Aspergers Syndrome - Living as an Adult Aspie, Work Life

Work Life

Because Aspergers Syndrome is often accompanied by a superior intelligence, an Aspie makes a great employee. Aspies really excel when given a task to undertake and left to work on it independently. Work of exceedingly high quality is turned out. However, give an Aspie a badly formed task, without adequate resources and they can find it difficult to get started unless they know the full scope.

Scope is an important factor. An Aspie always has to know the scope and framework within which any task is to be undertaken.

Aspies Need A Framework Within Which to Work

To try to explain that, if you asked me to plan something I'd need to know quite a bit of detail. "Oh, the usual" just doesn't cut it because I don't know what the usual is. e.g. "Can you organise some sandwiches for lunch for us" isn't a task.

Autism Awareness Ribbon, by BL1961
Autism Awareness Ribbon, by BL1961

I might know there are going to be 12 people, but what about the detail? How many sandwiches? If I phone up the caterer round the corner then they might offer a choice of four mixed platters, so which one? Are there vegetarians? Or people with allergies? What about drinks to go with that? Do you need some flasks too, or will you be using the usual coffee machine and jugs of water in the meeting room? What's a reasonable cost? If a platter serves 5 people and costs £25, I'd need two, is £50 a reasonable cost? Or would you expect me to use my initiative and take £20 from petty cash and go to the CoOp and buy some packs of biscuits and sandwiches and cut the sandwiches into neat triangles and onto a bunch of plates from the kitchen? Certainly spending £20 rather than £50 would fit best with my personal opinions and lifestyle of getting the most for your money.

Aspies are Perfectionists

Once I know what's expected, it will be done. Perfectly. Any paperwork trail required will be managed and accounted for and I'd even come in and remove the plates/platters etc at an appropriate time and double-check everything's fine. So, set me a well-scoped project and it will be executed flawlessly and professionally, but I do need the scope and expectations, there is no "Oh the usual" with me. Just precision.

"Do what you think best" - again, having been given some scope, I can. But I can't just make up what's best. What if I were asked to organise an evening meal for visitors? I'd probably book you into the local pub's carvery ... whereas you were thinking of some intimate, 5-star restaurant. I'd think the chinese was best as it gives people choice, whereas you'd be horrified by that as you were trying to create an impression. Aspies don't create an impression, it's an alien concept. Therefore we don't know the rules of what creates an impression.

In a work situation, I look at the functional elements of performing the task efficiently. While there is some basic need for presentation, I don't grasp any concept of niceness, or impression. So I'd know that chucking a plastic carrier bag containing a pack of biscuits and 10 packs of sandwiches into a meeting room wouldn't count as lunch and would arrange them nicely on plates, with serviettes available, I'd not understand how a sandwich company round the corner that offered something similar on a couple of plastic platters and with a few sprigs of lettuce and tomatoes is what's "the usual". To me that's a waste of money above the function of need.

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Aspies are Super Organisers

Organising things are really what Aspies are all about. If you want something planning, coordintinating or organising, ask an Aspie.

Take something as simple as the office Xmas lunch at the local pub for example. It's not rocket science, but it does need doing properly - and efficiently. Some people, given the task, will not only spend a lot of time just talking to people about it, wasting time, but come the day there'll be confusion and a problem and they'll have quaffed back too much wine to be of any use, waving a hand in the face of some hapless waiter who is just trying to sort out the confusion... intent more on discussing the office gossip.

On the other hand, an Aspie, charged with organising the event would have contacted the venue, got the menu, checked out the details of the menu, created a nice list of people/meal options and time-efficiently got everybody's choices down. They'd then have tidied that up into the final list, published it so people knew what they'd ordered before it was too late to change their minds, then published it again on the day so people were reminded what they ordered. They'd then have a copy of the list in their bag ... and the event would go without a hitch.

Organising things, perfectly, efficiently, building contingency is, is what Aspies do best.

At the other end of the scale, ask an Aspie to plan and coordinate a huge multi-national project in the workplace, involving hundreds of people, thousands of pieces of equipment, dates, times, manpower, resources ... and an Aspie will not only do it with frightening speed and efficiency, but they'll also be 100% correct in their planning, which will be documented and available at the drop of a hat to be analysed whichever way you need it.

