Asperger's and IT

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  1. JudeKay

    Asperger's and IT

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

    1. RoboJ1M
      Holmes

      Re: Asperger's and IT

      hehehehehe. Yeah. Sounds quite a lot like me.

      The days and weeks I've lost to seeing if I can make some piece of code or script that much more efficient or easier to run.

      Joy of joys my role now involves how the source control is arranged, used, the naming conventions, the change control processes, the release process, the testing process and the code auditing process.

      And designing and writing the inter-process document exchange specifications and the user interface design (but not the styling because who gives a crap about what it looks like? Except I got to come up with a method of divorcing design and implementation of content from design and implementation of style) and database design and how to increase coding efficiency (can you believe that people don't understand why duplication is bad?!)

      And how to get multiple developers to work on the same project AND talk to each other AND not try to kill each other! It's like herding cats!

      Holmes because the devil's in the details and I don't care what you think about how long it's going to take

      So yes, I may be somewhere on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Asperger's and IT

        Quite honestly, what was described in the article could easilly be applied to any IT guy that is worth his salt. I reckon that most of us know the pains and pleasures of coding all night long, skipping meals and social life. It is very easy to become addicted to coding or to any other practice and completely ignore all around you and I would not consider that as any reason to believe that someone has Aspergers Syndrome.

        I find that this Aspergers Syndrome has become an ecxuse for some IT guys not to spend the effort in developing their social skills. Most of this will be seen later in life that same person loses interest in that particular activity.

        Reading some of the comments on ElReg about Aspergers really make me believe that some of you guys actualy "want " to be diagnosed with this problem. This article is a fine example of this case.

        The definition of Aspergers is so vague and so large that it is almost impossible to really define who suffers and who doesn't. Aspergers is a syndrome, therefore ii is a collection of symptoms, and most of the articles that I read on El Reg only appear to discuss very individual symptoms on a very singular basis.

        Some of the symptoms : difficulty with speech, anxiety, depression, sensory deficiency. narrow interests, delay in motor skills.

        So unless there is a unusally high proportion of El Reg readers displaying several of the above mentioned symptoms, there must indeed by a problem with people wrongly diagnosing themselves..

        I think it is about time that Aspergers Syndrome stopped being brandied about as though it was some kind of medal to earn.

        Those that truly suffer from the problem will recieve less help due to it becoming a banality.

        1. RoboJ1M
          Meh

          Re: Asperger's and IT

          Well at least awareness is increasing, my girlfriend was diagnosed late in her educational career and had a *VERY* unpleasant time before that.

          From what I've learnt over the years it seems to be something like this:

          It's a spectrum, or scale. Starts at zero (I guess?) and goes all the way up to Rain Man.

          Everybody's on it and that's why EVERYBODY associates with it.

          Now, a syndrome is defined as "The association of several clinically recognizable features, signs, symptoms, phenomena or characteristics that often occur together, so that the presence of one or more features alerts the healthcare provider to the possible presence of the others." (wiki) and I've read more (which I can't find ref to) which states that when dealing with autistic spectra and important criteria is that it "affects the individual's quality of life"

          Got a few of the symptoms? Having a nice life though? Good for that person.

          Wait, it's probably a bell curve isn't it?

          Er, so if Rain Man's on one side who's over on the other side?

          Some sort of person who can't focus but is some kind of empathic psychic?

          There's a comment a few blocks down about Cancer Research UK.

          That's makes me want to find those people give them the full Rage o'Clock.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Asperger's and IT

            I find the Aspergers discussion difficult. Because I've dealt with 'Rain Main', but don't know anyone who's diagnosed as having Aspergers, although several who might be there-or-there-abouts - depending on how widely you draw the net.

            But it makes it hard for me to comprehend, because it's supposed to be a spectrum. But when you've dealt a lot with someone who's profoundly autistic, it's hard to see much cross-over. Rain Man had the courage not to have a happy ending, but still had that hope of improvement running through the story. That hope is depressing by it's absence when you're dealing with autism every day. Also you're liable to find yourself getting punched/kicked/bitten/scratched a lot more than that film, and in my experience playing a lot more piano...

            I guess I need to read up on it more. It's hard to deal with these graduations on a scale. Rather like ADHD and just not having much of an attention span. For lack of any physical/chemical means of diagnosis we're stuck with trusting the head-pshrinkers to get it right.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Asperger's and IT

              Umm, before we roll off this track we need to distinguish between functional and non-functional autism.

              Non-functional means not being able to interact with society at all, but Aspergers is on the functional side.

              I have it too. I'm crap at relationships, but *seriously* good at electronic security and counter surveillance, to the point where I just look at something and see the flaws, like a picture. When I say "good", it's the observation of others who keep telling me this. For me, it's not that easy or a reason for pride because I have no real control over this - it's who I am. I don't have some switch I can throw - I am always on. The moment I walk in somewhere, the moment I get a design, it happens all the time.

              Sometimes I think I actually would like to switch things off for a while.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Asperger's and IT

                Let's bring in some logic to the thread.

                I don't like people, I am shy, I am not great at conversation, I am ugly, fat, or both and I feel awkward around people, and any of a thousand others reason for not being social. ( This subset probably represents at least 70% of the population, if not more ).

                Because I do not spend time with people I spend time doing my favorite hobby. IT, Electronics, watching TV or whatever eats your fancy.

                What this then means is that I have the time, very few distractions, I can read up, educate myself, thrive on internet forums and becoem good or even very good at my chosen subject etc etc etc .

                I presume by now, any of the intelligent readers know where I am going with this.

                Then I read the something about someone that I can relate to, Garry McKinnon for example. Before Garry McKinnons case Aspergers Syndrome was never ever spoken about in the IT community. It just so happens that is becomes Garrys principal line of defence.

                Suddenly we have IT guys / geeks / nerds who are popping out of the woodwork stating that they too must have Aspergers Syndrome simply because they themselves feel as though they are in the same situation. Sorry guys you are not in the same position.

                Well guys sorry to say this but is is time you grew up and broke out of your shells because what you are really suffering from is another problem more commonly known as "Shyness". And your apparent skills are nothing more than the signs of someone who has studied a little more than usual within a particular field.

                Garry McKinnon was certainly no ace in IT by the way, he was on par with a script kiddie, so he is not even a good role model.

                Also before any of you go on about what you "THINK" you might suffer from, please take my advice. NEVER ever diagnose a psychiatric or psycological problem of this nature on your own. Either you go get analysed by a professional, and they are not easy too find ou cheap, or STFU.

                This thread is like reading a ME TOO or an "attention seekers" forum. I find it strange that so many of you are very open about your problems in a public forum and seem almost pleased to annonce yourselves as being sufferers of AS. If Gary McKinnon had severe schizophrenia I am sure that there would be a lot less of you spouting on about your pretend problems.

                Some your commetns are absoultely lamentable, go back an read some of them, it's like reading the "help me Doctor Ruth" column of those 1970s women mags.

                As mentioned earlier, you are making the world a hell of a lot more difficult for those that really do suffer.

                Either you really have been diagnosed by a professional or you haven't, if you haven't then let those that have do the talking.

                This may come as a suprise, there are actually vey few people that are comfortable and that don't feel awkard speaking/standing in front of others. It takes courage to break down those barriers and it sounds as though a lot of you are lacking the balls to grow up. There might be one or two in this forum who actually do have a recognized case of AS and of those that are, I can easilly imagien how pissed of they must be whilst reading some of these comments.

                I ain't Spartacus hint the nail on the head when he mentioned having worked with a real Rain Man. I am convinced that if most of you met someone who truly suffered from AS you would most likely crawl back into the woodwork.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Asperger's and IT

                  Just to add to the above comment, here is a little YT video on a text book case

                  PBS Independent Lens Asperger Syndrome

                  And you guys really want to make us believe that you are similar to this guy, I very much doubt it.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Asperger's and IT

                    Regardless of someones actual medical condition, we all have pain and problems to deal with. If your going to pull the "your not suffering as much as the next guy" card, at least do so politely and with a little care.

                    I have family who are in the Aspergers spectrum, and damn, people like you saying "oh, your not as bad as that other guy on tv" are the WHOLE problem that prevented them getting help in the first place.

                    So no, we are not all suffering from cancer, but that's no reason to kick someone who says "I might need help in some areas too" on occasion.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Asperger's and IT

                      TL;DR

                      I agree with you but if you had read my post carefully you would have read the following

                      "As mentioned earlier, you are making the world a hell of a lot more difficult for those that really do suffer."

                      I am not arguing about those that really do suffer, I am arguing about those that think they suffer without having any real idea of what they are talking about.

                      And no, I am not kicking anyone that does truly suffer. I am kicking the "me too " crowd, those that don't suffer at all, those that abuse the very very very low end of the spectrum.

