Asperger's and IT

Somewhere on the autistic spectrum or just interested in joining the discussion? Let's talk

This topic was created by JudeKay .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

My former boss probably could check quite a few boxes on Hare's checklist. Lying, manipulating, superficiality, charming, impulsive, risk seekers, big ego, dominant,... you name it. Quite the opposite from Aspies. Now I understand why they want to become CEO's.

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Trollface

Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

So THAT'S who's on the other side of the bell curve...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

Yup, I figured that out about 15 years after starting work...

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Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

@dogged: so you like the BOFH also ??

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Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

Nah, misanthropy is too easy to fake. Lots of wannabes toddling around, full of fake angst.

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Anonymous Coward

People are different. Thank goodness.

I've worked with people who have (or I think probably have) ASDs and their characteristics are exactly as described in the article. Is it a problem?

No.

It isn't a problem because if you are building a team (even an informal one) then you need people with different characteristics to give it a dynamic. If you know about Belbin Profiles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Role_Inventories) then you'll know that you build a team with a mix of different characteristics that look after different functions of the team. So somebody with an ASD might be a Plant or Specialist, but you would balance that out with a Co-ordinator or Monitor Evaluator.

If EVERYBODY on the team is just a Specialist or a Co-ordinator (for example) then nothing will get done. You have to have the right mix. And Belbin profiles also acknowledge that some types of people are just crap at doing certain types of role.. and that's OK as long as they are good at something.

If I think back to all the great teams that I've been in, they are exactly like that. People argue, get upset, get over-ruled, but at the end of the day it all falls into place and everyone has a drink afterwards and laughs about it :)

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Re: People are different. Thank goodness.

AC, spot on. The best teams I worked in had at times an eclectic mix, but achieved the team tasks well. Interestingly, we got on well, perhaps the aspies knew they needed the non-aspies. To their credit, the team leaders and their bosses recognised this and accepted some of us were unusual socially.

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Anonymous Coward

The secret to life with Aspergers...

Oh my god Wowfood, You sound like me in 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th grades until they beat it into me that I don't know more than the teacher (even though I did).

My old man (an engineer) taught me trigonometry, the unit circle and various types of algebra when I was in 4th grade for "fun" but I kept getting in arguments with the teacher because she did not believe that I had memorized the various decimal values of Sine, Cosine and Tangents for 90, 45, 30, 60 degree angles. They wanted me to use radicals rather than decimals.

So she kept failing me for "not showing the work" when anyone in their "right mind" would/should know that the sine of 45 degrees was .7071. She said that's not correct and I dared her to show me why. When she could not, off to the principal I went. Trouble is that I was doing things the right way as they were done in industry not school. This is pre calculator late 60's early 70's and there was no medical excuse to hide behind.

Had to get the old man to come in and read them the riot act, "If the answer is correct then who cares how he gets there?" Long story short, I now hate math and have a block against it because of that damn teacher.

Finally I figured out it was better to act dumb and be "popular" than to be smart and be criticized.

I got the first 64 multiple guess questions right on an English Regents exam and got accused of cheating, part because of my long hair and who cares attitude and mostly for being a "smart ass know it all"

I still am today but most people I have worked with soon see that I am seldom incorrect.

AND guess what, I am in the highly technical field of Building Automation. Two courses of Dale Carnegie gave me enough knowledge and confidence to be in technical sales where I do have to work with people, thankfully, most of those people have some form of Aspergers/ADDH so we have an understanding.

The real secret to it all is you really are more intelligent than "average" people and the way to deal with that is to understand that people generally are assholes. Now I know to "Eff 'em if they can't take a joke."

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Aspergers and IT

I have worked with people at various levels on the autistic spectrum, from supporting somebody who is highly autistic and has complex needs, to working alongside people with Aspergers and in the higher functioning levels of the spectrum. I currently work for a learning disabilities and autism support charity and see the full range of the spectrum in colleagues and the people we support.

As SAP have found, people in the higher functioning autistic spectrum range are often very good in IT roles, can develop the interpersonal skills, usually if the lack of these skills is presented with solutions using logic. It is often a comforting environment to be in, based on logic as most IT systems essentially are.*

People who might struggle to hold down a job in other industries can excel in tech roles.

* IT that doesn't involve convoluted GUIs and endless bloat, a la Microsoft. (In memory of Eadon) ;-)

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Unhappy

Re: Aspergers and IT

Speaking of Eadon, Aspergers, and prejudices, perhaps Aaron Milne could put a word in with the editors?

Eadon's basically been banned and all his posts deleted because he didn't know when to shut up. (he has Aspergers)

I miss him, I actually do!

