The first step to growing a good career in the face of Asperger’s Syndrome is to recognize that this is a social skills deficit, by definition, and work, by definition, is a social skills decathlon.

I have written before that for me, the biggest problem at work stems from my own sensory integration dysfunction — something that typically tags along with an Asperger’s diagnosis. But for someone with Asperger’s, it’s not enough to deal with sensory integration dysfunction; in order to succeed at the workplace, you need some guidelines for bridging the gap between other peoples’ social skills and your own.

So, based on my own experience, here are some concrete rules for doing better at work if you have Asperger’s, and maybe if you don’t.

1. Spend limited amounts of time with people.
One of the things that is alarming to non-Asperger’s people is how few friends and relationships people with Asperger’s have. But I have never heard anyone with Asperger’s lament this. (Temple Grandin is a good example.) It’s not something we feel a loss about. We only need a small amount of closeness in our life. What I do hear Asperger’s people sad about all the time is a lack of employment opportunity.

The way to improve this is to spend less time with people. We can be normal in small spurts. We can look charming and quirky in small doses but in large doses, it’s overwhelming. So go out to dinner, but then go home. Go to the company picnic, but just talk with people for a little bit. Then leave.

At work you do not need to spend tons of time with people. You can be the weird, smart one. As long as you’re not too weird. Get along with people for a little. Then go back to your cube.

2. Don’t tell your boss.
People don’t care about your random, personal crap. I know, that’s crazy to say on this blog. But I’m entertaining or useful, and when I’m at my best, I’m both. Also, your boss won’t know what to do. She can’t read 400 pages on Asperger’s.

Instead, ask your boss questions about social situations. For example, at Brazen Careerist, we just closed a small round of funding. And my boss, our new CEO, sent a thank you to the investors. I emailed him to find out: Should I send a thank you as well? And he said yes. So I did.

When you ask specific questions about social situations, your boss will appreciate that you know you don’t know. And your boss will think you’re coachable. That helps when your boss sees you being a social moron. The biggest problem with people who have poor social skills is that they don’t know what they’re missing, so they are not coachable. You will differentiate yourself from this crowd when you ask for help.

Ryan Paugh has great social skills. So I ask him a lot of questions, and I watch him. When Ryan Healy’s parents came to visit, I knew I needed to talk with them, because I was the CEO. I know that’s a social rule. But I absolutely completely could not figure out what to say. I listened to Ryan Paugh go first. He said, “What do you have planned for the weekend?”

That was a great line. I wouldn’t have thought of it. But I know for next time.

People who are typical will think this is an easy conversation to have. They’ve had it before, in another form. People with Asperger’s cannot generalize social rules. We have to learn the thing to say in every single situation.

3. Be great at what you do, and a little odd.
I write obsessively about how important it is to to be a star. It is actually more important for people with Asperger’s. This is the only way to stay employable. You will always be difficult to deal with. You need to make it worth everyone’s time.

Often, people who are really likable don’t have to be good at what they do. People just love being around them. And it’s fair, because someone who everyone likes actually does make the team more productive.

Many people who work with me know that I’m weird. The first thing Ryan and Ryan said when they got to Madison was that I am totally eccentric. They put up with it. They stayed because I have built such a good career for myself. They wanted to work with me because of that, so they excuse the poor social skills.

By the time you get to the mid-point in your career, it’s clear that the people who stand out as great at what they do are also weird, and they are thinking in odd ways. It’s what makes them stand out. So the more successful you are in your career, the more okay it is, and the more expected it should be, for you to be odd.

4. Do office politics by being totally direct.
There is office politics in every office. Because office politics is about how people get along. If you have Asperger’s, there is not a good way for you to know all the nuances—we don’t understand mean, vindictive, passive aggressive, these are all way too complicated. So we don’t do them. This should make people like us, if we do it right. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that much of how I act comes off as mean, even if this is not my intention.

So you need to really look at peoples’ faces. And if you get a bad reaction when you say something, even if you think it’s not a bad thing to say, you need to stop and ask if you hurt someone’s feelings. I ask this four or five times in any given day. “Are you angry?” Most of the time people are surprised that I don’t know. But I keep asking. There is no other way to find out.