                      Most of us actually fit in the lower end anyway. I personally do not know anyone that does not suffer at some point from a variety of the symptons, although only for short perdios of time, it's actually normal for normal people. I also dont know anyone that does suffer "continually" ie a true AS.

                      People need to stop looking for reasons to be treated as suffering from one thing or another. We all suffer from at least one psycological problem or another, . I consider this situation as a manifestation of just how sick our society on a whole has become. Those that truly need help have difficulty getting it, those that can probably help themselves are jumping about all over the place seeking attention.

                2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

                  Re: Asperger's and IT

                  I'm sorry that you're fat and shy.

                  But yes, I do agree with your point.

                  If you had Aspegers, you're not shy. Shyness implies that you're afraid of reaching out. People with Aspergers don't feel the need to reach out and relate to others. They don't think in those terms. Its not important to them.

                  BTW, I may be wrong, but the real rain man that the character was based on, wouldn't be classified as a high functioning autistic individual.

                  There are high functioning adults with Aspergers that probably hadn't been diagnosed because they are capable of living on their own and functioning in society.

                  And again, to you point, yes one should talk to a Psychiatrist if they feel that they have any mental health issues.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Asperger's and IT

                  The vast majority of aspies have never been diagnosed because the diagnosis service is not available. I like the UK's NHS it does a lot of things really well. Adult psychological assessments are not one of those things. I've requested an evaluation and been referred to community mental health teams in two different London boroughs. In neither place could they offer me anything more than a warm handshake and a smile. Neither borough had any facilities for assessment of adult autism or Asberger's.

                  1. Gio Ciampa

                    Re: Asperger's and IT

                    Agreed on the patchy nature of the diagnosis service:

                    My (then 12-yr-old) daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers some 5 years ago, but only because someone at school noticed the effects it was having on her in class, so she was referred to a suitable centre and the rest is history.

                    I had a (brief) conversation with my doctor at the time about what I could do about being assessed myself: I was having a "me too" phase if people insist on calling it that (but I prefer that they didn't) as I share some of her traits, but all he could say was that I'd have to arrange it privately (not that he knew of anywhere local in any case) - so I left it at that, other than to sign us up with the Autism Research Centre to help them with their research.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Asperger's and IT

                    "The vast majority of aspies have never been diagnosed because the diagnosis service is not available. I like the UK's NHS it does a lot of things really well. Adult psychological assessments are not one of those things."

                    Have you tried contacting NAS, the National Autistic Society? Pretty sure they can help. You're mistaken when you say the diagnosis service is not available, it is.

                    http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/all-about-diagnosis/diagnosis-information-for-adults/how-do-i-get-a-diagnosis.aspx

                    Their contact number is 0808 800 4104

              2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: Asperger's and IT

                I don't know why you would post anonymously.

                I do agree that there is a difference between functional and nonfunctional autism.

                My wife would swear that I'm borderline autistic. While I would laugh it off, she was the one who made me take an ADD test and when talking to her doctor, it became apparent I do have ADD which went undiagnosed for 40 years. (While I do exhibit some traits of Aspergers, I also exhibit traits that show that I don't have it. And yes, I did speak to my wife's doctor about it.)

                To your point, because you can recognize a pattern that no one else sees, doesn't mean that you have it.

                I don't mean to belittle you, because I think its important that you recognize that you are you and it appears that you are comfortable in your own skin.

                However, I think that we shouldn't trivialize autism. Many of us have some of the traits, but we would never be classified as having been diagnosed with Aspergers.

                If you think you have it, you probably don't but it would be wise to talk to a mental health professional. (Read Psychiatrist) They can then make the correct diagnosis.

                I share your pain, but its not Aspergers.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Asperger's and IT

                  However, I think that we shouldn't trivialize autism. Many of us have some of the traits, but we would never be classified as having been diagnosed with Aspergers.

                  If you think you have it, you probably don't but it would be wise to talk to a mental health professional. (Read Psychiatrist) They can then make the correct diagnosis.

                  I share your pain, but its not Aspergers.

                  Diagnosed. I wasn't talking about a me-too Aspergers (there's also OCD and ADHD, but that's mild enough not to be too much of an issue), I was talking about what it does that bugs me most. I have learned to live with not being able to form relationships and being "odd", but the inability to switch off the analytics is sometimes a pain.

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: Asperger's and IT

                    I must dissent. ADHD is not "mild." It may manifest as mild in the overwhelming majority of patients...but the very same thing is true of Asperger's. ADHD can be a crippling, life-altering mental illness that sets you apart from everyone in the world and prevents you from living a normal life. Undiagnosed and untreated it can - and does - lead to depression and suicide.

                    I have very severe adult ADHD. I was incredibly lucky to have recieved novel, experimental treatments as a child. They changed my life...and the lives of millions of others.

                    First was a series of therapies that introduced to me meditation - first guided and then unguided - which allowed me to be able to attain a level of functionality that someone with ADHD like mine rarely achieves at such a young age. (I couldn't stand Ritalin or Dexedrine; they made me feel emotionally deadened. They changed my personality and I didn't like it.) This lead to being one of the people testing the early prototypes of the neurofeedback equipment that would eventually go on to become a front-of-line treatment for ADHD that now helps most people manage the illness.

                    Combined with ritual abuse of coffee (you still need stimulants, damn it!) I am a relatively high-functioning ADHD adult. But I am not - and I never will be - "normal." There's something just slightly "off" about me. I don't follow a single train of thought, certainly not with the intense focus of an Aspie. Instead, I follow hundreds or even thousands of trains of thoughts simultaneously. I examine all outcomes to an event at the same time.

                    This makes me particularly good at research but terrible in large groups. Understand me when I say I cannot block out stimulus occurring around me. That's the true pain of someone with deep ADHD. The average person can stand in a crowded room and focus only on the conversation they are participating in; look only at the person speaking. I cannot do this.

                    If you put me in a room with 50 people having 25 conversations then I will hear and simultaneously process all 25 conversations. Worse; my brain will run rampant, running predictive analytics on the conversations around me, analyzing body language, dress, social moores, even lighting cues to see how all of the affects everything from an individuals breathing to their choice of words. Show me a flock of birds and my mind will attempt to establish trajectory and velocity for each member. I can not turn this off. I am lacking that portion of my brain.

                    Conventions for me are physically painful. This year I am going to PuppetConf, VMworld and Spiceworld. I cannot describe in words how much I do not want to go to these events. They will beunending migraines that I can guarantee you will quite literally reduce me to weeping by the end of each day.

                    And yet, it's part of the job. This is part of living and working in a "normal" world. I am considered a "high functioning" ADHD individual, so much so that most people would never know that I had it. So for me, it isn't bad. It is something I can live with. Many others have it much worse, often because it went untreated.

                    ADHD isn't "mild." Not at all. It is something you can learn to live with...but someone with ADHD will never be "normal." That - and the stigma that goes with it - is the most damning thing of all.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Asperger's and IT

                      I have very severe adult ADHD. I was incredibly lucky to have recieved novel, experimental treatments as a child. They changed my life...and the lives of millions of others.

                      My own son had ADHD so badly that it was getting to the point where we were considering the whole chemistry set and I can tell you that that is a devastating position to be in as a responsible parent. Because I had already started confirming my theories and development with 3rd parties (and because the treatment has been confirmed non-harmful to people who do not have ADHD - always plan for misdiagnosis) I took in the end the decision to help my own child, with good results. We're now 10 years further and there is still no sign of remission.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Asperger's and IT

          Well, you don't have it.

          Too many typos. No attention to detail.

        3. John X Public
          Thumb Down

          Re: Asperger's and IT

          I think you are wrong on several points, and why do you even care if people are self-identifying as having Aspergers?

          While I work in IT and may exhibit some of the characteristics you'd classify as part of the 'trendy' diagnosis of Aspergers I know that I don't qualify for a diagnosis. I have two young sons that have been clinically diagnosed as having Aspergers and I have experienced exactly why their disabilities are different from mere introversion with a touch of arrogance and social indifference or awkwardness. It also means I'm pretty sure I have worked with some Aspies in IT, and have encountered them more often in technical roles than otherwise.

          Also, just to be clear there are actual clinical distinctions between Aspergers, Autism and ADHD (and its variants). Just because you don't understand them (e.g. 'difficulty with speech' is *not* characteristic of Aspergers) doesn't mean they are not real.

          I don't give a toss whether some social inverts use 'Aspergers' as a convenient label, I'm glad for my sons' sake that awareness of Aspergers in society is improving and they might be treated more kindly in their lives than was the case in the past.

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Pint

      Re: Asperger's and IT

      Seems to affect cops, too.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Jim 59

    Good article

    Good article. Good writing. I am wondering what are the prejudices mentioned, and how they could affect clients business ?

    1. wigginsix

      Re: Good article

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for reading. Like most IT Professionals I've encountered situations where they have a bad experience with a particular piece of hardware or vendor. Unlike most IT professionals I have a tendency to hold a grudge. Fortunately I'm more self aware than most with Asperger's so I understand that this can happen.