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Happy

Re: Aspergers and IT

Eadon did know when to shut up. He didn't care. That's the difference; being an Aspie isn't a get out of Jail free card. When you keep on keeping on despite multiple warnings then you are making a choice consciously that cannot be excused by any position on the Autism spectrum.

I have some pretty bad ADHD - itself on the autism spectrum - even though I am somewhat high functioning. It has given me a sympathy for Aspies that has lead to many friendships which I hold very dear. Aaron among them.

Despite this, I have no sympathy for Eadon. He made a conscious choice to berate, belittle, use ad homenim attacks and push far beyond the repeatedly defined boundaries of acceptable behaviour. I have no problems with his being reinstated to personhood as a general concept, but such would have to be accompanied by a "come to Jesus"-class discussion about boundaries and a firm agreement on his part to abide by them.

If my read on the matter is correct - that he knowingly and purposefully chose to blow past the lines of acceptable behaviour - then such agreement would not be possible. Being an Aspie can make recognizing boundaries difficult, but it does not preclude the person from just being a douchy troll.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aspergers and IT

Being unable to concentrate on something else, does not mean you have to call people names. So I'd guess Eadon was not doing the things he did for a medical reason. However, he could have been banned for unrelated posts (no idea, but the mods would know).

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Unhappy

Re: Aspergers and IT

"Eadon did know when to shut up. He didn't care. That's the difference; being an Aspie isn't a get out of Jail free card."

Interesting point. You wonder to what extent the condition controls their behavior and their behavior controls the condition.

I once had a co-worker who appeared to be bipolar. His effect on the staff around him (and his manager) was quite devastating. Wouldn't sit down, wouldn't shut up, no empathy etc.

I've always wondered if you could treat the symptoms and keep them under control who would be the personality underneath? How much of that character were simply his symptoms and how much him?

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Being an Aspie and working in validation is interesting. I produce test harness code that is very detail oriented and functional, but not always as broadly covering or as fast as desired. My manager has teamed me up with another programmer that codes fast and loose, covering a lot of ground but with unhandled codepaths, or other 'features'. I take the code over once he's blazed the trail and re-factor, clean up, complete, and close paths. Together we produce code that is orders of magnitude better than either of us could do alone.

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Anonymous Coward

How to Win Friends and Influence People

It is entirely possible to learn small talk. (By which I mean the form of social pleasantries as human interaction, rather than the dynamically typed OO programming language).

In fact, many people are not born with the skill naturally and have to develop confidence through learning. That is not to demean the effect of Asbergers and similiar conditions. However, I wonder if those with milder symptoms may benefit from taking a more analytical approach to social interactions?

Take a look at an old classic - Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. It truly does set out a methodology for small talk. This book comes from an author who (in the context of his time) understood personal anxiety - another of his books is called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

Of course, remembering social interactions is still tricky for many people. I have a colleague who remembers the details of everyone's life - she is truly well liked. In her case it is natural. In my case, I try to keep a written diary of people I meet and important personal details about them so that I can build my relationships with them over time. If you know you are going to meet Joe Bloggs today, a quick check of what he was up to when you last met him is all you need to give you a great conversation opener. A personal CRM, as it were. Most people would find this too structured; but to those who crave structure and logic, this is nirvana.

We are sometimes so resigned to our own faults that we fail to turn the skills that we have to our own situation. Weaknesses can become strengths with surprisingly little effort.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How to Win Friends and Influence People

"It is entirely possible to learn small talk."

Tell that to the Germans.

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I wondered if I was alone in the world and it looks like I am in a way

Id give you all a compliment for your very enjoyable [is that the right context?] posts but I know how awkward that would make you feel now please can you all get out of my head.Yes one has to get used to "difficult" moments when your the only one in the room that doesn't seem to understand the joke or the times you have to listen in bored silence to a rambling co-worker because it would be seen to improve team work.

When you have to do something a mangers way even though you know its going to end badly and you will still get the blame.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wondered if I was alone in the world and it looks like I am in a way

This one's not a real Aspie. His post is full of punctuation and grammar mistakes.

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Meh

Re: I wondered if I was alone in the world and it looks like I am in a way

"When you have to do something a mangers way even though you know its going to end badly and you will still get the blame."

That's nowt to do with autism, autism just makes the situation more annoying.

Emotionally, the best way to deal with this is to stop giving a fuck, do as you're told and remember that if you did it the manager's way, it's the manager's fault if it fucks up. I dunno if all workplaces breed that attitude but mine certainly does*. The downside is that it's still you picking up the pieces. You'll find that fighting the autistic compulsion to Do It Right™ will be a considerable barrier to this.

