Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

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IAFG
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby IAFG » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:13 am

You keep saying "in law" and "in law school" but you really mean "in life."

Geaux12
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Geaux12 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:29 am

IAFG wrote:You keep saying "in law" and "in law school" but you really mean "in life."


No, every one of his problems would be solved if he wasn't surrounded by neurotypical cisgender misogynistic capitalist football-loving alcohol-drinking conformist republican Houstonian fraternity men. In real life, he gets to choose each and every person he interacts with on a daily basis to make sure they are sufficiently counterculture.


This guy would be a hit on tumblr.

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cinephile
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby cinephile » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:52 pm

IAFG wrote:You keep saying "in law" and "in law school" but you really mean "in life."


Seriously.

You (OP) can't romanticize UPenn, because it's fun playing "what if" and thinking things might have been different otherwise, but these issues will come up everywhere because relating to others is just a part of life. Even if you had gone to Sarah Lawrence to get a masters in Marxist Feminist Theory, you'd have had trouble relating to people and connecting on a deeper level.

We all get along better and connect deeper with people with whom we have things in common, but we're still able to connect with randos from time to time. Like you mentioned earlier that you have to have something in common with people to have a conversation. Well, you have tons in common with your fellow law students. You all probably are living the same lifestyle, come from more or less the same backgrounds (generally), live in the same city, go to the same school, take the same classes, are roughly the same age, are human, like to drink, hate to work hard, etc. There are lots of people I don't particularly have anything in common with, but I like them when we're all drinking because then we have the alcohol in common. And that's life. Maybe someone else can weigh in, because I can't quite wrap my mind around this and what OP is saying.

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:50 pm

cinephile wrote:
IAFG wrote:You keep saying "in law" and "in law school" but you really mean "in life."


Seriously.

You (OP) can't romanticize UPenn, because it's fun playing "what if" and thinking things might have been different otherwise, but these issues will come up everywhere because relating to others is just a part of life. Even if you had gone to Sarah Lawrence to get a masters in Marxist Feminist Theory, you'd have had trouble relating to people and connecting on a deeper level.

We all get along better and connect deeper with people with whom we have things in common, but we're still able to connect with randos from time to time. Like you mentioned earlier that you have to have something in common with people to have a conversation. Well, you have tons in common with your fellow law students. You all probably are living the same lifestyle, come from more or less the same backgrounds (generally), live in the same city, go to the same school, take the same classes, are roughly the same age, are human, like to drink, hate to work hard, etc. There are lots of people I don't particularly have anything in common with, but I like them when we're all drinking because then we have the alcohol in common. And that's life. Maybe someone else can weigh in, because I can't quite wrap my mind around this and what OP is saying.


It's hard to explain, but no, it's not as easy as it sounds for someone like me. Also, forget the "same background" thing. My background is one-of-a-kind. I guess I can ask people "how are your classes going? What are you doing this summer?" That's about it. "Oh, I'm going to big law in Houston." What am I to say to that? I don't know anything about Houston. There's not a ton else to talk about with most of my classmates. If it was as easy as you say, I wouldn't ever have made this thread to begin with. I've also been a ton disengaged from most things in the law school during 2L due to depression, and I'm lucky I didn't totally flunk last semester.

Conversations with most people in law school tend to drop dead pretty quickly. I force out a few questions in my blunted affect voice about mundane things such as "how are your classes?" etc. And usually, if I'm not interested in the subject, my mind processes too slowly to be able to think of good follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. Also, perceived lack of energy and interest--due to my blunted affect, sensory overload, and slow processing speed-- probably causes them to want to end the conversation too.

To give an idea of how not easy it is, let me post the new DSM V criteria for ASD, bolding the ones I officially meet:

A. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts, not accounted for by general developmental delays, and manifest by all 3 of the following:
1. Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity; ranging from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back and forth conversation through reduced sharing of interests, emotions, and affect and response to total lack of initiation of social interaction,
2. Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction; ranging from poorly integrated-verbal and nonverbal communication, through abnormalities in eye contact and body-language, or deficits in understanding and use of nonverbal communication, to total lack of facial expression or gestures.
3. Deficits in developing and maintaining relationships, appropriate to developmental level (beyond those with caregivers); ranging from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit different social contexts through difficulties in sharing imaginative play and in making friends to an apparent absence of interest in people

B. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities as manifested by at least two of the following:
1. Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements, or use of objects (such as simple motor stereotypies, echolalia, repetitive use of objects, or idiosyncratic phrases);
2. Excessive adherence to routines, ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior, or excessive resistance to change; (such as motoric rituals, insistence on same route or food, repetitive questioning or extreme distress at small changes);
3. Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (such as strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests);
4. Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of environment; (such as apparent indifference to pain/heat/cold, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, fascination with lights or spinning objects).


