I am on track to receive my Ph.D formally this April or May, depending on university paperwork processing. The dissertation is done, approved by my adviser, and only minor edits remain. The university bureaucracy is certainly navigable, though it is essential to have extra copies of every form on file.
Now, I am on the job market as a "Ph.D Pending" (dissertation submitted).
As I have previously stated, I am exiting most autism-related research after this academic year. I will continue to write and express my own views, but I have no interest in focusing the next 20 or more years of my life on autism. The debates, mistrust, and even hatred are too much for me to tolerate.
The universities with which I have interviewed are hiring writing, new media, and visual design professors. One post includes the potential of teaching a graphical novel seminar, while another is primarily theatre and "rhetoric of performance" in media studies.
In a tough, competitive job market, it is good to have interviews with universities willing to consider me for something beyond autism and cognitive development. I realize how difficult it can be to change specialties in academic settings. Thankfully, I have a history of creative writing and media experiences, outside universities.
I'm learning that what you do is as important as a degree. Work experience can be equal to a degree specialty. That's good news, at least for me.
In a few weeks, hopefully by the end of January, I'll have any in-person interviews scheduled. If I do land at a teaching post I'll be sure to explain where and what I will be doing in the future.
When I speak to students, teachers, and parents, I emphasize that we should not let any disability define us. We are shaped by our limits, but we do not have to embrace them as crutches or badges of honor. I do not want to be known as the "high-functioning" literacy expert. I want to be known as a writer and professor apart from my physical traits.
That's one reason to broaden my academic role beyond autism. It was starting to define me.