People often tell me that I should write career advice for people with Asperger Syndrome. This is because I am surrounded by people who have Asperger's, and I have it myself. Please, do not tell me I don't have it. First of all, it looks very different in men and women, and most of you have experience with men. Second, I'm way more weird in person than I am on the blog. And surely you thought it was the other way around.
For example, I had to learn that a candy dish on someone's desk means “I like to talk with people.” Other people read this cue instinctively. It makes for a good blog post but an annoying co-worker if I don't teach myself stuff quickly.
I don't really do career coaching. I don't have patience. But often career coaches send people with Asperger's to me, because mostly, these people are extremely difficult to coach.
They are difficult to coach because the biggest problem is that non-verbal cues that are obvious to everyone else are totally lost on people with Asperger's. For example, you can tell when you are boring someone, but someone with Asperger's cannot—we just keep talking.
Here is a link about how important it is to be well liked. I write about this need all the time. It's obvious to people who are well liked, and impossible to understand if you are someone who is not well liked. That's precisely why you're not well liked. And this is the problem with Asperger's.
Note that the person who sent me this link is Sarah Kunst, (event manager at guestofaguest.com). The biggest difference between men with Asperger's and women is that women get help from other women, and men don't. So women with Asperger's are generally more high-functioning than men.
Sarah is a great example of a helper. I met her through my blog. Then I met her in NYC. She recognized me as someone who has trouble knowing what to wear, and what to do. So she gave me tips. Unsolicited, really. First makeup, then no cap sleeves, then a whole wardrobe. Men don't get this kind of help unless it's from a spouse who is desperate to keep the marriage together.
Note to parents: the most painful part of being an adult with Asperger's is not the lack of relationships. Really. I have a lack and I want to care, but I don't. And most people with Asperger's will tell you that the painful part of having Asperger's is not being able to work successfully.
So, this is an introduction post to this week's series: How to succeed at work with Asperger Syndrome. Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment.
(And, hat tip to Virginia, another friend who helps me navigate the world, and emails me good links!)