5. Don’t get frustrated by the rules.
Recently, I’ve been reminded about how hard it was to learn business rules because I had to learn dating rules. I got frustrated about dating. Like I’ll never learn. For four dates I didn’t understand why people drink on a date. I don’t understand why you don’t say at the beginning of the date if you want to have sex at the end, so you know what you’re leading to. But I tried to just do what other people are doing. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I just try to fit in.

There are rules like this for the office, as well. Just follow them. Don’t ask for any rationale. It won’t make sense. That’s okay.

114 replies
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  1. maybe
    maybe says:

    I must grudgingly concede that I do have Asperger’s Syndrome, and your suggestions are great. The difficulties you describe are in line with my own. Thanks….

  2. Tony Treacy
    Tony Treacy says:

    Why bother trying to be less annoying? Why can’t you be yourself and if that annoys others – so be it!

    Am I missing the point? Or have I just nailed it?

    Either way (I’m sure there’ll be comments), we all have to learn how to get along together whilst keeping our individuality.

  3. Feel bad but agree
    Feel bad but agree says:

    Soooo wish I could send this to my AS colleague who sits near me. Is very nice but incredibly difficult to work with and, honestly, just quite annoying.

    After a few turbulent months, we have all settled down happily but it involved me basically getting two desks to limit my exposure.

  4. Jeffrey Deutsch
    Jeffrey Deutsch says:

    Hello Tony Treacy,

    Marilyn Moats Kennedy, a world-renowned expert on office politics, hit the nail on the head in her _Career Knockouts: How to Battle Back_ thirty years ago when she said: (p. 36)

    If you want to do your own thing exclusively, start your own business and sell to others who agree with you in every respect, providing always that you find such people. Failing that, you are going to have to submerge your individuality to the extent that you blend in with the image people have of someone with [social savoir-faire].

    Tony, I’m an Aspie myself. And throughout K-12, college, graduate school and years beyond, I lived my life according to the first sentence of your comment. I paid a heavy but not atypical price. I had very few friends, and they were people who lived a distance from me. I had trouble getting and keeping any job at all, let alone one that would use my education. In fact, even in school, I got lower grades and otherwise learned less than I would if I had gotten along better with fellow students and teachers.

    Now I’ve devoted my career to helping fellow Aspies impove their relationships with others…and vice versa.

    You said that “we all have to learn to get along together whilst keeping our individuality.” That’s exactly like the classic tension of freedom vs. order in society. It’s a set of difficult trade-offs, and it’s always a two-way street.

    Yes, we live and let live – which also means you need to watch what you say about (what you consider to be) problems on other people’s part. We also have respect for others’ feelings, which means you need to adjust your behavior sometimes to what other people find comfortable.

    What do you think?

    Jeff Deutsch

  5. Jeffrey Deutsch
    Jeffrey Deutsch says:

    Hello Penelope,

    I’m sorry to have missed this post before, because as a fellow Aspie who now helps other Aspies get along well in the workplace, I find it quite interesting.

    I’ve blogged about your post here – please let me know what you think!

    Cheers,

    Jeff Deutsch

  6. Nan
    Nan says:

    Hello Penelope.

    I’m a freelance writer who is disabled by MS and have been since about 2000. Since the dx I’ve been making my professional home on-line. I found your site via a link from Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish. I’m glad I did! I’m just starting out as a blogger, only a weensy blog-in-the-works at the moment that will be dedicated to helping disabled folks find what’s needed — and wanted — on line.

    Thanks for this blog. You’ve given me much to consider about blogging, the blogger’s voice, and how disabled people live in the working world.

    Best regards,

    Nancy Virginia Varian

  7. Cec
    Cec says:

    I found your blog from the link on http://www.autisable.com/737003941/the-overall-annoyance-quotient/?empty=true and like the person who linked, I don’t really agree with some of what you say – that person, like myself has suffered loneliness through a lack of friends, just because you don’t need people doesn’t mean you should generalise that others with AS don’t.

    Being good at what you do is another point of disagreement. I am super-smart and always end up being promoted to a top position by someone who doesn’t interact with me (like a CEO) but appreciates my work. This annoys people as much as my personality does, perhaps even more.

    I don’t have any problem spending time with people, I have a problem of understanding when its time to not talk, time to leave. Its ok in a social setting because I can see when others are leaving, but by myself its obvious that I spend longer with people than they wish.