Assuming you're in an office environment, try to get the manager's instructions in some sort of written form (even an email will do) so you've got somet' to back you up when it goes down the pan. You'll need to be subtle about getting it in writing (like "Can you email me that so I don't forget about it." while you're looking busy) as people who can manipulate themselves into management roles are usually good at detecting when someone's trying to stitch them up.

Welcome to office politics, the most effective means of reducing an organisation's efficiency.

*I think I've actually swung too far away from Do It Right™ as this isn't my lunch break...

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Re: I wondered if I was alone in the world and it looks like I am in a way

"Welcome to office politics, the most effective means of reducing an organisation's efficiency."

I feel quite depressed having to agree, but... yeah, I agree with everything you wrote. :(

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ASD

My five year old has recently been diagnosed with ASD. We were very clearly told that (in Buckinghamshire at least) Aspergers diagnosis are no longer given, only a broader ASD diagnosis. Seems a bit weird to me, as although they share traits they do seem distinct.

Anyway, our five year old is already designing Minecraft worlds rather well.

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On line test

You can try this test http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html

I got to know Aspergers through my son. I realised that I had it too... All along... Shocking experience really... To revisit one's life under the Aspergers perspective.

It did explained why I fell in love with my ZX81/Spectrum etc... When I was 12 and never stopped being involved with computers and IT ever since.

The original article lacks the empathy that people who now know that they lack empathy, cannot be excused for lacking it.

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Re: On line test

I'd like to ask, were you actually diagnosed with aspergers? Or did you just take the test and decide it on yoru own. I'm not trying to be rude here but, there are plenty 'normal' people who could fail that test, just because they might be shy etc. An online test is no subsitute for body language and reactionary responses that would be picked up by a psychiatrist.

Far too many people take these online tests and diagnose themselves as having problems when they really don't.

For instance according to similar online tests, I ave ADD, Potentially a sociopath etc etc. (I have been professionally diagnosed as having aspergers however. And although I think I might have ADD it's undiagnosed and I don't see much point getting it diagnosed now, hence why I will never claim to have it)

I think those tests are a good way of confirming that you might have it, but really think people should get diagnosed professionally before they start to say they have it.

Also just took that test and scored 45 / 50

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Re: On line test

Thinking of online tests as something meaningful earns you 10 extra points.

But seriously - not all points are of equal weight, and some are dependent on context. Do not judge all by yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

Asperger Syndrome diagnosis ..

Did Asperger Syndrome exist before the term was invented by the psychiatric profession?

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Re: Asperger Syndrome diagnosis ..

What? Did neurological disorders exist? Yes. But until we all posses hand held MRI/EEG scanners, we will have to go by symptoms and other visual cues.

A label is just that, a name tag. The meaning is much broader and generally only covers the effect/symptom and not the cause/disorder.

But in all honesty, if you see someone with a broken leg, you don't worry about what colour and make of car hit them, but how to help the person. Likewise, you could argue about the existence of any mechanical and chemical (neurons and brain cells are just that, though people are much more than the sum of their parts ;) ) cause to Aspergers, or you could offer to help anyone who needs advice and some assistance.

Which one are you going to be? Someone who adds to a persons problems, or someone who looks to give them time and understanding?

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Re: Asperger Syndrome diagnosis ..

Of course it did. Dr Asperger investigated groups of children who behaved differently and found a common group of behaviour: Social anxiety, lower empathy that expected, clumsiness (which I think isn't actually a symptom) and high focus to the point of obsession.

Once he identified these traits, he defined "Asperger's syndrome" and published it in a medical journal.

Did the common cold exist before language was invented so that people could say "I have a cold!"?

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Welcome to Infrastructure King

Your extremely specific infrastructure order is our mumble mumble.

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Like it or not,

a great deal of IT is showing your working out (if you work in a role with design responsibilities) or communicating with people, so the symptoms of Aspergers is a drawback and you should expect correspondingly less pay / responsibility / scope for freedom if you exhibit these (like myself, whom no-one listened to credibly in meetings yet who was proven right time and again. Who is now a sysadmin with no architecture responsibilities in another company).

I always snort when that kid from Day After Tomorrow whinges about having to show his working out, as the object of the class is to teach the process as well as the answer, and the world is full of situations where you just can't say "but I know" and have to show that you do. I like to use situations like that as a "self-important f*ckwit" filter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Like it or not,

a great deal of IT is showing your working out (if you work in a role with design responsibilities) or communicating with people, so the symptoms of Aspergers is a drawback and you should expect correspondingly less pay / responsibility / scope for freedom if you exhibit these (like myself, whom no-one listened to credibly in meetings yet who was proven right time and again. Who is now a sysadmin with no architecture responsibilities in another company).

