The World Reject Hole

Person falling into a big hole

Autism and Covid Lockdown: Impacts and the world reject hole

The statistics surrounding employment for autistic individuals are stark: only 3 in 10 autistic people have jobs, a figure that includes both full and part-time employment. Additionally, only 36% of autistic graduates secure employment within 15 months of graduation, a number that includes individuals who may be overqualified for their positions or lack the job stability of a permanent role (Buckland Report, Feb 2024).

While it is important to acknowledge that not all autistic individuals are able to work, and some find at least some of their needs met through various forms of day provision, the impact of unemployment on those who want to work but are unable to obtain employment can be extremely severe and devastating.

Autistic individuals often lack a robust support network, making them vulnerable to falling into what we call the ‘World Reject Hole’. This is a severe and long term mental health issue that can prove challenging to address and difficult to treat. Recognising the warning signs of someone on the brink of falling into this hole and taking proactive measures is far more effective than attempting to rescue them after they’ve already fallen in.

What is the ‘World Reject Hole’?

The World Reject Hole is a ‘hole’ that people fall into when they feel that the world has rejected them.

Rejection comes in many forms, they may struggle to make friends or face continual job rejections, leading them to feel disheartened and give up. They may withdraw and this may also extend to refusing to leave the house.

The problem is that the world around them then believe that these autistic people have simply rejected the world and have chosen to withdraw from it. It is extremely painful for those who care to watch someone give up and withdraw from the world.

The world reject hole is extremely difficult to get out of; it is extremely difficult to help someone in this position, partly because it looks like intractable anxiety.

All attempts at help are rebuffed with phrases like “Everyone looks at me when I go out”, “Nobody wants to employ autistic people”, “I am a freak”.

Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which attempts to give people a more positive outlook on life – to reframe thinking, is completely ineffective because to the autistic people the evidence points to their conclusions.

They have a point: throughout their life, their attempts at making friends have been rebuffed. They were bullied at school because they were different. They can point to statistics that say only 1/3 of autistic adults are in employment as evidence that employers are not interested in employing autistic people – and they are clearly in the 84% who will never get a job!

So why does the world think these autistic people have rejected the world? Well, for a start, their attempts at making friends are overlooked or dismissed and generally not recognised as such. This further exacerbates their sense of isolation.

This Vicious circle of world rejection is lack of understanding!

If autistic people cannot do the emotional reciprocity, (which is an essential part of social interaction), they can appear cold and uninterested in people. Those autistic people who cannot do social emotional reciprocity often find social interaction boring and pointless.

Additionally, people are baffled when autistic people do not share common interests and instead want to talk about things that most people do not find interesting at all such as how motorways are built, the beauty of a mathematical proof, or quantum physics, for example.

Many people who are not autistic do not understand when someone does not appear to be able to follow a conversation and instead go off on tangents that appear triggered by certain words and phrases. In fact, this often aggravates socially more able people and it may be perceived as rudeness.

The world does not understand when autistic people gain social satisfaction from shared activities, but have no desire to socialise further, such as going to the pub afterwards. Many autistic individuals dislike pubs altogether and may not recognise them as spaces crucial for forming and nurturing friendships. Even for those who can cope with the environment within a pub, they could find the social interaction boring and pointless.

The social and communication difficulties of autistic people make it difficult for them to build up a social network to help them through the tough times of life and to enjoy the easier times with them.

The problem is that the autistic people do not understand what is going on – and neither does the rest of the population.

This misunderstanding can lead autistic individuals to withdraw from social interactions, increasing their sense of isolation and eventually leading to more severe mental health issues.

Aspiedent can help

So far, nobody has really worked out how to help people who have fallen into the World Reject Hole. However, if they have not fallen in too far, we can support them to climb out by helping them to understand themselves and the world around them. We can also help the world around the autistic person understand them - something that significantly improves outcomes.

Prevention is much better than cure. A better understanding of why autistic people interact in the way they do is key to avoiding the misunderstandings that leads to someone falling into the world reject hole and being unable to find a way out.