    Not all of us are the same and perhaps its an AS fault to be empirical about personal evidence.

  8. David
    David says:

    Maybe your symptoms and behavior are a
    reflection to a neurotic society with
    no brainer fixations. Small detail bogs
    down the bi process. Depending on the
    social and work environment I can be
    totally integrated or tuned out. You are
    up front and honest. Our North American
    society isn’t. There seems to need to be
    a correctness and appropriate protocol
    to every action in our behavior.

  9. David
    David says:

    I was in Argenntina. Everyone was a bit ‘off’
    yet everything got done. In the US and
    Canada any deviation from the ‘normal’
    personality is considered an illness.
    than NYC LA LV SF New Orleans Austin
    Montreal Puerto Rico have an acceptance
    of ‘unusual’ people. Any wonder why these
    places are so popular?

  10. kasdjsdf
    kasdjsdf says:

    You forgot the most important rule, stay the hell out of my way and dont talk to me.

    You are not “normal” i have zero interest in learning about you, or tolerating your behavior in a professional environment so leave us alone.

  11. Dave
    Dave says:

    We live in very neurotic society. There
    is an assumed correctness about every
    detail. Unless you have a lot of money
    your social life is limited. I noticed the
    mental health of a lot of Brazilians is
    far better than in North America when I
    visited. I discovered why I seem so introverted.
    North Americans are simply judgemental and
    no fun to be around. Too up tight. The same
    holds through for Canada except Quebec were
    you can be yourself

  12. James
    James says:

    Were you diagnosed with Asperger syndrome? What kind of intense, systematic thinking interests did you have as a child before the age of 10? (As typical for people with Asperger syndrome.)

  13. Anne
    Anne says:

    Hi Penelope

    Thank you for your blog. I feel that I could really relate to what you are saying. Although I have an average level of intelligence, I have always had difficulty with being liked and for a long time could not understand what I was doing wrong. As a result of my lack of good social skills, I have often failed in the workplace even when I did a better job than my collegues. I have often been criticed over my ‘manner’ and rarely seem to generate support in a wark environment. Hence, I have had to painstakingly develop better social skills… and I’m still learning. I know that I manage a lot better than I did 20 years ago but sometimes, it feels as if I will never be successful, no matter how hard I try to get along with others at work. I don’t have Asperger’s but believe that I’m right up the scale on the spectrum.

    So if you can recommend any good books or have any more tips on how to survive in a workplace environment I’m all ears.

  14. Alex Spaulding
    Alex Spaulding says:

    I came across this post due to a situation at work and I don’t know how to deal with it. I don’t have AS.

    I started a new job about a month ago, and another new hire started soon after me. We both have the same positions, salespeons. I suspect he has something like AS as he seems oblivious as to when he is annoying me with his constant need to comment on something everytime he walks by me, and he just stands there and keeps talking until I either reply or I walk away. Lately, I just walk away. It’s been getting very annoying.

    Any project I am working on, he comes up, tells me what I am doing, and how/why I should be doing it. Uh, thanks?

    Them there’s the personal questions that he asks and when I don’t answer, or answer enough to his satisfaction, he keeps pushing.
    For example, “When are you getting married?”
    I reply, “Never.”
    “Never? Why not? Don’t you have a boyfriend? Don’t you want to start a family?”
    I tell him it’s private, personal, whatever. Nope. Push, push, push.

    Today, he really cheesed me off when I dealing with a difficult customer, and he randomly jumped on a computer I was running back and forth on to look up stuff for the customer’s endless questions, to websurf. Then, he hovered over me silently while I was still dealing with the customer. I told him to stop it, but he just stood there and started asking me a stream of “oh, are you selling XYZ?” questions and making inane comments, and I snapped and told him to go away, and he in turned yelled “DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ME?” so I replied “Yes, I do” and he said “WELL TELL ME THEN!” …all in front of Mr. Difficult Customer. Joy. Was it his intention to make me look like a heel, and in front of a customer, to boot? Could he not see I was busy, stressed, and did not have time to listen to him yap?