Aspies are not good people communicators, but they are superb communicators when it comes to sending out timely information that is succinct and precise. To Aspies this kind of complex interaction organisation work is just run of the mill, it's not rocket science to an aspie because they think logically, therefore to them the most complex of logistical tasks is "just obvious" and they'll have actually enjoyed the challenge of making it all fit perfectly.

Helping Adult Aspies

If you want to help adult aspies then you need to understand that they need time to digest information - if information is verbal they can get overwhelmed by it (e.g. directions to places, they might only remember the first two as after that they're struggling to remember the rest).

In helping adult aspies you also need to give them time to consider the options - decision-making can be slow as they have to feel they understand all the options and outcomes - and are often then stumped as there are too many options and they are scared to make the wrong choice. Even choosing a pizza topping in a brightly lit, unfamiliar pizza shop, with an unfamiliar menu is overwhelming.

Don't try to rush or hurry them!

Comments 10 comments

TMinut 6 years ago

This is an encouraging read; my son and I just had a long conversation last night about how to survive once he's old enough to work. He doesn't think he will because he's not "normal". This gives me a bit more to show how and where his skills and personality CAN work.

He hates to be sent into a store to get information because he doesn't know where to look, how to stand, etc. He asked, "Where do I look when I talk to him? Do I stare the whole time? Do I have to glance and then look away? Do I glance and keep looking back? And where are my hands supposed to be? Do I stand like this? I don't know what to do!"

We ended up last night watching one of my neurobiology lectures from the Teaching Company because he wants to understand what's going on in his brain that makes everything so hard.


earner profile image

earner 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Finding employment and jobs as an aspie doesn't have to be hard. I think for the younger generation they might be hampered by knowing they are aspies, they've had perhaps too much support and labelling.

I never knew I was an aspie, which meant I've lived my life just failing at some stuff and feeling upset and annoyed, but not knowing why. This is especially the case for jobs where an aspie is taken on to do one task for which they are perfectly suited, then is asked to undertake tasks which are not conducive to feeling great.

He has a head start and can optimise his good points. He needs to work out what he can do and can't do, but not to focus on the can't do stuff, but to simply realise that if he's asked to do that sort of work in the workplace that he points out he's an aspie and where he thinks he'll struggle and to ask for help overcoming those problems.

I am now earning a living online, through Huboages among other places, writing and earning money. Maybe he could find something he's interested in to do online.

There are lots of jobs in the real world he can do, it's more important to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you can't, then develop ways to avoid or work round what you can't do. But, building an income online will at least give a little cushion between jobs if he finds he's not very lucky at the employer/employee relationship.

I wish you both luck!


Sheila Wilson profile image

Sheila Wilson 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

This is something many people don't understand about Aspies. When people learn that my daughter has Aspergers, they often ask if she is in special classes at the high school. I say, yes, if you consider AP (Advanced Placement) classes for college credit to be "special classes." However, I have worked with some Aspie children who were on the lower end of the scale. It seems that Aspies are either brilliant and with genius or near genius IQ or low functioning. I have yet to meet an "average" Aspie.


Baileybear 6 years ago

Not all Aspies are superb organisers - my son and I aren't and I've read many struggle in this area. Maybe the more OCD-prone ones are?


Mark 6 years ago

Unfortunately, I am a typical aspie. I do not excel in science or math. I am not well organized. I don't have an above average IQ. I had to quit the only job that offered financial stability because of social anxiety and panic. If it weren't for my parents, I would be living on the street. Now at the age of 27, I sit in their basement while they work their 9-5 jobs. It's safe to say that aspergers has ruined my life. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, some people never make it to the bright end of the tunnel.


Sam 5 years ago

I am an Aspie as well, along with my mother and many of her relatives. I may be young, but I am one of those that have some level of OCD, social difficulties, higher IQ, and am often so quite because I have so many problems holding and continuing friendships or conversations. My mother has helped me understand what having Aspergers is and how to get over those difficulties. Unfortunately, it has no effect on my school life, with my social difficulties with other students of any age under 14. But I believe that learning through trial and error, sometimes with just random people, how to talk and behave appropriately. You should slowly ease into correcting behavior or speech, one step at a time and not think of it all at once, or you go into a panic like I would. Practice makes progress.


