence to the office.
Well, I did not get the buyer’s address, and I did not keep the plate. The form was returned to me today for completion and there is a warning that if I do not fill it out in full and return it in a timely fashion I may be liable for accidents and tickets and such.
This is exactly what an autistic person is likely to do: get all flustered in the social situation of selling a vehicle, not access memory during that process, be surprised by paperwork demands, find a governmental threat. I want to go the desert and be a hermit. I want to give up on society. I want to hide. I want to cry.
Let me begin with a confession. People think that I am smart. I am not. I can figure things in physics, I can understand helicopters, There are few intellectual challenges that I am not capable of meeting. Well, sort of. . . While I am talented indeed at these intellectual parlour games, I lack something; I probably lack a raft of somethings that are important to life. I have a hard time getting hired, I have an easy time of it in getting fired. I do not stay long enough to get any perks for seniority. I do not get raises, nor promotions. I can have tremendous responsibility heaped upon me because I am reliable, and then find that the people whose work I am doing in addition to my own get the raises and are promoted over me. Being honest and hard working does me little good.
I can do the job well, after a while. I learn a new task more slowly than do the entees all around me. I am likely fired before learning to do it to the boss’ satisfaction. Even if I manage to not be fired, I seem to be – in the boss’ mind – always a dunce, always a slow mover – even when later I am not. Even when later I am doing the work of others.
I don’t know why this happens. There has been no objective study performed of my work ability. I surmise that perhaps it is composed largely of: my lack of normal audio processing and therefore a large number of misunderstandings of instructions given to me, my misunderstanding of human nuance and irony and satire all leading to further misunderstandings of instructions given to me, my ignorance of colloquialisms used by others which then lead to even more misunderstandings of instructions given to me, my use of precise language which is at once probably less than well understood by those around me and which might mark me as a smartass, my taking things literally, my poor physical coordination which can lead to slow learning and also a reputation as an idiot, my lack of self confidence, that I have a different learning style in which I must learn deeply: rules of thumb fail me! I forget rules of thumb. I need to understand the underlying logic, that takes time and slows my learning. Sometimes no one knows enough to teach me what I need to know. I probably ask too many questions. I have social issues and whether I go to the staff party and am the goat, or stay home and am the loner; neither of these does me well. There may well be more wrong with me and my approach to work than these.
Despite my ability in esoteric areas of thought, I am not a successful employee. I have found my best solution is to own my own business. I may not be able to keep a boss I must see each and every day happy, but I can probably please clients I see rarely. I can also work around another of my issues. . .
. . .You see, work is exhausting! In addition to the job itself, I must work the environment of the workplace. I am poor at this needed task. In the film: “Vectors of autism”* I say something akin to this, “I have found how to fit in, I still have no idea what is going on but I can fit in.” Try going into a hostile environment every day with the high stakes of making rent payments when you truly have no idea what is happening or why. See how exhausted you become. If I work for me, I can work when I am less fatigued; when I am less likely t make a mistake! I can work less, accept less pay, but work less than forty hours a week. I can work for me!
Yeah, if I can manage the paperwork. Yeah, if I can survive the bureaucracy that self owned business demands. Yeah, if I can live on the pittance that a one person company is likely to generate when the one person is in so many ways limited.
You see, I am a marginal person. That just is. When a person is markedly different from the majority; the majority that sets the rules whether legal or by convention, that person is marginal. Marginal persons need margins in which to exist. We are people of small environmental niches. When the all encompassing society paves over the surface so smoothly the cracks in which our niches may lie disappear! When all is regulated to uniform smoothness the marginal person has no where to go. We need the crevices of a not totally planned society! Those small places are our homes!
Don’t think you can pipeline us into the smooth well regulated world, No pipeline can take us successfully into environments in which we cannot succeed. We are the people who fall out of the pipelines anyway! The pipelines are all designed by people who pretty obviously did just fine in existing pipelines! We are moiré varied in our differences than are normal people, normalcy does not fit us! We need the rough edges, the cracks in the pavement, we need micro environments. These are disappearing fast.
There were more places for us in 1960 than now. High cost of living, regulations everywhere, legalities, documents. . . these can be insurmountable walls for marginal people. Transition?
Transition to what?
*If you have not seen it, you should. You can find links to our film site here on my website.
So there is the adolescent autistic, expected to transition to real life. Expected to get a job, move out of the house, get a life. What job? Listen. . .
. . .there is not surfeit of jobs out there. Across the most recent few decades we of theUnited States of Americahave handed the jobs to slaves. The manufacturing jobs are all overseas and largely where people working in camps and for very little pay do the actual value added sort of work. In theUSwe have an army of illegals who are frightened to complain about pay or conditions at work, and so work for very little. There is a growing brigade of robots who work for the cost of utilities and maintenance and financing and who never call in sick or go on strike.
In the early twenty first century there are intelligent, physically healthy and capable, generally unimpaired Americans unable to find jobs. Young adults are wondering how to pay back college debts on fast food pay. The simple fact is that this place is a wreck.