    Any suggestions on how to make life easier at work? There’s no offices or desks to buffer zone myself from him. I’m feeling the burden to be the extra-accomodating one, to him and to the job, when he seems to not pull his own weight and is very irritating to deal with. I have no idea what our supervisor thinks of him, nor am I a tattler. I don’t want to get him fired, but he is disrupting my job performance.

  15. Jon
    Jon says:

    My ten year old son was diagnosised Aspergian a few years ago, a real life changer for our family, and not just for him. Because they do not diagnose ASD in NZ (extremely rare)for adults, I got an “unofficial” confirmation I am on the spectrum as well. It’s taken me a few years to completely get to the “acceptance” of this discovery and embrace it. I’m 55,and have a varied and extensive employment background. It’s been a enlightening and painful journey back to understand all of the personal/professional problems and pain I have endured, but it has been worth it. The number one thing this revelation has gifted me is context; I can now live my life with one.

    Your suggestions and candor to the topic I appreciate,and has had a positive take away for me. All the best.

    • Laura Binns
      Laura Binns says:

      Hi,
      I am an undiagnosed Aspie in NZ. Can you give me any pointers as to where/how I would get a diagnosis?
      Thanks

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Many psychologists can diagnose Asperger’s because there are structured, diagnositic tests that most psycholgists learn to administer in school.

        Going to someone who specializes in diagnosing kids worked for me.

        Penelope

        • Laura Binns
          Laura Binns says:

          Hi, Thanks for your response. Are you in New Zealand? I was hoping for something specific to here. As the previous poster pointed out – it is very hard to get a diagnosis here. Thanks

  16. Autistics Aware
    Autistics Aware says:

    Don’t tell your boss, but do tell only one person. Actually, have an advocate speak to the person on your behalf, and explain that, “there will be times that your co-worker will need to ‘Sperge Out”. Please understand that he or she may shut down. Please lead them into a dark quite place. They will magically reappear when regrouped”. If you can establish trust with one person, your are going to have a very successful environment in place for yourself. Most VR workers are trained to give this little speech. Know to ask for it. If you attempt to do it on your own, you may choke. 

  17. Anna Louise
    Anna Louise says:

    All of my jobs have had one thing in common: I have been able to work alone most of the time. As a teen I cleaned houses. In my 20s I was a writer. Currently I own a small family business with my husband. I can pick my hours, my role and my tasks for a day. I make the phone calls from my private office (my husband dislikes the phone and is better in person) and my husband serves people in person out in the world.

    My mother and her siblings also have jobs that allow them to work alone. Some of them work through the night, when they have total silence and no coworkers. None of them have had issues with staying employed even though they are aspie and can’t cope with having coworkers in a regular office environment. There are jobs for people like us.

    I like the concept of small doses. The way I put it is I enjoy being around people for a few hours a day. But, I function best if I can be alone the rest of the day. As I have children, it means I need to be alone most of the time at work so my people time is with my family in the evenings. For some reason making phone calls is not as hard on me as having coworkers buzzing about me needing this or that.

  18. Peanut Machine
    Peanut Machine says:

    The pic is showing that u all guys had a blast time with all your friends . Even we used to do the same when we all friends meet thanks for sharing this and making me remember my old days.

  19. Jeanne Denault
    Jeanne Denault says:

    My older son spent his first 48 years with undiagnosed Asperger Syndrome. He had spent years with excellent psychiatrists, psychologists and teachers, but before the syndrome was recognized, none of these smart people were able to tell him why. Unfortunately weird thought processes frighten many people.
    Following in his grandfather’s footsteps he became an engineer where his Asperger brain has been an asset.
    I wrote a memoir, Sucking Up Yellow Jackets telling what it was like to live with a brilliant kid who was out of sync with the world around him. It was a wild ride.

  20. Eddie
    Eddie says:

    Was just thinking..
    Everyone’s going nuts about te Facebook IPO right now, right? Millions upon millions in stock. Zuckerburg could probably care less if it got out about his Aspergers (we are the masters of TMI, brutal honesty after all), but I’m sure his business partners are shaking in their boots. Can you image what would happen to the stock if it got out that the founder of Facebook has a quote – mental disorder – unquote. (I’m in the AS being a mental “difference” camp myself). I think the results would be somewhat unpleasant.