See, a lot of the things people talk about here as "suggestions" are things pretty inherent to ASD itself. I had a quarter of a century to change these behaviors before getting diagnosed, and it didn't happen. So I don't expect it to change overnight according to someone's blithe suggestion such as "hey, ask people questions about themselves, and be an active listener. People love talking about themselves." If it were that easy, I wouldn't be here. What people don't realize that issues with using nonverbal communication (contrary to stereotyp, I don't have major issues with understanding it, just using it) works strongly against so-called "active listening." And yeah, I'm taking an acting class to try to fix some of it.

Anyway, given that a lot of these things are not attitude problems and are not going to change, am I just wasting my time in law school?

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laxbrah420
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby laxbrah420 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:15 pm

If you'd drop out, what would you do?

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:16 pm

laxbrah420 wrote:If you'd drop out, what would you do?


No idea. Is that a reason not to drop out if law is very unsuitable?

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby cinephile » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:21 pm

Perseus_I wrote:
Anyway, given that a lot of these things are not attitude problems and are not going to change, am I just wasting my time in law school?



Well first, I'm not a therapist. And I don't have ASD. And I imagine a lot of other people posting in this thread are just regular people trying to advise someone with things that have worked for them - just assuming you're a regular person who is socially isolated because the law school environment isn't what you wanted (which is something I can understand). But that's not the case for you - you're not just socially isolated in law school, you're socially isolated in general. You need a therapist who is experienced with dealing with ASD to advise you, no one here can do that. Also, every single thing you've mentioned has been a LIFE issue. This isn't law school. You will run into these things time and time again in every aspect of life. Dropping out of law school isn't going to change things for you.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Scotusnerd » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:32 pm

I have a lot of trouble reading people and picking up nonverbal cues. I found this book incredibly helpful to help decode social interactions:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Definitive-Book-Body-Language/dp/0553804723/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1366752622&sr=8-2&keywords=body+language

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Geaux12 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:36 pm

Serious question (that I don't feel like googling):


What are the social cues I hear so much about, that some people are unable to decipher? Can you give me a few examples? Is it stuff like "this person clearly isn't interested in what I'm saying but I don't notice her body language so I keep talking"?

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Scotusnerd » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:15 pm

Yeah that's pretty much it. A fair bit of human communication is nonverbal. That book explains it in a lot more detail than I can here. Reading body language is a skill. A lot of people instinctively pick up on it, but some (like me) don't. I have to consciously make myself aware of it and watch carefully, and (more importantly) watch my own body language as well.

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IAFG
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby IAFG » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:21 pm

Perseus_I wrote:
laxbrah420 wrote:If you'd drop out, what would you do?


No idea. Is that a reason not to drop out if law is very unsuitable?

Bro, life is unsuitable for you. You are going to have to work hard to overcome this in any field. I am sure it would feel good to blame your problems on law types, but can't you see that is just you rationalizing away your issues? You are in denial.

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:05 pm

Geaux12 wrote:Serious question (that I don't feel like googling):


What are the social cues I hear so much about, that some people are unable to decipher? Can you give me a few examples? Is it stuff like "this person clearly isn't interested in what I'm saying but I don't notice her body language so I keep talking"?


I'm honestly not sure either. I don't know if I miss a ton of social cues or not. How does one know what he or she doesn't know? Interesting question.
Last edited by Perseus_I on Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

09042014
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby 09042014 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:34 pm

Perseus_I wrote:
Geaux12 wrote:Serious question (that I don't feel like googling):


What are the social cues I hear so much about, that some people are unable to decipher? Can you give me a few examples? Is it stuff like "this person clearly isn't interested in what I'm saying but I don't notice her body language so I keep talking"?