ThufirHowat 5 years ago

I wonder about aspergers, is it the disorder it is made out to be,for in many ways, it is a gift, but sometimes a nightmare. Could it be aspie just like many other 'disorders' is actually the differences in people, we all having aspects of ourselves which fit into a need in society. To demonstrate, find out what an aspie enjoys doing, for then that is where they will excel, put the aspie into a situation where they can enjoy what they do and watch them excel, now is that not an enhancement on society, but instead those that are diagnosed early are condemned to the psych profession where they provide nothing or little to society.

I got diagnosed at age 43, I was elated to find out there was a reason for my life's failures and a reason why I seem to excel in things others find difficult, but if the diagnosis had come earlier in my life, then maybe there would not have been the failures, for I would have known my strengths and weaknesses and tailored my occupation to where I was with ability, not followed everyone else. It is said that many aspies take jobs below their abilities, that is true of me and I have even lost jobs for thinking beyond my station, for it is clear aspies need constant input and challenges without which they become bored and lose interest.

But as an aspie, I have a high IQ, but seem to lack the ability to use it, I am also disorganised although I work best in chaos, a mess to others, perfectly mapped to me, tidy up, I need a mess again to know where things can be found. Other strenghts seem to be the ability to visualise in the mind any idea and examine that idea from all angles before committing to material. So my understanding is Design is where my personal attributes are best served, tis a pity I never followed that route, and that because I constantly fail with degree courses at college.


Bob 5 years ago

Women have it so easy. Aspie women don't need an education or job. They only need to exist.

Bitter? You bet. Nature screwed me.

Death will be a blessing.


Eve 4 years ago

I can honestly say having Aspergers Syndrome ruined my life. I cry everyday because I have it. This is just piece of writing is a load of false hope.


Dale 4 years ago

I'm a classic Aspie. I am a pharmacist and make a good

living, drive a nice car and my income lets me educate

my children. That is the good news.

My wife finds me an embarrassment at social events due

to my extreme shyness. In the workplace I talk too

much as I have no idea what is an appropriate amount of

talking and what subjects a normal person would be interested in. That is the bad news.

Soooo, being an Aspie I set out to find what I could do

about my difficulties. With the usual frightening laser-like ability to focus on a large project-in this case learning medicine. The fifth year I had a revelation.

I tested the concept I had stumbled upon in the office

and suddenly was able to interact at the genius level.

What was it I had discovered you ask? Just the Answer that has been discovered and discovered and discovered over and over by so many people.

People have two intelligences. They use both to solve daily problems. One is their ability to learn and think logically, the other is their emotions.

When faced with something they do not like, people go thru stages of resolution. Sometimes fast, sometimes they get stuck at a phase. They- deny the problem. Get angry. Try to bargain. Get depressed. Then accept the

Situation.

Sound familiar? The stages of grief.

Want more? The "box" - the four dimensional plane you could graph human behave on - has the axis's of Love vs. Hate. Imagination vs. conformity.

Love has five kinds due to the lumping together caused by using the word "love" in English. True love, child love, family love, friend love, altruism are all very different, but along the same spectrum.

Hate also varies - from generalized prejudice to more specific. You can fill in the details later. I did not want to contemplate evil.

Imagination is just wild ideas- like finding the uses for

a paperclip. Conformity is just rules accepted because one wants to fit in. One can be a conformist Hippie, for example.

Intelligence and memorizing are not the same thing. Understanding the concepts is intelligence.

In other words. The ability to find emotional balance

while being able to discern the real world as it is

will yield the ability to zip thru the 5 stages of emotional response to a problem and find true acceptance

and lack of emotional turmoil- with the improvement in the ability to get along with people and be a good friend.

Sound like Zen? It is. Why the constant discovery? We have a hypothalamus, which takes in the world and then generates the transcription factors that cause our DNA to

produce the chemicals that cause us to have behavior.

Tame the hypothalamus while being able to think and discern the world without distortion of a mind stuck in emotional turmoil and you have a Zen mind.

Now you will not go about sad about not being able to find friends. You will have emotional balance. They will

come to you and if you only talk enough to answer questions - you become valuable to them and they will want to say they know you and be with you.

Then use your peace to pursue your projects. At peace with being an Aspie. Soon, promotions will come, your house happier and you in a state that will allow you to

want to live in this world.

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