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.
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.
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.
I thought you said you didn’t want to tell them you’re autistic? I’m confused now
How do you honestly expect people to treat you if you treat them as if they’re flakey, liars, idiots and incompetent? If you know you can do things a better way, why not be kind and share your knowledge? Why not be compassionate and see that these people are tortured with the lies they tell and how it makes them incompetent to the degree they can barely do their jobs? Why not be understanding and accept that they see, hear and experience the world in a completely different way to you and because you’re aware of it, and they’re not, why not insist that some sort of base level understanding is reached between you and them otherwise it’s going to be very difficult for you to get on at work and they would miss out on a really great employee?
Life is a much more pleasant experience when you can accept people’s differences instead of labelling them as idiots, liars, incompetent etc etc. They may be different, but they’re still human beings with hearts and souls and mothers and daughters etc etc, they just experience the world in a different way to us. It doesn’t make them wrong and us right, we’re just different.
Where have I ever said I treat people badly? Just because I'm good at spotting the liars, the BS and the incompetent, doesn't mean I don't play nice.
Do you honestly think you can treat somebody with genuine love, kindness and compassion if you are holding onto the belief that they’re liars, they talk BS and they’re incompetent?
Do you really think that by being dishonest and pretending to be nice you are going to illicit genuine affection, trust, loyalty, kindness, understanding and a good connection that will develop into a good relationship?
It sounds like life is a game to you and one in which all is fair in love and war and that it’s perfectly acceptable to be dishonest and lie to people and put on a ‘nice’ front. Why is it ok for you to be a liar and to be dishonest and put on a front and it’s not ok for them?
It sounds like when people are around you, they honour you and get in on the game and play you at your own game. I bet they’re nice to other people who are being genuinely nice to them.