      For example: I loathe Sony. I don't have any reason to loather Sony, other than that I had a bad experience with a Sony Mobile phone in 2007. Unfortunately because of that I will never buy anything Sony produces. Ever. This is bad for my clients because it means that even if a Sony product was the best solution to a particular problem, I am highly unlikely to recommend that product because of personal issues. I don't forgive easily and I don't forget. The Sony issue is just an example though. They don't make hardware or offer services that my clients are likely to use so its one that I don't have to give up. ;-)

      Having said that I have developed checks and balances that are designed to defeat my personal prejudices. So far it's always worked. I won't ever rule out a product, service or vendor simply because of my personal prejudices. Regardless of how I feel I will always do whats best for the client. After all, they are paying.

      1. Jack Project

        Re: Good article

        If it helps I'm happy to list other reason why Sony are shit.

    2. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Good article

      I agree, great article.

      I see IT has having opportunities a plenty for disabled people, especially those who's social skills would crack under the strain when placed in a customer facing role or worse, a boss who measures your prospects with a social yard stick and not a competence metric rule.

      I spent several years battling through my role as A&E receptionist and dreaded every shift as nothing can prepare you for the socially negligent bursting into your face with all manner of self importance.

      I was "affectionately" referred to as the "human computer" as regardless of what was ranting in front of me I would continue to enter their details on the computer while talking on the phone to a consultant and taking delivery of several xrays from a passing porter. Only after I had completed my shift would the negativities of the day take their toll, negativities I had managed to suppress so I could continue providing a service for the many who relied on me doing my job. Obviously the time bomb was ticking and the inevitable breakdown occurred.

      Today I work for a disability charity, I earn a lot less, but I have never been happier.

      I get to do what I'm good at in an environment I have defined for myself, I don't answer phones, I don't cover reception, I'm expected to get everyone's name wrong at least once a week and because my IT skill set is beyond most, I am allowed to get on with it unchallenged. Happy days indeed.

      It's a shame our tertiary economy throws up millions of jobs where on a low pay you are expected to have the social skills of a saint when confronted by the usual disrespect shown by the general public.

      IT has opened doors for those of us that yearn to be successful at work, but are not adept at the social graces necessary to advance a career.

      Thank you Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace and all for giving me the opportunity to be happy at work.

      ..and although I have not been diagnosed with Aspergers I certainly do find the article very relevant to my experiences and probably must accept I am somewhere along the curve.

      Max said it in a nutshell "Aspies for freedom", well he didn't say it, he wore it and if you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to find the animation Mary & Max, a quiet couple of hours to yourself and a box of tissues..... (for your tears you sick people)

      1. keithpeter
        Pint

        Re: Good article

        "...I would continue to enter their details on the computer while talking on the phone to a consultant and taking delivery of several xrays from a passing porter..."

        @Rol and the OA

        I raise my glass to the pair of you.

        Enjoy your work!

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Good article

        In IT, having Aspergers isn't really a disability. (Assuming you're talking about high functioning individuals)

        They may have difficulty in communicating with the pointy haired types and non-IT folks, but they are 100% capable of getting the job done, if not 150% capable.

        Maybe I'm in the minority, but if the guy/gal can do the work, fit in to the team... that's enough for me.

        1. Stuart Van Onselen

          Re: Good article

          Lucky you. In my job it has always been nigh-on impossible to avoid users and managers completely. Fortunately my case is quite mild(1) so I very rarely tell people to their faces just how bloody stupid they are. (And that's just one way that an Aspie can screw up a social interaction.)

          But I have to admit, IT is the best you can hope for if you have high-functioning autism, because you can get to spent the majority of your time working with hardware and software not "wetware".

          (1) Mixed blessing, that mildness. I am very high-functioning, which makes my life easier. But that very mildness makes it difficult to spot, so I went 38 years without a diagnosis(2), when early diagnosis would have improved my life significantly.

          (2) As mentioned up-thread, a proper medical diagnosis is vital. Without it, you may only be suffering from "Assburgers", which is a condition where a self-diagnosis of Aspergers is used as an excuse for otherwise-unacceptable behaviour.

          (3) Can I petition the Forum Management Gods to allow superscripts in postings. Footnotes are more fun with them! (Or is there a way and I'm just missing it? <sup>1</sup> doesn't work, as you can see.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good article

          Current thinking within the disability sector is that people aren't disabled. Society is disabled to the extent that it fails to accommodate the needs of some people. So if in some teams an Aspie would be unable to function that team is disabled. A team should be expected to make "reasonable adjustment" to adapt its way of working to find a role for the Aspie.

          I am now at the point where I recruit and manage coders. I know that there are significant benefits to be gained by hiring some high-functioning Aspies. But they have to be managed differently from other team members. (Well actually every team member needs to be managed differently to every other team member.) If I can keep the rest of the organisation off of their backs some Aspies I know have done great work.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Good article

            Current thinking within the disability sector is that people aren't disabled. Society is disabled to the extent that it fails to accommodate the needs of some people.

            That's a dangerous line to take. Often bordering on the delusional, or sometimes a genuine case of 'PC-gone-mad'. For example, there have been cases of deaf parents trying to argue that the they shouldn't teach language to their non-deaf child, because deafness isn't really a disability, the problems are caused by an uncaring society.

            Similarly the whole differently-abled thing.

            If you can't walk, and need a wheelchair to get around, then you have a disability. No mealy-mouthed use of language gets around that. It shouldn't define you, nor does it make you any less valuable as a person, but you have a physical impairment meaning that you can't do the same things as most other people.

            In my case, I can't read the top letter on the eye-chart. My eyesight is so poor that technically I count as blind, or at least used to (they've changed the way these things are defined in the last ten years - so I don't know). I have somewhere between 5-10% of average vision, I understand it's not possible to be more precise than that with current measuring methods. By any sensible measure, that's a disability.

            Society could do more to help, like making things clearer, not using brown text on a brown background, not writing menus and train timetables in tiny letters 20 feet up on walls, etc. But it's my problem as well as societies. I have to deal with the fact that I can't drive - which isn't society's fault. You could argue that it is equally society's problem, and so I should be given massive amounts of cash for free taxis or something, but then that's nice for me - but arguably rather unfair on other tax-payers.

            Equally with other disabilities, compromise is needed. Society needs to improve, and is improving somewhat. Prejudice needs a lot more squashing, and facilities need to improve (and are, slowly). But should we hack historic buildings up in order to get wheelchair access? Or should disability rights take second place to heritage? Similarly people with Aspergers need understanding from society, but also need to learn (and make the effort) to integrate as much as they can. It's not going to be easy for either.

            This is an area where compromise and discussion are needed. But woolly and wishful thinking doesn't get us very far in doing it.

  3. Red Bren
    Coat

    "my lack of functional empathy it is like juggling chainsaws over a pit filled with crocodiles while it rains acid."

    Why not use the chainsaws to fashion a nice crocodile skin coast to keep the acid rain off?  Good article though!

    1. Red Bren
      Unhappy

      Coat! Damn you, COAT. Stupid predictive text and an eye infection make for bad spelling.

      1. Tom 13
        Happy

        @Red Bren

        I've had the predictive text correction algorithm uploaded to my organic interface so I read it as COAT anyway until I saw your correction. So it's all good as far as I'm concerned.

  4. Quentin North
    Trollface

    Ironic

    Of course, the description from the Wikipedia article is not quite correct. The symptoms it describes include physical clumsiness which is a product of a similar condition called dyspraxia. Also, Asperger's Syndrome is no longer a recognised diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders version 5 (DSM 5, the latest version).

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Ironic

      "Asperger's Syndrome is no longer a recognised diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders version 5"

      From what I have heard, that merely indicates there are not profitable drug therapies for it.

      1. The Boojum
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ironic

        Hear! Hear! Upvoted many, many times.

        The inclusion of a condition in or its exclusion from DSM 5 has everything to do with economics and nothing to do with therapy.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Ironic

          ........... and fashion.

    2. Woodgie
      Facepalm

      Re: Ironic

      Really?

      After 40 years of not quite getting 'life' I was finally diagnosed with Asperger's last year. And was promptly sacked when I told my employer. (that's dealt with, amicably).

      So now I'm back to square one with '...[he has] no valid excuse for his behaviour and actions other than being a bloody minded, stubborn hellion of a child who will find no place at this school or in society if he doesn't buck his ideas up very quickly indeed..." as one teacher so eloquently put it when I was 7.

      It's too hot for a coat, I'll just go, then, shall I?

      1. Woodgie

        Re: Ironic

        (Thanks for the thumbs ups!)

        I should point out that far from being the abject failure the (now deceased) teacher predicted, I'm IT Manager at a large company and am doing pretty well for myself.

