Friday, April 19, 2013

Autism and Working from Home

This semester, I've been working from home on research and projects. That means no driving to campus, no teaching, and no interacting with colleagues on a daily basis. I still respond to email, and I send a few notes, but most of my time is spent alone in my comfy recliner with my MacBook Pro and the television tuned to CNBC or one of the educational channels.

I like this arrangement. Working at home is ideal — something I'd love to do permanently. As a writer, that would be pretty great.

Though I enjoy teaching, my wife and I both notice that I'm doing much better without having to navigate the workplace. I might miss the classroom, but at the moment I'm not missing anything else about the workplace.

My wife also telecommutes. We're both introverts. People exhaust us. I'm positive we're both more productive at home.

I work well alone. Give me a task, leave me alone, and I can (sometimes) focus better than in an office. There are distractions (cats), but I work more hours at home. I can spend ten hours on projects, with the hours split into any blocks I need.

There are days when I need to start later. There are days when I need to take a walk or go skating. If I take a two hour break in the morning, it doesn't matter. As long as I work a few hours later, I'm still doing at least eight hours of work.

Is this an "autism" thing, or simply an introvert thing? I don't know. What I know is that I don't miss the constant anxiety I felt in an office. Commuting was sometimes difficult, too, but not as bad as being in the beehive.

As a playwright, I can't sit at home all the time. I do have to work with other people. But, the schedule is not 9-to-5 and the process is unlike any office work. One thing I really love about theater: it is an afternoon and evening job. Part of what I dislike about most jobs are the difficult morning hours. I really hate mornings.

I have no idea what I'll be doing in a few months, or a few years. I dream of being a full-time writer, able to set my own hours and select when I work with other people. But, financial realities mean I'll be doing something else until I manage to write the next Broadway smash.

There is also the possibility that my next workplace is a great fit for me. The relief I'm feeling now might not be because I'm alone, but because my cats are ideal coworkers. Especially Misty and Lucy, since they like laps.

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