I'm honestly not sure either. I don't know if I miss a ton of social cues or not. Certainly, in the clinical context, including at a so-called "social skills" group, this has not come up. I am certainly aware of missing some nonverbal cues due to attention deficit issues, but I think this is rare; others may disagree.

What has come up multiple times is my inability to use nonverbal communication. My sensory processing disorders make it look like I'm falling asleep all the time (sensitivity to light causes squinting) and have no energy or emotion. There's an intangible emotional/energy thing that I supposedly lack. Which causes a lack of emotional reciprocity. Actually, when I talk to people, I end up carrying far too much of the conversation because I don't send off cues that other people are used to seeing, so I tend to buckle under the strain and need to end the conversation. Like I said, I don't have Asperger's Syndrome, though it's close; I have PDD-NOS with traits of Newson Syndrome. So my surface appearance is better than someone with Asperger's Syndrome, but my deficits in empathy, identity awareness, attention, mood stability, and forming bonds with others are far worse than they would be for someone with Asperger's Syndrome. My issues also love to change shape, move, and hide to the extent that getting help for them is very difficult. Thus, I don't think changing is very viable at this point since my condition is very poorly understood, especially in the U.S. I think I need a more suitable environment. I have had more suitable environments in the past, but the best of these was in a foreign country with an introverted culture.

I think it's worse in the legal field simply because (1) more loud people go to law school than in some other fields and (2) the job market in law is worse than it is in other fields, so there is less tolerance of quirks.



I think your (1) is definitely not true. Law is pretty solidly on the introvert side of things. I mean engineering/science and accounting may be more accounting, but damn near everything else will be worse for you.

And the economy sucks for everyone.

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:50 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
Perseus_I wrote:
Geaux12 wrote:Serious question (that I don't feel like googling):


What are the social cues I hear so much about, that some people are unable to decipher? Can you give me a few examples? Is it stuff like "this person clearly isn't interested in what I'm saying but I don't notice her body language so I keep talking"?


I'm honestly not sure either. I don't know if I miss a ton of social cues or not. Certainly, in the clinical context, including at a so-called "social skills" group, this has not come up. I am certainly aware of missing some nonverbal cues due to attention deficit issues, but I think this is rare; others may disagree.

What has come up multiple times is my inability to use nonverbal communication. My sensory processing disorders make it look like I'm falling asleep all the time (sensitivity to light causes squinting) and have no energy or emotion. There's an intangible emotional/energy thing that I supposedly lack. Which causes a lack of emotional reciprocity. Actually, when I talk to people, I end up carrying far too much of the conversation because I don't send off cues that other people are used to seeing, so I tend to buckle under the strain and need to end the conversation. Like I said, I don't have Asperger's Syndrome, though it's close; I have PDD-NOS with traits of Newson Syndrome. So my surface appearance is better than someone with Asperger's Syndrome, but my deficits in empathy, identity awareness, attention, mood stability, and forming bonds with others are far worse than they would be for someone with Asperger's Syndrome. My issues also love to change shape, move, and hide to the extent that getting help for them is very difficult. Thus, I don't think changing is very viable at this point since my condition is very poorly understood, especially in the U.S. I think I need a more suitable environment. I have had more suitable environments in the past, but the best of these was in a foreign country with an introverted culture.

I think it's worse in the legal field simply because (1) more loud people go to law school than in some other fields and (2) the job market in law is worse than it is in other fields, so there is less tolerance of quirks.



I think your (1) is definitely not true. Law is pretty solidly on the introvert side of things. I mean engineering/science and accounting may be more accounting, but damn near everything else will be worse for you.

And the economy sucks for everyone.


Ok, then is it just my school?

09042014
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby 09042014 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:51 pm

You may just have a poor understanding of what the average person in the world is like.

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby spleenworship » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:45 pm

Desert Fox wrote:You may just have a poor understanding of what the average person in the world is like.


This. Virtually everyone at my school is an introvert. Just because they aren't socially awkward doesn't mean they aren't introverts.

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Scotusnerd » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:55 pm

I've noticed a large population of introverts and people you can push around at my law school. Sure, there are some loudmouths, but most of them are just along for the ride.

