I was diagnosed with Asperger's around ten years ago, at the age of forty. Up until then I'd only heard occasional references to it, yet they all matched up with me so well that I felt I needed to find out for sure, so got a referral from my G.P.
And it was a revelation to me, discovering that I'm not just a bundle of random weirdness, but actually a very consistent specimen of the Asperger's species.
Partly why I've joined this forum is a phrase that's kept ringing in my head "Normal people scare me". For a long time I didn't know what it referred to, and yet, it really struck a chord. Not that I'm outwardly "scared", but certainly there's an underlying nervousness whenever I have to interact with anyone other than family or very close friends. And looking the phrase up, yes, I discover it's the name of a documentary film all about the Autistic spectrum.
And partly I'm here to confide in you, my fellow freaks. Because, underneath my calm, good-natured exterior I'm really quite angry and about the way I've been treated all my life. Constantly excluded from the normal social world; so often finding myself hated by people despite doing nothing (that I'm aware of) to trigger it; finding it very hard to fit into work environments. About the latter, it's almost comical the way that some companies preach a very accommodating ethic, yet they can be so unyielding when presented with Asperger's type behaviour. I work in IT, and a previous large company I worked for had a procedure where new software requirements were discussed round a table with the in-house clients. I'd just joined this software development team, so I was a newbie to the platform in question. My two fellow developers had years of experience. And yet I found myself being reprimanded for not "saying stuff" in the meetings. Reprimanded!!! How can that happen??? This newbie, trying his best to understand the requirements, which he hasn't seen until sitting there in the meeting, and trying to digest what the experienced developers are saying about how the requirements can be accommodated into the existing system. All this uses every modicum of my conscious focus. And yet I'm expected to say stuff as well??? To make useful remarks??? It even got to the stage where I found myself threatened with disciplinary action over it - which prompted my resignation. (And that really sucks, considering that my computer programming abilities were second to none).
Anyone might say "Why not just tell them you have Asperger's syndrome?" Well it's never been as simple as that. In fact, it's a lose-lose situation. If I tell them I have Asperger's then, yes, they'll be obliged to make special allowances. But the payback is that my personality, as seen by others, is lost. Everything I do will be scrutinised as "is that because he has Asperger's syndrome?" Going from being seen as just a weird person, I'm instead perceived as disabled ...a cripple. Little short of a "retard".
And that's also the strange irony with Asperger's... socially I am a "retard" (although not so much now, as I've learnt to adapt). But other skills I have are significantly superior to the average person's. I.e. my design skills; my spatial awareness; my ability to conceptualise 3-d structures in my mind, my ability to construct algorithms. Sorry, I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet, just to convey the fact that although I have deficiencies in some ways, I also have other abilities that more than compensate.
It angers me that I (we) have been forced to operate in a world that doesn't understand us, doesn't appreciate us, and to have to bend ourselves to fit into it. We shouldn't be seen as misfits. We should be proud members of our own Asperger's species. Because that's really what it amounts to - we are different to them, but very consistent among ourselves.
I certainly wouldn't want to be any other way. To be "normal" would mean being a completely different person, and losing the things about myself which I regards as most precious. What I'd like is to see Asperger's being more widely recognised and appreciated. Not as a disability, but instead as a respectable "differentness".
Hi - welcome aboard.
Your post reflects my experience in the workplace too. I'm a CEng but I've spent my life being used and abused by the NTs because of my Asperger's.
hello and welcome!
That's Mister Freak to you - oick! :-D.
So you have my sympathies, 100%.
Back in the days when I got my degrees, a time when most people would be excited about starting a career and earning big money, I was very reluctant to make that start. Despite my talent for the work itself, I knew that the social interaction side of work life would be a hard battle. And that was long before I'd even heard of "Asperger's syndrome". If I had known about it back then, I think it would have made a big difference. I'd have had advance warning about exactly which things I'd find difficult, so could have looked for opportunities that would better fit the Asperger's personality type. And I'd have found strength in knowing that I wasn't alone - not just a misfit in the wilderness. That's why it's so important that people with Asperger's get to know about it. Things in that way are certainly better nowadays for young people, but there's still a long, long way to go. Every IT company should know that the type of work they offer will attract Asperger's people. And they should be looking out for Asperger's behaviour in their staff, and be ready to offer support if they spot it. This observation is screamingly obvious, yet they still don't seem to have caught on yet.
Welcome. Pretty much most of what you said rings true from my own experience
Welcome to the forums.
I'm not a freak, a retard or a cripple. I don't like the terms and would never use them to refer to myself or others like me. I know what you mean, though - about how it makes you feel that they regard you.
I have an incredible drive and self-start mechanism so I've always preferred working on my own. The only real stress was dealing with other people's flakeyness, lies and poor managment that constantly breaks promises and company policies. I got sick of dealing with a bunch of incompetent chancers.
I could completely control everything else.
A huge part of my stress was doing an on-call rota with idiots. I could sort out any problem so I was always first contact as talking to the others was a waste of time - which meant I was effectivly on call 24/7/365.
If I didn't answer the work phone, it was impacting upon my pay, if I did, it was impacting on my health.
The wriinkle was we had a large, monthly productivity bonus so that their incompentence could cost ME money.
A no win situation.
To heavily paraphrase and amend the words of the great philosopher Sheldon Cooper:
”Normal types are the freaks on this forum.”
Welcome and enjoy the forum.
Who forced you to operate in a world that doesn’t understand you? In fact, who forces you to do anything against your will? And why are you so concerned about what people think of you? Are you saying you want to take away peoples right to think whatever they want? Why shouldn’t you be seen as a misfit? I know I am, in comparison to most of the world so I don’t argue with reality, I simply accept, I’m a misfit in regards to the general population and that actually pleases me, because I like who I am so it doesn’t matter to me what other people are like or what they think of me and I don’t want to be like them, because I’m not them and I accept that and I have got used to being different so now I actually like it.
And I’m a proud member of the human race, not just amongst my fellow aspies, but as a human being. People can’t help but recognise me because I tell them who I am, in terms of autism, and I show them who I am by how I live my life and because I help a lot of people, I’m always appreciated, until I upset them that is, but some people are funny like that, they have a lot of conditions, rules and judgements etc and I accept that and they don’t effect me even if they think they’re angry at me because I know they’re not, the anger is in them, it isn’t affecting me so how can it have anything to do with me? I manage to tell just about every person I come into contact with that I’m autistic and if I get chance I tell them what that means. I’ve opened many people up to a wider understanding of autism. Many of them say they would never have thought I was autistic but when I tell them about some of the traits etc, they say they can see it now and they’re really grateful that they now have a better understanding. Some of them find the subject almost as fascinating as me! Some don’t know what to say. I get all sorts of reactions but their reactions don’t matter, what matters is I’m doing my best to spread awareness in the best way I can just now ~ I share the information but I have no control over how someone will understand that or react to it, that’s their business, I’m not trying to control another person’s mind, I’m simply spreading awareness and understand and most of all, sharing the love and making connections
Can you be absolutely sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that they used and abused you because you have Asperger or could it maybe have been that in those situations you were unable to stand up for yourself?
If your theory is true, it would mean that they would use and abuse me as well but I can assure you, they wouldn't, so there’s a flaw in your theory.