    3. squigbobble
      Go

      Re: Ironic

      Most of the similarity is that they're both caused by faulty wiring. In that sense, most brain disorders are similar. My opinion on this is that the co-diagnosis of dyspraxia with autism is likely to be just an artefact of the diagnostic criteria rather than a feature of the disorder. That is, the dyspraxia symptoms are actually just symptoms of autism that fall into the bracket of dyspraxia. The more things you get diagnosed with, the greater your priority for learning disability support.

      Autism tends to cause problems with whole-body coordination, like playing the drums. That might be a manifestation of the diminished capacity for multitasking that autism causes or it might be problem with filtering the neural impulses used for muscle control; autism impedes your ability to attenuate sensory inputs down to a level where your brain can interpret them so it might be the case that it has a similar effect on neural output. Anyway, enough waffle and conjecture.

      Being a consultant sounds like a pretty dire role to be in if you're autistic; you're constantly dealing with people you don't know and, more importantly, who don't know you. The only 2 positives I can think of are that autistic people tend to be pathologically honest and some actively enjoy dishing out knowledge day and night. Maybe someone else has the biggest car but you'll have the fullest brain in the room when it comes to the subject(s) that you deal with.

      The Trevor Potts article mentions that IT purchasing tends to be preventative; you go for the thingy that seems the least likely to blow up and take a chunk of your business and capital investment with it. The same applies to the suppliers supplying the thingies; you'll lean towards ones who seem like they'll remain in existence for the duration of the support contract and who will be able to provide useful support rather than belming down the phone at you.

      At this point struggling with reading social cues, emitting some weird social cues yourself and panicking or blanking when you get into a social situation where you've no idea what the appropriate response is will make it difficult to build a rapport with the client and gain their trust. Not making appropriate eye contact (a classic autism symptom) will actively make them subconsciously distrust you if they haven't dealt with you for a long time.

      However, autistics can have an inadvertent advantage; they're crap at bullshitting so they tend not to try, thus preventing them from setting off people's bullshit detectors. Over time, that can create a rapport based on the client's perception of you as a last bastion of truth.

      Feck, that was long.

      1. wigginsix

        Re: Ironic

        I can vouch for the Dyspraxia. It exists, is real, and is at times, quite frustrating.

        As for being a consultant (I loathe the term quite honestly) you would think that it would, in and of itself, be totally wrong for me. Sometimes I wonder that myself. If I was an Enterprise Consultant, where ego stroking is everything, well frankly I'd be S**T out of luck. But I work with SME's. One thing I've learn't about SME's is that they don't have the time, inclination or money to reject me simply because I'm a bit different. All of the clients that I have are willing to look past my quirks because, up until recently, all of my new business has come from word of mouth referrals.

        We Aussie's have a peculiar tolerance for the (somewhat) brash, blunt and excruciatingly honest. I haven't had any complaints about that yet, at least not from clients. Dodgy IT firms on the other hand...

        1. Denarius Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Ironic

          @wigginsix,:re Ironic

          hear,hear. Never work for yank multinational. Their PHBs hate anyone not a craven bootlicker and willing to shade facts.

          Always was odd child, and when I discovered nerds and geeks, after years of being of a loner, not by choice, bang, a peer group. IT was a natural fit, despite none of the multiple aptitude tests I did over the years ever suggested computing as a career. On the upside, as I got older social interaction got easier. Perhaps working in small non-western cultures helped as they seemed to have the same difficulties in dealing with the white clerks too.

          Thanks for well written article. My feelings about work precisely.

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Ironic

      It's the general opinion of most actual scientists in the field ( as opposed to educational psychologists and Ritalin salesmen) that the DSM is about as sceintifically accurate as the Malleus Maleficarum and about as clinically useful

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    So how would one request you to cease speaking on a topic?

    In as polite and effective a manner as possible?

    1. wigginsix

      Re: So how would one request you to cease speaking on a topic?

      Thats usually that way yes. :-)

      It sounds quite bizarre, but I've noticed while self-assessing that the more uncomfortable I feel in a given social situation, the worse the one-sided verbosity can be.

      I'm getting better at recognising it which allows for some measure of controlling it, but everyday is different.

    2. Woodgie

      Re: So how would one request you to cease speaking on a topic?

      I tend to tell people that if they want me to stop/change subjects to tell me firmly that 'That's enough of that subject". I'm not going to be offended as I KNOW I go on but you have to be clear about it and say what you mean as if you use a euphemism or just hint at it I'm really unlikely to notice.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: So how would one request you to cease speaking on a topic?

        Hope things go well Woodgie. It's hard to work against such false labeling. By brother taught himself to read once out of school. So a lot of good they did for the "misbehaving" child. If just one person actually sat down to help him, as they did with my dyslexia, he'd of been in a much better situation.

        1. Stuart Van Onselen

          Re: So how would one request you to cease speaking on a topic?

          I had an interesting variant of that problem. As a student I was a high-achiever, so as long as I got good marks I was excused as just being "high-strung" and "eccentric" instead of "a troublesome brat".

          It might have been better if someone had paid more attention, because then they might have spotted the Apergers, or even the epilepsy that was the root cause of the violent temper-tantrums. Or not. 30 years ago, in a backwards country like South Africa, I doubt anyone would have spotted it anyway.

          Today it seems schools have swung the other way, by over-diagnosing and prescribing Ritalin at the drop of a hat. But if you can achieve a proper balance, the correct administration of medication, coupled with cognitive and/or occupational therapy, can improve the lives of so many children.

  6. BigNose

    Real-lifers

    My missus works with kids that have Aspergers and all sorts of degrees of Autism.

    One kid couldn't do maths well, but he could tell you about design principles, load structuring, heights, spans, just about everything about all the major bridges in the world. Fixation indeed.

    Another kid was very stressed/upset, but you can't just sit down and talk to them, they just don't like eye-to-eye contact, so she put 2 chairs back to back, 1 facing the wall in which she placed the child. She then got a Post-It, draw a smiley face on it and stuck it on the wall at eye level of the child and sat down in the other chair. "Talk"she says and he did.

    Everyone is different and therefore 'strange'. These people are just more different.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Everyone is different and therefore 'strange'. These people are just more different.

      Tell me about it!

      One of the schools I went to as a kid was a Steiner school where universally 'weird' is the 'norm', we're talking the whole lot of them (children/parents/teachers), yet I stuck out like a sore thumb for being even weirder than the rest, hence I was picked on and bullied on a daily basis and absolutely hated it there.

      So thankful I was moved to a normal school for the last 3 years of schooling, I discovered the computer room and was well happy (in the Steiner school television and computers were heavily frowned upon, and I had a ZX81 at the time...)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Real-lifers

      I worked in DAMPT and the institute of Theoretical astronomy at Cambridge and this sort of behavior wouldn't even raise an eyebrow.

    3. Moving Pictures
      Thumb Up

      Re: Real-lifers

      My wife and I have god-kids with autism that makes Rain Man look normal. As a result of working with them (to give their mum a rest twice a week) for the last 14 years and getting more and more interested in the topic, she's become quite a highly trained special needs teacher and works with all kinds of people on the autism spectrum (Aspergers being a severe sub-set of autism)

      Once you get to know the kids and what works for them, you get to understand that they're actually pretty cool behind the walls. If you apply normal rules of society on them you'll get nowhere. They're all different in their triggers and interactions so a post-it smiley will work for some, but not others. You have to tailor your interactions to the individual.

      According to her, my dad and I are both "on the spectrum" but not so far that you'd notice without prolonged interaction.

      I just wish teachers for normals had the same level of attention to borderline cases like me and my dad as my wife does to her "specials". We were both written off at school as difficult, intractable, stubborn etc and went on to graduate with honors from McGill in Mining Engineering. Once we were exposed to our "thing" and not forced into doing stuff we hated (Shakespeare in particular and anything not physics or engineering or maths) then we really pulled ahead of the crowd.

      As for the haters, AS is much much more common than you think. Just about everyone has it and it's not "jumping on the bandwagon" or "being cool". It's just not a big deal for 90% of cases. Not like my god-kids.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't think I'm on the spectrum

    But I have some insight into how you guys must feel because I do suffer a very specific inability to recognise people's faces. I'm better at voices so I can often tell who everybody is in a teleconference, but I might struggle to recognize some of them in the office, and especially if I met them elsewhere, like in a shopping centre.

    Once I failed to recognise my dad when he came to the house. Another time I started chatting to a woman I really did recognize, but assumed she was one of my mature students. The lady, to her enormous credit, greeted my like an old friend and chatted for 5 minutes before going on her way only for my friends to fall about laughing and ask how it was that I knew Zoe Wanamaker. Of course, I had just seen her on TV, like everybody else.

    Not knowing who somebody is when they approach you in the office is pretty terrifying, even though I have some of the other social skills required to make light of the situation and usually to escape relatively unscathed. In fact, I have even taken to introducing myself as suffering from this condition and apologizing in advance when I meet new people. I wonder if it would help you guys if you could take the same sort of approach? Although I realise it might be a lot harder if you also suffered social anxiety, so maybe not a very useful suggestion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't think I'm on the spectrum

      Whew. I thought it was just me.