Not quite correct in my experience. One of the interesting things about Aspergers is that communicating with other Aspies is NOT a problem - as a matter of fact, it tends to be highly efficient. It's bridging the gap between haves and have-nots that is the challenge, which is why a team leader who has at least light Aspie traits is *FAR* more effective with a tech team than one who is fully integrated in the management tree but cannot grok the different way people with Aspergers talk, think and brainstorm.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Like it or not,

I always snort when that kid from Day After Tomorrow whinges about having to show his working out, as the object of the class is to teach the process as well as the answer, and the world is full of situations where you just can't say "but I know" and have to show that you do. I like to use situations like that as a "self-important f*ckwit" filter.

Funny, the way you speak makes my "self-important f*ckwit" meter go off the charts.

The lesson may be about teaching the process, but as far as somebody with aspergers is concerned, it's the destination, not the journey. If you give me an algebraic equation and tell me to work it out. I cannot. I don't see x and y, I just see 1 and 2. There was no working out involved, therefore none to show.

When it comes to questions of a subjective nature, where no definitive answer can be given it is quite right to provide methodoligies of working out to prove said theory. Look at science as an example of this. Ask an aspie to explain their theory on why a certain event occurs and they could reel off information at a mile a minute becasue the information is there and is required. Give them a question with a set answer and they will give you a set answer.

As somebody else mentioned, there's the difference between management and aspies. (Can't remember whose post it was, something about team leaders)

You ask somebody with Aspergers if costs are going to rise as a result of us making a new product you will get a simple. "Yes, we expect the price to rise by around 5%" that answers the question succinctly. You ask the same question of somebody in management on the business side, and they'll tend to ramble on repeating the same anecdoal changes to the market economy, blah blah on for 5 minutes and fail to give a definitive answer to the question. To another manager type they just made perfect sense and answered their question, to an aspie they skirted the question, gave no factual response and wasted 5 minutes. Likewise if the aspie answered with the straight forward fact, the manager would most likely ask them a large numbe rof additional questions, most of which are related to the initial question, but not directly. And by the end of it you'll get a "so what you're effectively saying is that prices will rise 5%?" whcih will make me facepalm.

It's like an artist and an architect. An artist can paint a beautiful picture of a house, they can give detailed descriptions of every facet of the house. The architect will give you a set of detailed documents containing measurements and proportions, joinings and supports etc.

Back to my initial point, calling somebody a fuckwit because they don't agree with your own conventions makes you seem like far more of a fuckwit and I pray to god I'm never stuck on a team with you.

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Anonymous Coward

brilliant explanation!

I too have Aspergers and work in IT, we are so similar, you have made me think I'd be better working for myself as my employer does not value my strengths (it REALLY should).

I understand only too well about the issue of prejudice, once I see lack of integrity, I cannot get past it. You've helped me to see that I can do better in this area.

I also don't understand peoples problem with detail, specially in IT, detail is everything in IT.. if you're going to leave the detail entirely to someone else you need to be able to trust them with your business or system they way you'd trust a surgeon with your body. Success lies in the detail.

Thanks for the great article, youre a good ambassador for Aspergers and its positive side. I wouldn't dare tell my employer about my Aspergers BTW.

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Can I make a meta comment?

I dated a pair of identical twins for a period of time that lasted 4 years or so[0] ... They had matching birthmarks on their right thighs. They also had a couple of moles (in various places) that were matching. Most people couldn't tell them apart.

I could tell them apart across a football field, and once in a crowded airport. They were completely different people, despite looking like ... well ... identical twins.

We're all human, and we're all unique. Vive la différence!

[0] Hush, children, one at a time.

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Re: Can I make a meta comment?

Itchy, itchy beard.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can I make a meta comment?

I presume this happened before the doctors fixed your squint

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Getting Diagnosed

I think one of the problems with aspergers though, is it's a very broad disorder.

There are some people who are, well lets say full on aspergers. Socailly detached, cannot function at all in large groups or people but they're fine on their own. They're probably a 10 on the "how bad is it doc" scale.

Then there are other people with aspergers who aren't quite as bad. Whether it's due to upbringing (I grew up in a very sarcastic household, with very outgoing friends who prety much forced me to socialize) or it just doesn't affect them as badly. In general day to day activities you may not realize these people have aspergers until you get to know them.

