Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Aspergers, Sleep and Employment

A recent discussion on the Wrong Planet Work and finding a job discussion forum has focused on people making the adjustment from unemployed to full time employment and the effect it has on their sleep.

Most people on the Spectrum experience some form of sleep disorder. In my own case the sleep specialist I saw likened my leg movements to walking a few miles every night which not only made me physically tired but woke me up frequently with the movements. An RLS medication helped a lot.

While un/under-employed ASD folk are able to catch up on their sleep so it is no wonder that a full time job work impact that flexibility in rest. But the problem goes deeper. Full time employment means longs stretches of the day where the person has to remain vigilant against meltdowns, social faux pas and stimming that was not done before.

How to deal with this?

While unemployed it is a good idea to spend some time in public each day simply keeping up appearances. Think of it as working out in preparation for a game. Also, once you do start working schedule times to relax your guard in private. I used to book meetings in rooms alone simply for the purpose of going in and letting my social act slip. I would say the stim words, pace and even have silent meltdowns. After a while my energy levels built up and slowly the tiredness went away.

Certainly the breaks impacted my performance at work in the short run but they were certainly more acceptable than falling asleep at my desk or having an extreme moment in the workplace.

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