Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Say Cheese!

How important is it that those who work with my husband be made aware of his Aspie-ness? After all, chances are that they also have Aspergers Syndrome and thus may not even notice Steve’s differences in mode and operandi.
In a recent blog "catastraspie" discusses her decision to share with her office mates:
“I have Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and [manager] and I thought it might be helpful for people I work with to know a bit more about how it affects me as it varies between individuals.  Having AS means that I think differently to most people and although I have lots of strategies that I use, it sometimes means that I behave differently too, which out of context can be misinterpreted negatively as being rude, over-sensitive, unhelpful or aloof.
Four things that will probably help us develop the best working relationships are:
1.     Please be direct in communicating verbally with me – I don’t get hints, subtleties, nuances, reading between the lines, office politics, implied meanings etc, which are used more than words in communication.  I only have the words to go on, so please say what you mean and if you want me to know something or do something you need to tell me (explicitly specifying if information is sensitive or confidential).  An example would be saying ‘please close the window’ rather than looking cold or saying that you are cold.
2.     Please be specific about what you want – I sometimes ask a lot of questions that may seem obvious or trivial when you do tell me something.  This is not me being difficult, I simply want to understand exactly what you want in a way that fits with how my brain categorizes information.  An example would be specifying how many of something you would like, rather than ‘some’ or ‘several’.
3.     Please give me (constructive) feedback – if I haven’t done something the way you wanted, please tell me, otherwise I will do it the same way again next time.  Please also tell me if I have said the wrong thing.  I always like to do/say the right thing, sometimes I am not able to tell what that is without your help.
4.       Please don’t be offended if I don’t appear to be very sociable – I might not remember to say good morning or goodbye, I might not acknowledge you until you acknowledge me, and I might decline your offer of coffee or lunch, but that is because my social needs are very different to most people and very definitely not because I don’t like you or want to get to know you.  This aspect of my AS has caused me the most difficulties, because people apply their motivations for that action to my behavior, which are very different.
Just as every Aspie is unique, their specific symptoms, as well as their work environments, are also distinctively different. The Aspie needs to make this decide on his or her own according to their perceived need and situation. In the adult Aspie’s portrait to the world around them, it is up to the Aspie to select the ‘pose’ that is most comfortable.
With that said, please smile and say “Cheese”!

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