I have recently been told by my employer that I sometimes respond sharply to my colleague, this is normally when I'm trying to do other tasks. I dont mean to be rude is this my Aspergers or am I rude I am trying to alter my behaviour but find it difficult.
Trog's quite right on this. I had a similar thing in work, when I'd undertake a stressful task and colleagues - seeing I was getting stressed - would then attempt to engage me in personal conversation. If was an attempt to relax me on their behalf, but they would be shocked when I'd snap back or be quite tart. The reality was that they were merely putting extra demands on an already overloaded system.
For me, it's all about processing. If I'm working, then I'm expending an awful lot of cognitive processing power on the task at hand. If you then try to speak to me amidst that, you're asking yet more of an already burdened system. So, I'm going to speak to you in the shortest possible way in order to minimise the time I spend under duress, so I can return my attention back to the task at hand. After all, bear-in-mind that we autistics are prone to 'monotropic attention', so it's unfair to expect us to engage in social interaction at the same time.
The problem is as Trog says - insomuch that the neurotypicals will then place value judgements on your behaviour - most likely negative value judgements - as opposed to seeing it as a processing of sensory data.
I suppose that's were you're going to have to try and explain things to your colleagues, as a 'PR' exercise or damage control. A useful analogy I sometimes use to explain autism is to imagine people as computers. I can do the same things as neurotypicals: I can cook, shop, drive, hold down a job, pay the bills etc. For them to do so in typical day-to-day life, lets say it takes them 10 different software packages operating simultaneously on the computer to do so. For me to do the same things, it takes maybe 30 or 40 programmes running simultaneously. It slows the computer down, results in more glitches, and you can practically hear the fan whirring away to cool down an ever-increasingly overloaded system, that's frequently on the verge of crashing!
Ask your colleagues what they think would happen if a computer already struggling on running 30 programmes simultaneously is then asked to load-up yet another one?
Yes, I like the computer analogy too.
The problem that I have switching tasks often feels like I have to decide which current apps I can shut down to save CPU power, save and close all of those, start the new apps that I need to use, then spend a while rearranging all the windows so that I can get at everything I need. During those seconds, nothing from the other person really reaches me; either I have to ask them to repeat what they said from the beginning, or a "stock answer" comes out of my mouth without me really noticing it. I have been in trouble quite a few times at work for saying "OK" to requests to take on another task and then having no recollection of making the agreement - it's like dismissing an annoying pop-up window; there's no conscious thought, just a reflex muscle memory that clicks the "OK" button to make it go away!
You're describing the inherent cost of context switching.
And of course, if the interruptions are nested too deeply, a stack overflow, resulting in a BSOD - otherwise known as a melt-down!.