Forms and my phobia of them

I’ve mentioned previously who I hate completing application forms.

This shows just part of the ream of paperwork

I’ve now been offered a job as a support worker for the National Autistic Society, a role that I am rather looking forward to.

Understandably, there are a lot of hurdles and hoops to be surmounted before commencing the role. The interview itself was friendly and they did try to make the experience as comfortable for me as possible; I had disclosed that I am on the spectrum, prior to the interview. I hate wearing a tie and was allowed to remove it for the interview, which does help me to relax a lot. (Strangely, I am perfectly comfortable in a day cravat.)

I have now to fill out about 20 plus pages of information, renew my DBS (although now for working with vulnerable adults, rather than working with children, so slightly different). Health monitoring questionnaires and have to provide an entire history since leaving school. I left school in 1988… I have no recollection of most of this, what and where. I have been advised that ‘best guess and approximation’ will suffice.

Whilst I do fully appreciate the need to protect client’s but this is going to require digging into the deep recesses of my memory in order to complete this. I also have to provide a personal reference for any gaps; again, this is required for a period of 31 years. During this time, I have travelled, lived in numerous Cities, addresses, held many jobs, been made redundant several times, had disagreements with employers, failed to ‘fit into the team’ on a couple of occasions and spent time looking for employment. None of this has been particularly easy and it’s not going to be especially easy to remember. The same goes for getting references from people 31 years ago. Many of the companies are no longer in existence, I know for a fact that at least three former managers have since died; one during the time I was working for them – and no, I wasn’t responsible!

In short, I can only think of only two people who have known me for that long and I have lost touch with them on a least one occasion during this period.

Hating and fearing forms means that I have to force myself to do this task; I have asked my partner to help me, but I’m high functioning and need to try and do this as best I can by myself. I will speak with the HR department and see what they advise.

I’ve spoken to others on the spectrum and some also share my sense of dread at completion of forms. I suspect that, for everyone, making an application for a job is far easier to simply send out a CV and covering letter and in these times of online applications, so many roles don’t even require a covering letter as CVs are going to be filtered through some dreadful recruitment sales team. In short, I suppose that this makes applying for things so much easier although also more ineffective. Maybe it encourages us to find a comfort zone and once found, reside in it.

Anyway, a new job will lead to new adventures, chance to travel. Although arguably not as much as I would like. I plan on doing at least one mountain bike race in Switzerland next year and it would also be nice to do the Marathon MTB race at the Roc Bike festival in France.

The concept of MTB marathon events rather appeals to me and having spoken to others of a similar age, it seems to suit. I have excellent endurance and I’m happy to simply keep riding for long periods. Endurance events allow me time to settle into my pace, which isn’t always possible in a race lasting an hour or an hour and a half.

I’m good on the start grid as I’m reasonably strong, but I can then struggle to keep that urgent pace throughout the first lap of a circuit, which can see me going backwards down the field. As such, an endurance race allows me to settle in and move forwards through the field, picking riders off gradually.

I will also be considering getting a cheap car as a ‘run around’, the problem with that is that Bradford is the highest insurance risk in the Country and support staff salary, especially for a charity isn’t going to make me wealthy.

That said, “new job, Yay!” A little ‘run around’ will allow me to get to events and make life easier in so far as my partner and I will be able to visit friends and family easier: we like her family and I like a couple of mine, I also haven’t seen many of my friends more than once since moving back to the U.K. three years ago.

Anyway, stay safe guys and it’s always nice to here from followers.

Feeling a lack of control

Roller Coaster

As a person, I crave several states of being and living: control, order, regime and to a degree, certainty. The problem which I am currently encountering is that a large proportion of these are not entirely within my own control.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a discussion with a person who having served for several years within the military they had now embarked upon a degree in a language, as a mature student and, like many undergraduates (even myself, back then), saw themselves as having a rosy future after graduation, so long as they made the effort to be successful. I remember pointing out that a degree doesn’t actually guarantee you anything, save for a sheet of paper and the entitlement to use a collection of letters after your name. It a may be a conduit to something else, but it’s no longer a case of a degree/masters/doctorate is a guarantee of employment and a more protected passage through life. Those things died out decades ago; I am currently not the only unemployed undergraduate I know of and I’m certainly not sitting on my metaphorical laurels (6 interviews in the last 14 days!)

Currently, my own journey feels rather like being on a fairground ride and I’ve always hated those. In the last few months, I have been messed around more than I care for. In fact, today I have been told to ‘Piss off, if I don’t like it’ by a school who having offered me a role at 20 hours a week, on a good hourly rate some three or four weeks ago suddenly went silent about a start date and face to face meeting. The director of this company then went to China on a business trip and no one answered phone calls, voicemail and email only managed to illicit a reply after 6 requests for an update. The school then re-advertised for online teachers for 4 hours a week and that this was the only reason I had been given the courtesy of a call today (the call was 18 late). I will refrain from naming and shaming the school, but they are based in Leeds and teach non-native English speakers, so anyone who reads this and is looking for TEFL work may get in touch if they wish clarification.

The Autism Act is designed to create a level playing field for those with autism. However, does it?

Reliance on legislation means that we need to make potential employers aware of our condition; which is something we may not wish to share. Once we have informed people of this fact, we cannot retract the knowledge or stigma which might be attached to anyone with any form of limitation.

The employer cannot reject a candidate specifically because of autism, but of two equal candidates, one on the spectrum and one not, well I’m not sure if that has a bearing on helping to make a difficult decision easier or not.

Personally, I’m not good at meeting a lot of people for the first time; it takes me a while to settle into an environment, this can be social or professional. Until this becomes familiar, I will being ‘masking’ and that requires a lot of energy to appear to be able to fit into a large group or appear to be making eye contact, i.e. NT behaviour. Therefore, an interview is a tough process for me and others on the spectrum in most cases; in very rare cases, I find people who I automatically can relate to, but this is rare – I recall once being interviewed by a fellow Goth for a role in a law firm, who I suspect was also on the Autistic Spectrum because we both got rather excited about music, club nights, festivals and so on, to the extent that I’m not sure that we discussed the role or my skill set relating to it the job for more than a few minutes out of an hour long interview.

The problem I have is that my desire for certainty, control, stability and all of the other external things I desire is that I can only control a small proportion of the equation. I can continue making applications, completing forms (which require a lot of energy from me), ¬†putting on a tie (I loathe wearing a tie), attending interviews, spending countless hours in interview preparation and research and so on. I’m just hopeful that the result will eventually turn to my favour.

To anyone else in the same position; I wish you the best of luck.