But the thing is, with all of these people it's built in to them, hardwired. We didn't choose not to be social, it's just how we're made.

However, Aspergers has become the go to diagnosis (formerly ADHD) so many parents are self diagnosing their children as having aspergers syndrome because it gives a label to why thier child behaves oddly. Some of those children might have aspergers, most do not. The problem is, once these children have been 'diagnosed' they have an excuse. Lets face it, as a kid if you had an excuse to do something, you'd do it. Aspergers gave them an excuse not to be social, not to play nice etc. So rather than people who Aspergers who can't really create social connections, they just choose not to and let their social abilities suffer.

Eventually it becomes hard to tell if they actually have aspergers or not because they simply haven't exercised their social abilities at all.

But on the other side of it, people who are 'diagnosed' by their parents who actually do have aspergers get the help they need much sooner.

I was only diagnosed by accident (well pretty much)

I have terrible eyesight, so I had a teaching assistant at school to help with stuff on the whiteboard etc. Go mid way through senior school and by that point I'd gotten bored of most classes. I'd finish reading lists for English in one lesson, and then complain that I had nothing to do while the rest of the class was barely half way through the first book etc. I'd randomly switch off in lessons because frankly, I had nothing better to do. When I switched off though, it was pretty much sleeping with my eyes open. Fully aware etc, but unresponsive to anything until somebody bought me out of it.

Teaching assistant thought I might have something called petit mal. (look it up on wikipedia, his guess would actually make a lot of sense)

So he called my parents and advised about it, said they might want to ge tme checked for epilepsy. Went to the hospital for epliepsy tests, and nothing. But the nurse who was doing the test noticed a few of my 'quirks' I guess and advised I see a psychiatrist to see if I had something called 'Aspergers' so I went to the psychiatrist, they spoke to me. Then they spoke to my parents seperately. I think they also spoke to my teaching assistant. Then they came back with the diagnosis.

It was entirely luck that I was diagnosed at all, otherwise I wouldn't know about it even now.

What I'm getting at is, right now there are hundered if not thousands of self diagnosed children with 'aspergers' of thsoe children maybe 5% actually have the disorder. But those are the ones actually being diagnosed to a degree. On the other side of the coin, there are thousands more children teens and adults who go undiagnosed. And this isn't just Aspergers, things like ADD, ADHD... Other stuff.

It would be nice if, once per year, or perhaps throughout the year there were school psychiatrists who would be there to give an actual diagnosis to these children when they're younger and it can actually make a bigger difference to them. Right now children rely on either a poor diagnosis by parents who don't really care to get an official diagnosis, or they occasionally have it spotted by a doctor looking for something else, or a teacher. But so many children who could actually do with the help are overlooked.

And as an addendum to this. I really wish they'd stop trying to use this as a legal defence.

"Bob stabbed 3 of his classmates before he was arrested. Apparently he has aspergers" great, good for bob. Aspergers has nothing to do with him stabbing people though, it was still his own choice. The same with McKinnon, the same with the vast majority of news reports where aspergers is mentioned.

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Re: Getting Diagnosed

Petit Mal - Type of epileptic seizure, lesser-cousin of the more well-known grand mal seizure. I used to think these two were the only types of epilepsy, and congratulated myself because I knew of one more type than most people. (I don’t know if arrogance is a symptom of Aspergers, or if it’s just me. If Sheldon Cooper is a 10, I’m a 6 or 7).

Turns out there are dozens of different types of epilepsy. I have one of those, on top of my mild Aspergers. My epilepsy manifests as violent temper-tantrums, which are easy to ascribe to me being a stroppy, undisciplined man-child, rather than to an electrical storm inside my brain.

It's a dangerous combination: The Aspergers cause me to be easily frustrated, which in turn causes stress that can trigger the seizures. From the outside it just looks like I couldn't handle not having my way, and threw a shit-fit.

Now I take anti-epileptic drugs that have improved my quality of life 10,000%. I no longer have the tantrums, which makes my life easier; it makes the people around me less scared of me, whichobviously improves my interactions with them, which makes my life easier still; I no longer get in trouble at work for scaring away customers (I had to go through a disciplinary, back before I was diagnosed); and the meds greatly alleviated the depression that had dogged me since childhood. (Depression, both unipolar and bipolar, are linked with epilepsy in some way, such that one can be confused for the other, and drugs for one can have the side-effect of alleviating the other.)

Moral of my story: If you think there is something "wrong" with you, your child, or a loved one, get a professional diagnosis as soon as possible. Do not, like I did, wait till you're 38 and your life is already a mess. Proper therapy (drugs and/or psychiatric) can make all the difference.