    2. Anonymous Coward 15

      Re: I don't think I'm on the spectrum

      Isn't that a separate disorder in its own right?

    3. squigbobble
      Alert

      Re: I don't think I'm on the spectrum

      That sounds like you've had a stroke that's wiped out the bit of your brain that recognises faces. A quick google turned up this- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia

      1. keithpeter

        Re: I don't think I'm on the spectrum

        @Squigbobble glad you posted that, my first reaction to AC 12:35's post was 'stroke'

        AC 12:35: Have you always had this difficulty or was there a time when faces were not a problem?

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I don't think I'm on the spectrum

      I've got incredibly bad eyesight. So I can recognise faces, mostly, but it takes a good while. And most of it I suspect is from clothing (I've a great memory) and posture and clues. I'm good with voices too.

      I've had complaints from people that I acknowledged you and you ignored me. Well yes, you made eye contact from across a room - but since I probably didn't notice you, and I certainly can't see your eyes from any further than a couple of feet - so nope, I wasn't ignoring you. I've read and heard about eye contact (all that subtle muscle movement), but I've not the faintest idea what it means, because I've never seen it. In fact i'ts one of the way that visual problems get diagnosed. Parents see the developmental bods because their babies aren't smiling, and the reason is they're not seeing parents expressions, and so not learning them.

      But it can make social situations awkward. I've no idea how much body language I'm giving off, as I haven't learnt much of it naturally from observation. And I can't see much of anyone's anyway. Which can make for similar issues. I don't do eye contact, but as an adult I've realised that I need to look at people's faces when talking to them. Which for some reason I find slightly uncomfortable, but it should make them feel better - and costs nothing to me really. Also when to interrupt and jump into a conversation is a subtle art I can't get, and I suspect people cue each other with body language I'm not seeing. Cheating bastards! It's all a conspiracy I tell 'ee!

      At least I've got the advantage of getting the social cues from tone of voice, and being able to respond in kind. Which means I'm likely to do a lot better on first meeting with someone I've talked to on the phone - where I've already made my first impression.

      One of the things I've thought recently is that education didn't really bother to do a great job of equipping me for life. Particularly the special needs folks. Sure getting the tech right was important, so I've got all the gizmos to be able to read, and cope with school blackboards and train departure boards. But no-one ever talked to me about how to cope with bullying or a world that communicates in some sort of bizarre code by waggling the muscles surrounding their eyes. I saw many an educational psychologist, and did lots of tests, answered questions and jumped through hoops. But none of them every said anything to me that wasn't part of their assessment. So I'm not sure how much use all of it was. I think they should have sent me to acting classes. I'm sure I could have picked up a bit of facial expressions for dummies, and learnt to fake a convincing smile. If it's really true that first impressions count for so much, then this would have been far more use than anything else I got from the special needs mob.

      As it happens I've just made it up as I went along. As we all do with growing up of course. And developed a thick hide. I reckon I could even take the number of downvotes Eadon regularly got without it affecting me at all. Hmmm, thinks, perhaps I should step into his shoes and test this out...? Although I admit I do still take it personally when a web designer / magazine designer decides that dark brown text on a light brown background is readable.

      As someone who does run the IT for a small business, I think there fewer hurdles to jump here, than in the corporate world. We don't have the skills, or the time to shop around. If we can get good word-of-mouth, and the price is reasonable, we're quite likely to go with someone, whatever first-impression they might make. So long as we think they've got an idea what they're talking about. Also there are fewer people competing for our trade, whereas big business can't move for salesmen eager to take their wonga.

      I do wonder though how much of that first-impressions stuff that the trick-cyclists give us is true. It's not my impression of life that almost everyone judges all the people they meet within 10 seconds. Or that this judgement isn't reviewed every few minutes for a good long while.

      1. Denarius Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: I don't think I'm on the spectrum

        @!Sparticus.

        same thing, bad eyes not diagnosed and fixed when young. Coped with my confusing body language by habitually being formal as it seemed to cause the least hassle. Also did a useful course on reading body language. A whole new way of gathering information I was unaware of by nature. That helped a lot in recognising the rambling on speech problem. Watch the iris size. If it shrinks, shut up.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: I don't think I'm on the spectrum

          Watch the iris size. If it shrinks, shut up.

          Denarius,

          Interesting. Sadly my eye problem isn't fixable. Mind if I give you a kiss? If I wanted to check your iris size, I'd need to be that close. I suspect at which point I'd be getting much more visible body-language signals to warn me off...

  8. Hairy Airey

    Not only do I have Asperger's - I was sacked from Cancer Research UK on the grounds that I "would not fit in", the very problem. The court service have been awful about it - Lord Justice Ward told me "you're not disabled - you should be pleased you're not disabled". A totally disgusting attitude. I've had CRUK staff assault me, been verbally abusive, they've been capricious and even offered me my job back "for a joke".

    Only this week I've had an email from Cambridge University turning me down for a job on the basis that I was dismissed from CRUK - so both of them are going to employment tribunal now.

    Read more at http://facebook.com/nodismissalfordisability

    1. squigbobble
      FAIL

      ?!

      Very charitable.

      And a Uni rejecting you for being clinically eccentric... wtf? I thought eccentricity was a prerequisite for Oxbridge.

      1. RoboJ1M
        Thumb Down

        Re: ?!

        No, you're thinking of "money".

  9. Hairy Airey

    Oops - I meant "the very problem that those with Asperger's have"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Details.

    They're everything, I love getting into the details of subjects that interest me but they can also be my downfall because I can get too involved with the details to see the whole picture and I can abandon electronics projects because I can't get one or two details 'just right' and end up being extremely frustrated when 'ok' would've been fine.

    A very good friend of mine knows how to deal with me and my Aspergers when it comes to wanting occasional small tech jobs done, usually computer work such fixing/replacing/upgrading hardware and capturing in analogue video for converting to DVD/PC with full-on cleanup, but I could not work for a large company full-time because I would need someone as a dedicated 'job minder' who would be the only person I deal with in the company as a 'mediator/buffer' between me corporate, and most businesses wouldn't be able to accomodate such a situation so I'm stuck on disability living allowance despite my tech skills.

    1. squigbobble
      Thumb Up

      Re: Details.

      There's work from home jobs out there, anything involved in DTP typesetting is larger done by freelancers working from home.

      How about freelancing as a video clean up person? "Digitise your wedding Betamax tape!" and so forth. There's plenty of companies around that digitise old photos so somebody somewhere will be prepared to drop some cash on getting a video converted if it's not a ridiculous sum of money. Get your friend to help with the organisation and comms, you've already got the most, if not all of the gear.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Details.

      If you can find someone who likes the selling, but not the techy stuff, then maybe you can do IT for a small company. There's a lot of really useful IT out there now, and a lot of small companies who know they should be using it, but can't understand it. So there are good opportunities out there dealing with the small companies, for a techy (however socially inept) and a hybrid techy/salesy type.

      Finding the people to work with is the problem of course.

  11. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    "One of the reasons that I am so damned good at what I do in IT is that computers don’t talk."

    I always said that English was my 2nd language. The thing is that no-one else speaks what would be my first language. I particularly remember a programmer who explained that software engineers don't eat Quiche because you can't buy it from a vending machine. (that would mean interacting with someone!)

    I think that a lot of people who excel at what they do, do so because they are slightly differently wired to "the rest". I've worked with a few people who were at various points on the autism spectrum. I remember one who could tell you the frequency of an audio signal to within about 10Hz up to about 10kHz and within 100Hz upto about 20k. That included picking out 3 or 4 from a really horrible screaming noise source at the same time.

    Then there are people who can't filter out anything at all, and therefore can spot patterns and potential problems that others miss (possibly somewhere on the physchotic scale).

    The biggest problem is people who have predjudices against anyone that isn't "like they are" and therefore cause problems for those of us who have problems interacting socially. I had to physically train myself to act a bit more "normally". To show facial expressions when people look at me, things like that. A friends sister used to call me "the axe murderer" because I never showed any reactions; charming girl!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Me Too

    I was diagnozed with Aspergers when I was in senior school, and I've found I agree with much of what was said in this article. There are a few things I'd like to note though, which may help if you work with / manage somebody with aspergers

    1: Body language. I don't get it. Don't give body language hints of boredom because I just don't know they're there. If I'm boring you just tell me to shut up (in a more polite way) I know I ramble on, i normally realize about half an hour after the conversation is over, but that's a fair bit too late.

    2: Don't give me a brief. If you tell me to fix a, I will fix a. It might make sense to you that, while fixing a, I should have also fixed b c and d. It doesn't make sense to me. I do what I'm told to the letter, I'm getting better at spotting the other bits you assume I'd do, but I'm not a mind reader.

