Aspergers Syndrome - Living as an Adult Aspie, 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.
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.
This article is part of a series, please read the others from my profile.
Thanks for reading.
More in this Series
- Aspergers Syndrome - Living as an Adult Aspie, Social Life
Aspergers Syndrome is connected to social problems, problems with social interaction, but what is often misunderstood is that Aspies actually crave the interaction, they just can't seem to get it right.
- Aspergers Syndrome - Living As an Adult Aspie
This is the first in a series of articles I've written, as an Aspie, to help explain how having Aspergers Syndrome affects daily living.
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!
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