Some background: I'm a diagnosed person with Asperger's syndrom (a high-function form of autism) who works at a smallish IT company (about 25 employees). My autism mainly manifests in diffulty in communications (both sends and receives) and difficulty with making and following schedules.
I have been working at this company for about 17.5 months now: 9 months on-the-job training and 8.5 months protection from firing (this period ends in november). The problem is that most of my projects so far have failed to succeed, whether they're internal products, demonstration versions or deliverable pieces. I've analysed what caused this, and in all of my projects, I've learned of the same 4 problems:
- a delay of up to an hour between arriving and when I first start in the morning, due to catching up on Twitter, my Stack Exchange history, my mails and any relevant IT blogs that posted overnight;
- General tendency to get distracted from my work when looking up how to write certain code, mainly through comments on blogposts and the SO sidebar;
- Being forced to rewrite parts of my code every few days because what I currently have does not work with the next part I need to write;
- Not properly testing all possible code paths, leading to untested code and inevitable crashes. We don't do unit testing because we don't have the time for it, and I doubt that I'll be able to persuade my company to do unit testing the proper way.
I notice the above problems in every project I do, to some extent, and can link them mostly back to my autism. I end up with code that has put way too much work into it, doesn't work properly and isn't delivered on time. I'm noticing some pretty strong signals from my boss that he is not happy with my performance (he constantly talks about "a big problem") and I'm worried that once my 9 months of protection are up, I'll be fired.
Out of my problems, part 1 and 2 often do help me in unforeseen ways, mainly because I remember what I read during these distractions rather well and can use it to support my coworkers with problems that they encounter. Part 3 is because I usually have to start from a general idea of what the application has to do, with someone else making a formal list of what is to be done while I'm starting. I also often find that what I made before is flawed in some way, and I end up working several hours to correct that, basically wasting the hours I spent on that part in the first place.
I struggled heavily with finding a job, spending almost 2 years of constantly looking for one and repeatedly getting turned down because of my Autism. When I apply to big companies (like a RealDolmen or a Cronos), they tell me that I should focus on small companies because they can be more flexible with employing me, while small companies tell me to focus on big companies because those have a more structured way of working that can support my special needs more structurally. The main reason my current company could even afford to hire me is because of multiple government subsidies from various national and regional departments.
I've done 3 internships: 1 with a national telco provider, one (paid) with the Special educational needs department of a major educational group and one with a subcompany of an international consultancy group. This is my first real job, and I'm making a mess of it. My coworkers need to spend too much time supporting me on my projects, negating the government benefits my company receives for employing me.
My current job is on loose bedding, and I'm suspecting it can no longer be salvaged. I'm concerned that, whatever my next job will be, I'll encounter these problems again. I also don't have a driver's license due to my autism (traffic is far too stressful for me, often even when I'm just on my bicycle), so I'm limited to whatever I can reach through public transport or on my bike. I already applied to most companies around, many of which don't bother responding, or already made their minds up about me once I mention my autism (which I have to, since it is relevant for how much support I need from the company and can get from the government).
i realize this starts to sound like a "I need advice post", so here's 2 questions I'm trying to solve:
- Is there a way to salvage my job?
- If I get fired and decide to continue job hunting, how can I fix those problems I mentioned above?
- I am also considering just staying of the job market and instead picking up writing. I already have most of the general story and world of a sci-fi book in my mind, and people have told me my writing quality is really good. Would pursuing a career as a writer be a plausible alternative to struggling on the job market?
I wanted to share a final update in case a prospective employer reads this when googling me and is put off by it.
Yes, I was right to assume I would be let go. A few days after I made this question, I got my 6 weeks notice. However, the reason that was cited was not "your performance is below an acceptable level". They said that in their eyes, I put a lot of effort into trying to making my code work, only to see it fail when I showed it to my manager.
The reason they gave was "we cannot offer you the guidance and support you need". Their company, and especially the development department, was just too small to be able to devote the resources to giving me a daily briefing. They tried to have another employee discuss my project with me on a daily basis, which worked quite well while it lasted, but in the end, it cost that other employee too much time to switch from his project to mine.
They did give me a positive reference in the end, and I used my 6 weeks notice period to work on the 4 problems stated above. they also said that a company that can give me the support they couldn't, for example a company that uses Agile programming methodology (which is based around these daily meetings), would probably be a better fit for me.