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Re: Getting Diagnosed

Yes, it seems to be a smooth spectrum, so any lines are drawn rather arbitrarily. But overdiagnosing should be a lesser sin than underdiagnosing. Better safe(r) than sorry.

Are you sure about epilepsy tests? AFAIK epilepsy diagnosis is issued only when all other reasons (cardiovascular etc) are excluded. But it may be different in US.

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Re: Getting Diagnosed

The only tests I remember from it were teh epilepsy test (the one with the strobes and the wires connected to the head) and I think I may have had an EKG also. There may have been other tests done, but I honestly cannot remember.

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Re: Getting Diagnosed

I'm not in the US. :-)

I had a 24-hour EEG test run. I spent an entire day with a bunch of electrodes stuck to my head, and then an expert combed through the results. This was two years ago, so maybe the technology has improved, allowing positive tests rather than just eliminating all the other possibilities.

Certainly I don't know of too many possible causes for grand mal seizures other than epilepsy, but the other expressions of epilepsy can be harder to spot, as mine fly under the radar for 38 years.

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Anonymous Coward

I've been working in IT for 15+ years. I've always been someone who can deal more easily with the user community, be they the people with the problems or with the managers who pay the bills, unlike some of my more....uncomfortable....colleagues. In that time I've met a huge number of people who are clearly "different".

Four years ago my eldest son (then three) was diagnosed with ASD. Long, long story short, he has a speech and language disorder, as well as socialisation issues. He's in a great (and horribly expensive) school now, and doing great, but I see a lot of the young me in him. I remember being utterly unable to understand what other kids wanted, and really struggling to make friends (I am still a bit hopeless at keeping friendships going; my friends are very tolerant of my long periods of non-contact). As I grew older, I learned how to deal with my inadequacies to the point that I became better at it that other people like me. I now know how much effort it takes me, not that most people would notice.

Since my son's diagnosis and all I've learned about ASD, I can now spot an ASD IT guy at 10 paces. There are usually certain physical indicators, around posture, eye contact etc, as well as behavioural. For those of you who think you might be ASD, please speak to your local friendly healthcare provider; they may well be able to help you. Don't self-diagnose.

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Interviewing an Aspergers

Aaron Milne, please send me an email, so I have your contact details, just in case I ever need someone with your gifts - I also provide IT services in Brisbane - I develop mobile apps. You can reach me via http://www.desirableapps.com

Back when I had a normal job, I used to help interview candidates.

One interview I will never forget was with someone who almost certainly had Aspergers.

He said wildly inappropriate things in the interview - talking in detail about what he didn't like about his current job (rule of interviews - you *never* do that - keep it positive!). He was completely factual and honest with his answers, but he didn't notice any non verbal queues, and answered every question in the technical interview perfectly.

After the interview, one of my fellow interviewers said "that was weird". I said "I think he has Aspergers". The others asked "what is that?". I said "Its a high functioning form of Autism. He will never be good at managing people. You would never put him in front of a client. But what he gets in return is a superhuman ability to concentrate, to solve problems. He would be perfect to track down your software stability issues, he will track them down, and solve them.".

I recommended they hire - a recommendation which was sadly overruled.

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Re: Interviewing an Aspergers

I have that same problem. If I'm asked a question I tend to answer honestly. Although in some cases I see my honest answers as good points. In the end since I knew I was terrible at interviews from the get go, I printed off a shieet with god knows how many standard interview questions, answered them all as best as I could, then sent the answers off to family members to scrutinize. Then I'd redo the answers again, and get a friend (who had experience interviewing employees) interview me to help with bodylanguage bits. (Biggest problem was slumping forwards / looking at the ground etc)

Got advice from him, and then never really had a real interview. Instead they read my CV, gave me a technical interview over the phone, then in the main interview I was asked a few very basic questions, had another technical test. (one was designing and writing a simple application, the other was finding errors in a code snippet) and then got the job. All that effort preparing for interview questions and none of it was needed.

The moral of the story is whatever you prepare for, the interviewer will do the exact opposite.

As a final Aspergers note, it's a pain in the ass getting onto the employment ladder. Most starter jobs are retail, front facing positions etc. Effectively the jobs people with aspergers are least suited to. Made it a major pain getting my first job. Dropped my CV into every store in town. Of the interviews I had I failed miserably. Eventually got a job though, a friend (the same one who gave me the test interviews later down the line) was working, and said they had a job opening and he'd put in a good word for me.