    3: Please for the love of god don't distract me. When I start coding I get on a roll, when that happens I can normally get a weeks work done in a matter of hours. However every time I get on a roll, somebody comes ove rand talks to me. Once that roll is lost, it's lost. Congratulations by talking to me for 5 minutes about something I don't care about you've just made my workload last much longer. (This may be true for non asperger folks too)

    4: Don't push your opinion on me. Others may happily comprimise that 'yeah I suppose I could write a use case for that' I will not. Why do I need to write a use case for "add button to do x" every piece of functionality involved is in tha tsingle sentence. There is a line, on one side it's worth doing design, and on the other it is not. Most of the work I do lands on the not, and I will object to doing pointless design work every time, no matter how illogical your arguements. Writing a full design document for one line of code is just redundant.

    5: Sometimes it's better that we agree to disagree. This goes with number 4. I will quite happily argue my point over and over and over again, I've had the arguement thousands of times and I've found counters to every arguement you have against me. You will not win, I may not either, hence why it's better early on to agree to disagree, saves so much time.

    6: I don't take compliments well, but I do take the other thing... erm... not compliments, rather personally. For some reason I can remember these 'non compliments' for many many many years. I even remember some of them from my teachers from when I was about 5 years old (20 odd years ago) vividly.

    7: Carrying on, I'm not into social stuff. As was said in the article I don't pick up on social queues, If your dog died don't expect me to realize you're upset, and try not to expect sympathy either. I'm not good at it. Two examples of this. A friend of mine burst into tears ove rsomething, my resposne was "I have no idea what to do in this situation... " and then remained silent and awkward for about 10 minutes while they cried. And the other time I just rambled on about something vaguely related, which was more like rubbing salt in the wounds. I've decided awkward silence is better.

    8: If I give you a very quick brief and sharp response, I'm nto trying to be rude, I'm just not good at holding a conversation so I'll end it as quickly as possible.

    There are many more points, and I really want to get to 10, but I have a meeting to get to.

    1. Woodgie

      Re: Me Too

      This, to the power of eleventybillion!

      We need an "El Reg Unit of Agreement" that I can use here.

    2. wigginsix

      Re: Me Too

      Everything about your post is win to me, but this struck such an intense chord:

      "6: I don't take compliments well, but I do take the other thing... erm... not compliments, rather personally. For some reason I can remember these 'non compliments' for many many many years. I even remember some of them from my teachers from when I was about 5 years old (20 odd years ago) vividly."

      My wife gives me compliments and wonders why I get embarrassed. She tells me that she's proud of me and I have to remind myself that she's being genuine not patronising. I wont remember a compliment after about 2minutes, but criticism will stay with me for years. I use it as the fuel for my fire and to help drive me to improve.

      As far as arguing goes, most people don't realise how hard it is for us to form any kind of a social bond and when we argue we burn bridges. I refer to it as the scorched earth policy. Nobody wins in an argument with an Aspie. Ever. Everybody always loses, especially the Aspie.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @wigginsix

        I give you compliments all the time, and you'll damned well accept them because "YES, SIR!" :)

        Seriously though, it's nice to see the vultures around here being so very accepting. You're good people, my friend. I'm glad they see in your writing the same intelligence and potential that I do. Three cheers for Aaron!

        Okay, now that I've been the evil friend by complimenting you when I know it makes you flustered, I'll shut up.

    3. VinceH Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Me Too

      @AC 12:59

      Have an infinite number of upvotes, heavily compressed into one.

    4. t.est

      Re: Me Too

      Interesting, then I don't have a clean Asperger diagnosis. I have a ADHD with traits of Asperger diagnosis.

      After medication for the ADHD part I would say the Asperger side of it has become stronger.

      I can't read faces, very well, but body language especially when it comes to people who have no self esteem I see through them just like that on a distance, they can't fool me, I do read animals rather well, (one of the worlds finest Autism researcher is an Autistic herself, she, Temple Grandin, gets along with cows very well).

      I spot patterns easily, patterns that most people don't realise at all, and if cannot connect them to certain traits or issues. For me that process is done within in seconds (while formulating them to understandable text takes longer), for other mates it may take weeks of thinking and pondering over. Most usually they never understand what I try to tell them, they have to take their time to figure it out. The funny thing is that it's not always logical, I just get it and then I start to search for the logical reason behind. This would probably be due to the blend of ADHD that is involved. I'm quite artistic and been working with DTP until I settled for engineering.

      I'm not completely socially handicapped, usually I can come along great with many. But then it happens that I piss them off on something I have no clue of why and how. I treat those usually as not worthy to spend any more time on, if they want to be pissed over some non relevant issue that's all up to them.

      I usually don't get angry at any person, but I get angry if they don't stand for what they say, or act differently than they themselves think should be done. I shun politics at my workplace, and anyone that consume their time with "political" matters, should be sacked IMO. Well I do realise, that's not how this world works. And sometimes just because of them I do have a workplace to go to. But it's just plain wrong it is that way.

      I can't take compliments well either, I get uncomfortable, I just did what was expected of me, nothing more nothing less, why give me compliments for doing my job?

      I don't take criticism well either, constructive criticism that don't involve a person or me directly I'm fine with. But few are able to criticize anything without making it to a personal criticism. If I don't agree with the criticism I take it personally, as the one criticising are way of the board, and usually just plain wrong.

      On the other hand I'm very self critical and always try to mend my self to the better. Which is exhausting.

      Empathy:

      One example a friend of mine got hurt while we played soccer, my reasoning line was the following:

      -Check do we need an ambulance? -No!

      -Check do you need to be carried? -No!

      -Check can you drive your car back home? -Yes, after some rest!

      -Why the heck did you go on like that, of-course it would only result in this!

      That's empathy in action IMO ;P

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Me Too

        OP here, and this one turns more ranty in places, I apoligize in advance.

        Anyway. I'm kind've with you on the hanging out with people. A lot of my friends like me because I'm genuine. I've never seen the point in putting on different personas, I'm just myself. It's gotten me in trouble quite a few times (normally because I can be very blunt), and to get by in work I've had to teach myself social queues.

        As a work anecdote, I almost got fired from a department store job. At the end of the day after cashing up the tills I had to take the money upstairs to the cash office. This happens every day at 5, and the manager knows this. Got up there at 5, and she was nowhere to be seen. Called her and she told me to go back up in half an hour. I sighed and hung up. The store manager was there at the time and asked why I was annoyed. I explained that I was told to come back again in half an hour. His response was along the lines of "Well did you call ahead first?" to which my response was. "No, she's been a manager on this shift for as long as I've worked here (3 years at the time) she knows that the resteraunt closes half an hour before the rest of the store, and she knows we have to take the cash up here. I assumed she'd know by now what time we take the cash up." To which I got an earful about how I shouldn't expect her to drop whatever she's doing at my beck and call. My response was farily sharp, along the lines of. "No, I expect her to do her job. I'm currently standing here with over 2k in cash, money which I am not to my knowledge insured to keep hold of. Technically by law, as we close the resteraunt when the store is open security should come down with a sealed case to take the money on our behalf, and then store the money in the security office until the cash office opens." apparently I had an attitude problem for expecting people to know what their jobs were... Yes I'm still bitter over it.

        I've tried to explain to friends before that, a lot of social interactions don't come naturally to me. While somebody might be able to work their way through a social situation they aren't accustomed to, I cannot. If I've observed how others react I can get a rough idea of how I should react, otherwise I'm like a deer in the headlights. (I think the best example of this, if a little exagerated, is sheldon cooper from TBBT. How he's been told what not to do in certain social situations etc)

        As an example of this, I went to a friends house when his nephew was over (nephew is about 8... i think) and his nephew hugged me. My response was to freeze, because I just couldn't process how to respond. Luckily my mate knows I'm crap at social stuff and told his nephew not to hug weirdos (me).

        Likewise there are other social situations where, although I've learnt the social cues, there are too many. I can't really process more than one at a time and again if I'm flooded with various social stimulus I freeze up because I can't figure out how to respond, who to respond to etc.

        Anyway here's the last few points to get me to 10.

        9: I expect others to do their jobs correctly. My above rant is evidence of this. I'm hired to do my job, and I do it. I do not appreciate having to do my job, and yours, and ted down the streets. If it isn't in my job description I will get more and more annoyed each time I'm asked to do it.

        10: Back to the social, I don't hate you. I've actually had people ask me if they've pissed me off before because I haven't spoken to them in a few weeks. Simply put, I've had no reason to speak to them, so I haven't. It isn't meant to be taken as offensive, I just... Don't see the point in interacting for the sake of social ettiquette. On the other side of it, I can meet people I haven't spoken to in years, and begin talking to them like it was only yesterday we met up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Me Too

          OP again. Just one final thing. One of the things I absolutely hate with a passion.

          "Oh it's not his fault, he has aspergers."

