I'm a teacher on the autism spectrum, or suspected autism spectrum, and I want advice

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I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder shortly before I received my master's degree. 

I went to school to become a teacher and did pretty well in college, but I'm finding out that the job is a lot more difficult than I thought it was. Even at a relatively good school, I've found ways to struggle. 

At this particular place, I couldn't figure out how to teach the curriculum. I didn't understand the lesson plans (it was only seventh grade English), and I often prepared and taught lessons that were probably over the students' heads. I also didn't use proper engagement techniques. They eventually put an aide in the classroom with me and gave her all of the teaching responsibilities. I feel terrible about all of this. Here I am with a master's degree, and I can't do my job. What is wrong with me? 

This and other failed employment experiences make me wonder if I could ever be gainfully employed at all. I sometimes just don't know how to relate to people. I'm afraid or unsure how to ask questions in training situations, so I miss the information I need. I'm not always sure how to explain things so that they are less complicated. I basically fail at every "soft skill" a person needs to hold down a good job and be successful. 

 I especially don't know how to deal with people who are going through trouble, like broken homes, sick parents, prolonged illness, etc. 

If anyone has any advice, I would appreciate it. 

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    Perhaps I should clarify. I wasn't having trouble with the subject; I was having trouble understanding what I was supposed to teach, as I couldn't really understand the pacing guide. 

  • Posted

    Anyway, I'm just looking for something someone like me can do. I put a lot of time, money, and effort into becoming certified as a teacher, only to find out it's not really a job I can do. 

  • Posted

    Hi knd39079

    I can relate to your situation and feelings.  I have a Master's Degree in music and thought I should take up an offering to teach junior high school.  It was the biggest mistake that I do not regret.  In the 4 years I stayed on there, I gained a lot of experience in dealing with people and loved working with the kids, but my biggest trouble was connecting with other staff members.  I tried my best to relate to them and offer my help, but they just did not take me seriously.  In part, I think the bad experience was due to their horrible attitude towards people in general (I was not the first to experience this).

    Why do I not regret my mistake?  I discovered that I love working with individuals, rather than groups - I am terrible with groups.  I struggle with anxiety and completely shut down to cope with it, which was really bad for trying to manage a class full of teenagers.  In the end I resigned and joined a business that offers individual piano lessons and I get to manage part of the business as well, which I discovered that I loved doing while working as a teacher.

    So, maybe stick it out for as long as you can to learn and grow and find your true talent.  Teaching teaches the teacher more about himself than anything else.

  • Posted

    I can relate to this, and thought I'd never find a job that I'd be able to do (despite my English Lit and Philosophy degree).

    I've found that I need more time than most people to grasp practical skills. However, I've learnt to manage with the help of certain techniques (for example, a detailed check-sheet to overcome my short attention span). It's definitely possible to overcome shortcomings if you can find the right tools.

    Perhaps you could make it your project to learn about lesson planning, and use ready-made resources until you are comfortable with the technique. Test out lessons on any family members/friends who you know will be honest with you. Think of them as presentations, and plan relevant activities/exercises throughout to keep the children engaged. Ensure you've also prepared variations on the plans in case the lesson takes longer/shorter than expected.

    If none of this works out you could consider a different age group. Maybe you'd do better lecturing at university (to students who actually want to learn)/teaching adult courses/ teaching A-Levels.

    Good luck!


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