Got down there, and the interview was along the lines of "here's the front area, here's the back area where you'll be starting out, this is the kitchen, what size will you need for the uniform"

I have quite literally never gotten a job where a real interview was involved. Each job I've had I've managed to somehow skip the interview process in one way or another.

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Silver badge

A very important point had been made

Difference are usually seen as problems.

This article shows how differences and can be strengths.

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Anonymous Coward

With thanks to the BOFH

Well I have the BOFH to thank for my diagnosis

I'd never heard of Aspergers (why would I, I've not interest in psychology), but after many run-ins with my boss over my attitude to users, him, bosses and clients, I was chatting to my partner about things and I just said, "Do you think I've got Aspergers". When challenged, the only thing I had was....

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/20/bofh_2009_episode_2/

3 years on and I have a diagnosis, employment rights and understanding from my friends and family. Thanks El Reg, you truly changed my life

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Anonymous Coward

(I'm the AC from 10:32 GMT by the way)

For all the ASD people on here, let me ask you a question: what did your grandfathers do?

Engineering, by any chance?

Congratulations - you've passed the Baron-Cohen test (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/9045703/Parents-provide-clues-to-autism.html)

I've asked this question at numerous gatherings of parents of ASD kids and every single one has said their father were involved in engineering in some way. My son? Well, my dad was an Engineering lecturer and my wife's dad was an engineer involved in designing guidance systems. It's quite scary.

In 50 years time, the question will be "Were your grandparents in IT?".

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I like cheese,

and was totally pee'ed off when the www.houseofcheese.co.uk domain had been taken many years ago for their fascist commercial cheese empire, (although they actually have a really good selection at Cotswolds second home prices). Anyway does my fixation allow me some leeway on my deadlines?

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Gold badge

Well this explains something.

Reading this lot sheds a lot of light on why any article with a "social networking" slant always comes in for a right shoeing in the comments.

Ho hum, I don't "get it" either. I reckon the whole thing revolves around "feeling connected" to other people and I, for one, don't.

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Some thoughts...

I got diagnosed a few years ago with mild Aspergers and also PDD/NOS.

Talk about keeping your options open ;-).

I'm a failed programmer. Not clever enough in the mental gymnastics department. I still study computer programming for fun. Some stuff that catches my eye is decompilation, disassembly, reversing, GUI design.

All kinds of things. A lot of my 'friends' think I'm a wizard. But what I don't tell them is that they are just fuck dumb and incurious. :-). A full Aspie would just tell it like it is...

I am a bit clumsy. Always was. Kind of grew out of it though. I wanted to be a pro footballer because I loved the game. But I just didn't have what it took in the leg synchronised with ball gymnastics department.

I was shit in other words. So gave up on that.

Decided I would become a pro guitarist. Practiced 8 hours a day 6 days a week for more years than I care to admit. Finally reached the point where I thought, Mmm... I am good, but I'm not Ritchie Blackmore. In other words I wasn't shit, but I wasn't as good as I should have been for time expended.

Now, this may or may not have anything to do with anything. But it does show that I can be a little obsessive about things and get lost in them, and also my motor-coordination whilst perfectly fine for every day, day-to-day life, is not at a level that would be necessary for a jet-fighter pilot. I do have one particularly weird thing though. I can knock a cup off a table whilst full (accidentally of course) and by pure instinct and without sight whip my arms around my back and with a twisted and convoluted contortion, catch the cup without spilling a drop. Don't ask me how I do it. I have the reflexes of a cat. I should be in the circus.

Someone mentioned earlier the curse of only being slightly on the spectrum. I can confirm this. It's a nightmare. Most people assume you are normal. So you work with computers, so you are intelligent. You are not dribbling at the mouth, so you are not autistic. They put two and two together, and.... They just think you are rude or insensitive. I have learned to hone my social skills. A little too much sometimes it would seem. I have actually been accused of being 'suave'. :-) Does anyone even use that word any more? Well the gentleman in the pub that had just met me did. It is surprising the level to which one can mimic learned human behaviour. This is probably how psychopaths work. I don't know. I just do it to get by. Fat lot of good it does me.

I'm pretty much a failure in everything I do. There is nothing I am really really good at. Maybe music. But that's not for me to say. I don't really get this life thing. I have all the co-morbid stuff that goes along with it - chronic and severe and even sometimes major depression. Yes they are all different. Double-depression it is sometimes called. There is anxiety, social exclusion and a whole other raft of things to deal with.