          I have actually let rip on a mother for this before. Her child had stolen something from a store, picked it up, put it in his pocket and went to walk out. The store owner stopped him, and that was his mothers response. I quite literally blew a fuse at that point, and began ranting at her that aspergers doesn't make a child a thief, it doesn't make him less aware of what is right and wrong, if anything it makes him more aware of it because his brain operates more logcailly in black and white.

          If he stole anything it's not because of aspergers, it's because you're a terrible parent who will make up excuses for your darling child who can't do any wrong in your eyes. News flash, Aspergers doesn't make you a thief, the best way of putting it is he's socially retarded.

          I don't know why I went all out on it, it just really really ticked me off for some reason.

          It's even worse when you get people older, like late teen / my age (mid twenties) who still use it as an excuse for everything. I have aspergers, I don't broadcast it to everyone. I try to fit in, even though it's hard. People who don't even bother trying just argh. I even heard somebody at school use it as an excuse for why they didn't do their homework.

          As daft as it may sound, i'm actually getting quite angry just thinking about this so I'm going to stop now before I punch my keyboard. Good day.

          1. networkboy

            Re: Me Too

            Yes. This is absolutely true. My son is autistic and I am Aspie. We both have a very strong delineation of right and wrong, however, not always does it align with societal norms.

    5. Moving Pictures

      Re: Me Too

      Oh my god! Me too.

      #7 brings back memories...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    oh fuck

    "...If I care about something, I care about it to the point of minutiae. If I don’t care, then as far as I'm concerned it may as well not even exist. ..."

    Did you just diagnose me with Aspergers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: oh fuck

      And after reading the rest of the comments, I think I fit in just fine.

    2. t.est

      Re: oh fuck

      That is just maybe one trait of it, it could also be that you would care about everything just as much.

      As for me there are no end to my interests (wikipedia is a dangerous place), except then socialising at the workplace with my workmates, that are just my workmates. That's my interest in them, not anything else. I'm not particularly interested either in my friends kids. But if anyone needs an answer to any question they may have, I will make sure they get an answer to it. Usually whether they want it or not.

      Quite recently there has been confirmed that Autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, Bipolar syndrome and chronic depression are linked to a gene mutation. And my doctor says that the diagnosis you have could change. So anyone with this mutation can end up with one diagnosis or a blend of those above mentioned and is not static.

      A few Asperger diagnosed people do not have the social difficulties while others have extreme difficulties.

  14. dogged

    Little Johnny's name

    Have you considered that it may be "Johnny"?

    I don't suffer from anything fashionable. Chronic degenerative monochromachia is too much of a gobful to be trendy.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Little Johnny's name

      "Fashionable?" Have you ever considered that increased diagnosis of mental disorders comes largely from an increased awareness of the disorder and more accurate tools for performing the diagnosis?

      As for you, you do indeed seem to suffer from something quite trendy. It's called crainiorectal inversion.

      1. dogged

        Re: Little Johnny's name

        @Trevor

        Harsh. "Fashionable" and "trendy" are accurate descriptions for a diagnosis that approaches the mode.

        Ten years ago, the fashionable diagnosis was ADD. Twenty years ago it was dyslexia.

        While it's a good thing that genuine cases get diagnosed, self-diagnosis led by media-hype and anxious/desperate/"oh it's not his fault, he's got"-style parenting lead to false diagnoses which can actually be damaging towards genuine cases.

        "Craniorectal inversion" might be something you think is a funny thing to accuse somebody with but a clear and unemotional (I do not have Asperger's or autism of any form and unlike some commenters, do not want them either) view i something that's unaffected by the increasingly monochrome world that I inhabit.

        I suggest you may be suffering from pedal ingestion.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          @dogged

          No, actually, I can see both feet. They're down there, far away from my mouth. I reiterate: you've got your head up your ass. The world changed. We became more able to recognize a disease and we also became able to recognize that it isn't black and white; it exists on a spectrum with some people having it worse than others.

          You are using it merely as a way to discriminate against others. In this case: those who have (or likely have) some form of Asperger's but isn't "as bad" or "as prominent" as you feel it needs to be in order to be labelled. Well who the fuck are you and why should we give half a bent shit about your opinion on the matter?

          More to the point, where - exactly - do you get off diagnosing people over the internet, only through short text comments to say if they do or don't have Asperger's?

          Remove cranium from sphincter then talk.

          1. dogged

            @Trevor

            A commentard further up suggested that Asperger's is seen as a good thing here, not me.

            I haven't diagnosed anyone, nor am I likely to.

            More to the point, where - exactly - do you get off reading content into my posts that I didn't put there?

            Fashionable diagnoses are a real issue. I'm married to a doctor, her mates are round here all the time. I get to hear about it. Presumably you're upset because it's a condition you like or identify with? Have I done the equivalent of slag off a Sony product in front of Barry Shitpeas?

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: @Trevor

              Both my parents are psych nurses. My family is littered with psychologists, psychiatrists, psych nurses and sociologists. "Fashionable diagnoses" is not nearly the problem you make it out to be, at least not outside of the god 'ol USA. You see, in countries where patient outcomes are the measure of success - not the amount of money that can be charged per incident - this is way less of a problem then you seem to be making it out to be.

              There is a very real risk of mental health professionals diagnosing someone with Asperger’s when they meet only some of the criteria and that is indeed something we need to keep pushing education on. That said, however, few people actually want to be diagnosed with this, though you are correct in noting that many here on The Register identify with it.

              Why that shocks you I simply don’t understand. Autism spectrum disorders – including Asperger’s – affect only a small portion of our society…but “IT professionals” only make up a small portion of our society. People with disorders like Asperger’s eventually end up somewhere. There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that they disperse throughout the working population with the same statistical frequency as they disperse in the general population.

              Quite the opposite: all evidence to hand indicates that individuals with Autism spectrum disorders gravitate in a highly disproportionate manner to the STEM and music disciplines, with IT having taken the lion’s share in the last 25 or so years. (Music is often hypothesised to be a repository of Autistics because of the very mathematical nature of the craft.)

              You are diagnosing people without a license. You are accusing them of – for lack of a better term – lacking on to something you view as “fashionable” and self-diagnosing. You don’t have any actual evidence that people here are doing this, but you keep reiterating this. As though by restating your falsehoods over and over you can somehow make them true.

              There is a damned good chance of finding a highly disproportionate number of individuals with Asperger’s – or who at least have some traits of Aspergers and live elsewhere on the Autism spectrum – amongst El Reg’s commentardiat. Your personal predjudices and unfulfilled fantasies about “fashionable diagnoses” won’t make individuals with living with Asperger’s any less frequent here, it won’t make them more likely to have self-diagnosed nor will it make real the delusion that people want to be diagnosed with Asperger’s.

              You want to know why I’m angry? It’s because I watched my parents devote their lives to dealing with mental illness in the everyday community. I watched them deal with prejudice from the assholes and the well-meaning, even with prejudice from practitioners.

              The worst prejudice of all is the very Protestant belief that mental health issues are either non-existent…or so very rare that people who feel they should get checked out once in a while are somehow lazy, unworthy, “seeking a quick out/excuse” or otherwise morally or ethically bankrupt. The worst prejudice that exists regarding mental health is the outright fallacy that you can simply “will yourself normal,” or that there even is a “normal” to will yourself towards!

              You say ADHD used to be a “fashionable” diagnoses. Yet outside the US the rates of diagnoses never really dropped off much. We simply learned more about how prevalent it really was. We learned to deal with it in a number of fashions, that is existed on a spectrum of impact and we began to accept it as “normal” within our cultural framework. We are on the cusp of this with Asperger’s today.

              The more we learn about the human mind the more we realise that “normal” is an ephemeral myth; one that we keep chasing to no tangible end. We are all so different that the best we can hope for is to establish a relatively arbitrary set of error bars around behaviour, neurotransmitter levels, membrane permeability and so forth then try to keep the bulk of our population within those points.

              The very last thing anyone trying to deal with Asperger’s – which entails a lifetime of learning to cope with it so as to be accepted by “normal” society – needs is some asshole accusing them of faking it…or their doctors of misdiagnosing them due to “fashion.”

              You sir, are that asshole.

              Given the prejudice that my extended family have collectively given lifetimes to combatting, I find your choice of words, your manner, your approach, your lack of empathy and your outright prejudice offensive.

              Help, don’t hinder. It’ll make you a better person.

              1. dogged
                Stop

                Re: @Trevor

                The very last thing anyone trying to deal with Asperger’s – which entails a lifetime of learning to cope with it so as to be accepted by “normal” society – needs is some asshole accusing them of faking it…or their doctors of misdiagnosing them due to “fashion.”

                You sir, are that asshole.

                Actually, I'm not. I haven't diagnosed or accused anyone and I am somewhat at a loss to understand why you continue to accuse me of doing so.

                Lack of empathy? Granted. Never had much of that. But false accusations from me?

                Quote it or climb down off that high horse before you get a nosebleed.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @Trevor

                  If I may interject.