When a nation falls, the marginal are hurt first and worst. If normal people cannot find jobs, how can a marginal person find enough pay to live? Please allow me to make a confession: Although I am hugely intelligent – I am so within certain areas of mental operation. I can understand physics, aerodynamics, structures. . .but I cannot well understand a JOB! I displease the boss. I fail to comprehend directions! Know what sort of thing I can do for a living. . .in reality? I could be a petrol station attendant!
There was a television show in the sixties. A major character was a petrol station attendant. Gomer Pyle was no stranger than was Barney or Floyd, Gomer was just Gomer. Although hardly the brightest knife in the drawer he was honest and hard working and friendly and part of the community: respected and loved. Know what?
In today’s America GOMER PYLE WOULD BE UNEMPLOYABLE! If not able to find assistance he would BE ON THE STREET!
Transition? Transition to what?
In the last installment I described the plight of a single working mother trying to raise an autistikid in the modern environment. What if you were the autistikid? More to the point, what if you were an autistikid, and now about to transition to the real world of work and life on your own?
You take an honest survey of your life, of yourself, of the world. You conclude that you must manage your energy and meltdowns; you cannot probably work forty hours a week. You realize that you will have a difficult time keeping bosses happy for long periods of time. You realize that your earnings will probably always be lower than average. What to do? Then in a flash you have an inspiration and from it you develop a plan.
You figure that you can control costs if you move into a not terribly expensive apartment with a room mate or two. You can easily go without the costs of a car. You can make ends meet on a small amount of money.
How will you make the money? Well you have ideas:
You can buy a sewing machine and a few items to go with it and so manufacture pot holders, toaster covers, tea cozies, perhaps doll clothes.
You could buy a pilot press and some type. You could make your own paper and then make hand made greeting cards.
You could do any number of such things and then self deliver the products to local stores by way of public transportation, walking, bicycle.
YES! And you could make maybe five or six thousand dollars a year for this sort of thing. But if you keep $6.000.00 after direct expenses and then have 40% disappear into the system in various ways, can you make it on $3,600.00 a year? Betcha didn’t plan on that. No you cannot make it on that pittance, not even with roomies!
And then this truth: standing between you and the legal ability to sell sewn items or hand made cards is a mountain of paperwork intimidating to we of DDs, IDs, LDs, SDs. This ain’t our world guys, it is just barely the world of entees! We of disability are falling out of it en masse!
Transition? Transition to what?
Here is a hypothetical mother of an autistikid. She is a single mother, and earns but $20,000.00 per year and pays no income tax. She does pay taxes though, and other forms of tribute to the system. She pays the FICA tax (I know that some do not like to call social security a tax, but it is in every functional respect.), which is 7.5%. No she does not, the company for which she works pays an equal 7.5% of her pay; this company portion does not come out of the company’s research budget not its executive salary, nor public relations. This is an employment cost, earmarked for that and would be paid to the worker if not to the federal government. Our single mother pays 15%.
She pays sales tax. Now, this varies by state and county and city, so I cannot be accurate here. Further, how much she pays depends upon how much she buys. If she was wealthy, and spent but a small portion of her earnings, then the percentage if income paid in sales tax would be small. However, a poor person is likely to live hand to mouth, spending every earned dollar and perhaps going more deeply into debt every month. If the local sales tax is 10%, and if half her expenses are taxable then she pays 5%. She now pays a total of 20%
There are non sales taxes that might as well be. On gasoline, natural gas, telephone service, and many other items are excise taxes, recycling and other fees. I can’t calculate well for lack of exact data, let’s just add all of 1% for a total now of 21%
She pays property tax whether on the house she owns or in the rent payment. Let us add another big 1% for a running total of 22% of her initial pay.
There is a hidden tax that we cannot but guess. You see, every company in the chain that brought a product to the store at which she buys it paid tax to some government somewhere. As this is simply a cost of doing business, it is incalculable. I would guess not less than 10% of everything she buys is this hidden taxation, and since she lives hand to mouth, spending every dollar earned, this is 10% of her earnings. Running total is 32%.
Then comes inflation. I could write a blog series on this topic alone. Let it suffice that the numbers which we are provided with are intentionally inaccurate. The official numbers include neither energy nor taxes! I will guess about 7% per year at this moment, I may be underestimating that. Now we are to a running total of 39%.
There are other items such as license and other fees, and I will take the final unusable portion of her “earnings” to be 40%. That means that of her $20,000.00 she has $8,000 in spending power disappear into the maw of the machine.
She has applied for help with her autistikid and is jumping and hopping like a drugged frog with joy at receiving $2,000.00 this year. That is ¼ of all she has paid. There are a lot of strings attached to that two grand. She is being bribed with her own money! And she must spend it on autism treatments that the system approves of. She must fill in a mountain of paperwork.
This is about to become far worse.
Same bat time, same bat channel!