Family don't want to know. Autism, whether a little itsy bit on the SPECTRUM or not doesn't count. People with autism are dribbling idiots. Then there is the, oh psychologists make this up as they go along. In the old days you would have been called the village idiot. Then there is the 'Oh you just want to be autistic because it is trendy'. I actually know people in the computer world that DO want to be autistic, ironically enough, but just being good with computers and insensitive is not enough to join the hallowed club, sorry. They resent me for my diagnosis saying 'you can't be autistic, you are a crap programmer'. Go figure.

And so the thing entwines with itself. Contradictions and paradoxes abound. Very little understanding. You can't tell someone you just met you are a 'bit' autistic. They have no concept of a 'bit' mad. Others will think you are making excuses for rudeness. Others will think you looking for attention. Others will think you are saying 'aren't I clever?'. Most people with Aspergers are only of an average intelligence. Yes, higher intelligence exists, but it is balanced out by those with lower intellect. Being autistic does NOT mean you are automatically even as clever as the guy who sweeps the streets. And no offense to him/her that does sweep the streets. If you do mention it you are marked. Some will say, 'oh there's that autistic one'. Others will say 'oh he's just making it up'.

True story, I have a blind friend. Let's call him John. Coz that's his real name. Not only is he totally blind, he has two glass eyes. The laughs we have had when we have had a couple of drinks together when he raconteurs about the times people have said: 'He's not blind, he's making it up'. Once he even had the police called to a pub after someone called about someone impersonating a blind person. I don't know if you know but that is an offense in the UK and not taken lightly. All he ever has to do is take his glass eyes out and put them on the table. Best one was some young girls having a go at him. This time when he put his eys on the table in front of them, one of them actually vomited. Oh the hilarity that ensued...

I digress. Thankfully I suppose, I can't take my eyes out and put them on the table. I only have my honesty and yes pretty much most spectrum people don't lie, or don't feel the need to or couldn't even if they wanted to. I can bullshit as well as and maybe better than the next man. But that's just me. Everyone is different, even within the spectrum. But these are 'good games' as the guru Alan Watts might call them. I never bullshit to gain anything, whether it is respect or money. I must never gain in any way. I do it to learn. I do it in environments where no one is harmed. I do it to test. It has almost become a defense mechanism for me. But whilst I probably do have low self-esteem, I really don't see how lying or deception could ever make up for that. I want what's real. Something most 'Neurotypical' people are unable to give.

I get on well with a lot of other Spectrum people, well the ones I have met. But to be honest, most Aspergers and autistic types just go 'blah blah blah, me me me' and consequently they are highly boring. But then again these are just my findings so far and I have little experience with these things. After only being diagnosed a few years ago, Aspies, autism and all that comes with it, weren't on my radar.

Look at me blahing on ;-).

One final point about the sensory overload. It is quite typical for the senses of an autistic spectrum person to be more sensitive than neurotypical types. I wear shades in the day - bright light hurts my eyes. I can not stay in a room with a television - it hurts my ears. I can not stay in a room with pig-ignorant people - it offends my sensibilities. And if someone asks me what I really think, and I know that they are genuine and that they value my opinion - I tell them the truth.

I love computers, I love music, I love philosophy. I even love people when they aren't being shits..

I just feel for (I won't patronise and pity here) the people that are a good bit further along the spectrum than me. If it is impossible for me to have a life, a job, friends, a relationship, what must it be like for them? That was a rhetorical question btw, if you went some way to mentally answering it, I would get yourself checked out and diagnosed. You never know. It could be you! There's a place on the spectrum for everyone.

These are just some flippant off the cuff remarks that hopefully aren't too far off topic. FWIW.

But I must just leave you with this before I go. As for a lack of functional empathy, what would you make of this:

A crowded bar at noon. Lots of shirts and black ties.

Robot Voice: DOES NOT COMPUTE!

End up talking to some guy and asked what it was all about. He says to me: 'Oh I ran my wife over in my tractor and killed her'.

What would you say?

This is what I said: 'I'm sure the bitch deserved it!'

You can imagine the rest. Hilarity did indeed ensue.

I didn't say that because I had a lack of functional empathy. I said it because I honestly thought he was joking. He totally caught me off guard.

And do you know, (and this is why I love all types of people), he is the ONLY ONE that forgave me for what I said. I apologised to him a a week later, and he just said, no apology necessary etc. etc..

No one else in that pub ever forgave me though.

I don't lack functional empathy. I just lack the wherewithal when to employ it. Because after years of being taken for a ride because you are a bit 'simple', your defenses really do go up and you end up trusting no one on face value at first sight. I did say the thing entwines on itself didn't I? And the paradoxes? And the hilarity? Really, if you didn't laugh...

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