Worry less about what's getting you down, and worry more about how to solve it. It is not an impossible dilemma.

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:00 pm

Hmmm...well, maybe I don't know the difference between pretentiousness, assertiveness, and extroversion. I certainly have been around. And law students at my school are--I don't have a better word--ostentatious. Is this the same thing as extroverted? Maybe not.

I tend to conflate all four, perhaps.

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alicrimson
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby alicrimson » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:46 pm

I read that you've seen a therapist, what about a psychiatrist? Seriously, if you have a chemical imbalance, drugs might be the route to go. Modern science is a phenomenal thing and meds have tremendously helped me, personally, in many ways. Maybe it's an area you could explore?

09042014
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby 09042014 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:25 am

OP study tax law bro.

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:53 am

Desert Fox wrote:OP study tax law bro.


Yes, actually that might be my fallback option. I have an interest in it for sure and did well in FIT. I already got an offer from a Big 4 International Tax without an accounting background last fall and turned it down for a fed agency 2L summer. Stupid decision? Maybe.

I wasn't sure I could do well at it, though, due to a visual processing impairment that I have nearly successfully fixed through biofeedback training (yay!); I didn't know this could be done. Was expected to pick up lots of accounting principles on the job because being on law review supposedly made me "smart"; actually, I had very slow processing for visual information and a visual memory in the 6th percentile (yay Nonverbal Learning Disorder!) until I did therapy for it, which has had great results after several months.

Given that I now have a greater ability to learn stuff like this, and have improved my sensory integration issues which would have posed a huge difficulty at that Big 4 job, what would I need to do to switch gears again if I don't get permanently hired from my 2L summer agency job?

It seemed X Big 4 had tons on individuals on the spectrum and tons of foreigners who wouldn't know how to judge me. I just wasn't sure I could do the work.
Last edited by Perseus_I on Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:54 am

alicrimson wrote:I read that you've seen a therapist, what about a psychiatrist? Seriously, if you have a chemical imbalance, drugs might be the route to go. Modern science is a phenomenal thing and meds have tremendously helped me, personally, in many ways. Maybe it's an area you could explore?


Don't get me started. The problem is, people on the spectrum--including me--have an excess of serotonin, so SSRI's cause Serotonin Syndrome. Been there, done that, will never do it again.

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PDaddy
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby PDaddy » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:57 am

Perseus_I wrote:I am a 2L who failed firm OCI (not due to numbers but due to "flat affect" / lack of voice inflection -- something I've since fixed) and was then diagnosed with a type of high-functioning autism (slightly different from Asperger's/less weird). I ended up getting something with one of the federal agencies that hires out of law school, but I'm feeling very unengaged in all my classes (even by 2L standards). The main reason is I don't have any close friends and so feel isolated and like I don't belong in this profession at all. Isn't it all about networking?

I've been working with an acting teacher to polish my external social skills, quite successfully, but I'm still not able to connect with others in a meaningful way, and this may be a permanent condition. There isn't the type of support for students with disabilities that there is with other "minorities."

So is there even a type of law in which I can be successful long-term? Is it even worth it to stay in law school if I don't have debt to pay off?



Good move taking acting classes. Maybe you'll wind up being an actor and a damn good one. Many of the best are shy and introverted, but carry an intensity directors just love. And a great actor can make more money than the best attorneys only dream of.

Aside from that, theater is a great form of therapy. I can't offer you any advice on your other question, but I want to wish you good luck! :wink:

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:25 pm

To summarize:
1. Get on anti-depression medication.
2. Stop blaming other people for your own social anxiety.
3. See a psychologist/therapist. Pretty cool decision on the acting coach, btw. Look into organizations like Toastmasters International for practicing public speaking (which I find adds to social skills generally).
4. Most people at law school are introverted.
5. Practice a few good opening remarks in a conversation and follow up comments. You mentioned not knowing anything about Houston. Maybe ask the person "Do you have family in Texas.", "What's Houston like? I have never been."

Don't dropout OP. The problems you described are manageable. But you do need to act and get off TLS and start moving on the various suggestions made to you here. Talking about how to overcome a problem is useless in solving the problem unless you act. Best of luck.




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