Self inventory of skills

A useful tool

I fell on the idea of a skills self inventory when I was in my middle 30’s. I had never given much thought to
my mindset, my skills, my abilities, the things I had learned in previous years and previous jobs, etc.

I decided I needed to go get a job when my children were in school for most of the day, and found a book called ” What color is your parachute”.
There have been many versions of this book over the years. In the front of the book it helps you find your strengths and weaknesses and gives you an idea of the kinds of jobs you are suited for. The back section is dedicated to the ins and outs of actually job hunting. ( I am only concerned with the front section today)
I did the exercises in the book faithfully and found that I had much better understanding of myself after completing the exercises. I had never really thought much about my abilities or skills, and this helped me see many facets of myself that I had never suspected. ( remember this was 30 years before I knew about my autism).
The “homework” that made the most difference to me in terms of self confidence, self understanding, and general self knowledge (something I think many autistic people struggle with) was a skills self inventory.

The project was meant to help you see what you can do. It asks the participant to list everything we know how to do. This includes basic skills as well as those we have been highly trained for or that we are most adept at. I started my list chronologically, from the earliest memories of learning how to do something on through my most recent experiences. I listed the ability to walk and talk and do toilet things, to self dress, to do self care such as washing myself, combing my hair, etc…. I got super specific… if you do this you might be very specific too. I listed everything I could remember that I learned in school, how to read and write, how to play certain games, how to do arts and crafts… how to play a musical instrument, how to cook, how to clean…. on and on and on. I listed everything I could remember learning. How to use specific tools, how to type and file, how to give myself a home permanent and cut my own and other’s hair. How to carve leather, how to change a fuse… everything I had learned I tried to think of and write down. It took days! I had pages and pages when I finished.

It took just a short while to recognize that I could learn, that I had learned a great deal over the years… and the self inventory gave me insights about what I was best at, what I liked to do the most, etc etc.

I tried to share this revelation with others, but most of them already knew… yeah yeah, skills inventory and aptitude tests for school… so blase… did they do aptitude tests when I was in school? I think maybe they did. I remember getting results telling me I should be a forest ranger or a jeweler/watchmaker. I remember them telling me I should go to college. ??????? How did they come up with those suggestions?

Evidently I had missed a lot that others picked up on . Story of an autistic life, right???

That self inventory gave me better self understanding than my communication skills therapy had at age 30..( although those skills saved my life and were essential to life as I now know it).

I was much more confident of being able to learn new skills and being able to cope with new situations after doing a very complete and detailed inventory of the things I had already learned.

We hear so much about ‘disability’ and so much seems to be focused on “what we can’t do”.
Do a self inventory in these days when many of us seem to have extra time to fill while waiting for the current world health situation to evolve…. if you have never done a detailed self inventory, listing everything you know and know how to do… I suggest that you might view yourself differently after compiling such a list.

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