                  Being an Aspie doesn't mean you're without feeling, only that triggers and reactions are sometimes different. Let me extract meaning from Trevor's reasonably short responses - I know where he's coming from.

                  @dogged, I suspect you're not quite aware of what you said that triggered the response - you started off with a statement that made it appear you considered the afflictions at hand as "fashionable", thus dismissing something that actually affects a LOT of people as a mere fad. The irony is that you thus tragically illustrate exactly why it has only recently become acknowledged as an issue. That's not fashion, that's late diagnosis of life affecting afflictions.

                  Hence Trevor blowing up.

                  There are whole schools full of kids that are termed "difficult" instead of being properly recognised with ADHD and/or Aspergers (they often occur together, but are totally different things with their own effect). Those kids are facing a life of no chances whatsoever, and many here have already been through that misery. That's why declaring any of the topics at hand as en passant as "fashionable" is IMHO seriously off - read ANY of the stories and you see it's a serious matter that is extremely fundamental to a lot of people here.

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Little Johnny's name

      If you are looking for something fashionable, then acute logorrhea is a good choice.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gary McKinnon's story...

    "To explain, I’m a living breathing walking encyclopedia on a few, narrow and extremely limited topics. If I care about something, I care about it to the point of minutiae. If I don’t care, then as far as I'm concerned it may as well not even exist."

    "One of the reasons that I am so damned good at what I do in IT is that computers don’t talk. They don’t expect me to know that they have three kids, two in high school and one in primary, or to remember to ask about them during my weekly, fortnightly or monthly site visit...They don’t ask me how my day is going and expect me to realise that it's not an invitation for an in-depth discussion on what I learnt about Nutanix."

    Thanks for taking the time to explain your situation. MSM reporting on Gary McKinnon's story never explained what living with this condition was like...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a reason why this is anonymous

    One was diagnosed a while ago (which is a stupid label btw).

    My shrunk said (I quote), it's not a condition or illness, your brain just works differently, as in some people have different shape heads.

    Formal education has always been 'challenging' shall we say, more for the teachers/lecturers than me, it took me a while to realise as a mature student that they don't want you to actually think that much on a BA course.

    Fortunately there are many aspie attributes I have which are extemely useful, at least they would be if I could hold down a 'proper job', which is why I now work for me, myself and I!

    Good article btw!

    1. t.est

      Re: There's a reason why this is anonymous

      "it took me a while to realise as a mature student that they don't want you to actually think that much on a BA course."

      I have never accepted this, why maybe I never failed math or physics that where a challange but the BS courses where they actually did not expect anything of me. I guess the teachers didn't even understood what i wrote down on some of those courses.

      1. wowfood

        Re: There's a reason why this is anonymous

        This reminds me of something at school. In infant school actually I used to read a lot. I'd read pretty much every book in class.

        Anyway we had the usual science question. "Do plants move"

        Yes they do. To which my teacher said I was wrong. I was not wrong, I was correct, and I proved it to her. Got up in the middle of class, walked up to a book on botany I'd read the day before, opened it up and read out loud. "Many plants move their stems, leaves and flowers in order to capture more or less sunlight as they require" the teacher argued that they meant moving as in changing location. I then argued that she hadn't defined that she meant moving location, only movement, where I was again correct and she was incorrect. That teacher didn't like me.

        And again, different teacher the question of. "If I drop 1 ton of feathers, and 1 ton of lead, which will hit the ground first." The answer is lead. No you're wrong, they weigh the same amount and will hit the ground at the same time. I argued that although they weigh the same, the wind resistance on the feathers would cause them to seperate and drift gradually to the ground, while the lead would have less air resistance and plummet straight down. Apparently I was wrong, I continued arguing with the teacher...

        And my most loved / hated lesson. Maths, more notably, simultanious equations.

        a+2b= -4

        2a+b= 1

        a = 2

        b = -3

        I'd then get the "how did you work it out?" Quite simply I didn't. I saw the equation, and I knew the answers. She then tried to argue that I wouldn't be able to do that for more difficult questions. She then put up on the whiteboard a question (i forget what exactly) where a=0.125 and b=-0.5. I got the answer before she had a chance to turn around and ask me to work it out.

        In spite of getting every question right, I failed class tests on simultanious equations because I didn't show my working out. I was also accused of copying other peoples work, in spite of finishing the test before most had finished the first two questions, of cheating somehow (still not sure on this). If they didn't require working out I'd have probably gotten an A* on my GCSEs rather than the B I wound up with due to lack of workings out (seriously dont' understand how people found maths hard)

        It was actually quite entertaining, my sister was, at the time, doing A level maths. She had one of the mock tests with her and was stuck on a simultainous equation. I answered it after looking at it for a few seconds. Her response was along the lines of "How the **** " to which I just shrugged.

        1. Anonymous C0ward
          Headmaster

          Re: There's a reason why this is anonymous

          No you're wrong, they weigh the same amount and will hit the ground at the same time.

          And if there is no air resistance, how much they weigh is irrelevant, because they will accelerate at the same rate under gravity. So in one case, the teacher is plain wrong. In the other case, she is right for the wrong reasons.

        2. squigbobble
          Unhappy

          Re: There's a reason why this is anonymous

          Hah, this reminds me of how I was practically branded a heretic (I only use that word 'cos it was a Catholic primary school) for using the word 'photosynthesis' instead of the rote 'it takes the light and turns it into food', with which I was forced to replace it. That school seemed to be as bent on reducing some pupils' performance down to the average it was to boosting the other half up to it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There's a reason why this is anonymous

          Here's me replying to a comment on my blurbage...

          Funnily enough I remem word for word an argument with a plonker teacher (when I was 9) about why I didn't write down the working out for maths stuff (I WAS always right), my retort was that because the teachers (rightly) pointed out that my handwriting was rubbish why should I waste our time by writing out something they couldn't read anyway.

          But I can write backwards with my left hand (but not forwards), can read upside down and back-to-front faster than most folk read normally.

          Oh, if I were to visit your office/home, any number of weeks/months later I could point out every single thing that has changed - even the bits you hadn't notice.

          Time to scoot off and do a new JSA claim online (as I don't need to talk to anyone....)

          My writing is still usually rubbish....

          Good here isn't it?

  17. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    A touch of Asperger's ...

    ... can be a good thing. Empathy is all too easily manipulated by MBA sociopaths.

    1. dogged

      Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

      Lack of empathy can also be easily manipulated.

      I find that outright misanthropy is the only surefire protective condition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

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

      2. Denarius Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

        @dogged: so you like the BOFH also ??

      3. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. RoboJ1M
        Trollface

        Re: A touch of Asperger's ...

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

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Anonymous Coward
    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 :)

    1. Denarius Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      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.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    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."

  21. Gert Leboski

    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) ;-)

    1. cyberdemon
      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!

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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).

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          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?

  22. networkboy

    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.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to Win Friends and Influence People

      "It is entirely possible to learn small talk."

      Tell that to the Germans.

  24. Arachnoid

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. squigbobble
      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...

      1. Christine Hedley

        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. :(

  25. Adam Davis

    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.

  26. Dimitrisv

    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.

    1. wowfood

      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

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asperger Syndrome diagnosis ..

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

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Facepalm

      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?

    2. Moving Pictures

      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!"?

  28. Uncle Siggy

    Welcome to Infrastructure King

    Your extremely specific infrastructure order is our mumble mumble.

  29. OzBob

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  31. jake Silver badge

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward 15

      Re: Can I make a meta comment?

      Itchy, itchy beard.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I make a meta comment?

      I presume this happened before the doctors fixed your squint

  32. wowfood

    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.

    1. Stuart Van Onselen

      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.

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      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.

      1. wowfood

        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.

      2. Stuart Van Onselen

        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.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  34. ewozza

    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.

    1. wowfood

      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.

  35. Trollslayer Silver badge

    A very important point had been made

    Difference are usually seen as problems.

    This article shows how differences and can be strengths.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    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

  37. Anonymous Coward
    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?".

  38. Spoonsinger

    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?

  39. TeeCee 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.

  40. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance

    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...

    1. squigbobble
      Meh

      Re: Some thoughts...

      "No one else in that pub ever forgave me though."

      This leads on (probably in a completely obtuse way that only works in my brain) to one of my pet annoyances about people who try to give you 'helpful' advice but clearly can't wrap their head around how much autism can affect you, partly 'cos a lot of the things it affects are handled subconsciously by most people:

      "If you want to learn to socialise you need to get down to the pub and mix with people."

      To me, this sounds like:

      "If you want to learn to drive you don't need to worry about books and lessons, just jump in an 80s Porsche and set off into the London morning rush hour."

      In either situation it's going to be a car crash, sooner or later.

      Also:

      "I can not stay in a room with pig-ignorant people - it offends my sensibilities."

      One of those times when you don't know if you're being autistic or just civilised :D

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