    -Eddie
    earth2eddie.blogspot.com/

  21. Rouble Narine
    Rouble Narine says:

    My partner and I stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I may
    as well check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to exploring your web page for a second time.

  22. nick
    nick says:

    Dear me, the give up mentallity is not good. Rather than shirk away from social situations, embrace them. See AS as a challenge that can be beaten. Intelligence is key in this. I am an aspie but i have worked hard on improving myself because the truth is, we live in a neurotypical world and if i am going to survive in it i need to learn the rules and i did. In terms of social interactions i took the bull by the horns and told myself i wouldnt let it beat me. Most of my friends have no idea i have AS as i feel they do not need to know and i like to be taken at face value, the resulkt is getting invited to social events, people wanting to be friends and intimate relationships has been evidence to myself that i am doing a decent job. I guess determination is key here and it has resulted in me beginning a great career and a wide group of friends and yes, even the obscure rules of dating can be taught. I was like a bull ina china shop when i was younger but everytime i made a mistake i would try and learn from it. If you strive to do better around other people and never give up, you will meet and learn wonderful things about the diversity complexity of other people. Learn to laugh at yourself (without letting people take advantage) and don’t over contemplate. Also instead of having a refined special interest only, spread it out and acquire many other interests. The world IS interesting. If you have that gift of intelligence and try and apply positive thinking. AS the saying goes.. “You can do anything you put your mind to”

    Hope this helps.

    Nick

  23. Matti
    Matti says:

    The thing I find frustrating with my Asperger’s friends is that it’s all about them. And yes, maybe they’re wired that way but that doesn’t mean they can’t play around with the wiring and get help from others. I get tired of the conversation always being about their limited subject. I have a million things I would like to talk about but they say all million of them are boring. Well, I get tired of talking over and over and over about the same thing every time, but I don’t say it because I’m guessing it wouldn’t change anything and might be hurtful. I’m severely bipolar by the way (worst mania episodes, worst depression, mixed cycles and rapidly cycling, hallucinations, strong family history, several attempted suicides). With my kind of bipolar, it’s estimated that as many as 50% commit suicide. STILL before I got the correct combination of medicines that worked, (and that took decades) it was very very hard to hold myself back from screaming and running down the halls with knifes etc. etc., I was still able to control myself and think about other people’s feelings in all but complete psychosis. Asperger’s people should really be taught right off to incorporate what other people want to talk about and want to do and to force themselves if necessary to like it. People without Asperger’s have a need to have others LIKE their conversation and what they are doing together. If not, you might as well be talking with your computer screen.

    • Anne
      Anne says:

      Hi Matti, I’m wondering what the key point of your complaint really is here. On the surface of it you seem to be saying that people with Aspergers should broaden their topics of conversation but you also talk a lot about your own bipolar. This then raises a number of questions for me about where you are coming from and what is underlying your complaint about People with Aspergers. For example, if you find the conversations with Aspies so frustrating, why are you choosing them to be your friends? Why did you feel it so necessary to explain your own condition in such detail? It leaves me wondering whether a big part of your frustration is about some unresolved issues regarding what others might expect of you. Why do you feel that you can’t tell your Aspie friends that you would like to change the topic? As an Aspie myself I’m quite open to others being upfront and honest with me about how they feel when I spend time with them because it does help me to become more aware. It’s not the complaint that’s the problem here, but how it is raised. If it comes across as a criticism (as I feel your comments are doing), then it is likely to offend people. But a complaint that is expressed in an honest and respectful manner will usually be welcomed. The one thing I’d suggest that you bear in mind though is that for an Aspie a lot of what a neurotypical chooses to talk about is quite boring – not so much the topic per se but how it’s put across. As an Aspie I have learned to accept what, for me, are tedious conversations in many social settings especially at work but I also find it emotionally very tiring. Therefore when I’m with my friends it’s really nice to be able to have more meaningful conversations on topics of particular interest without the need to be constantly changing the topic. That’s who I am and my personal friends understand and accept that. When I’m in other social settings I make a huge effort to stay mindful of how others converse and to join in but it’s not easy and emotionally quite draining.

  24. ash
    ash says:

    Hi i am an 18 year old guy studying engineering. I face the very same problems as u do, in college…this post was really helpful. i din’t even know i had asperger’s untill last month. i just find it emotionally draining to be normal. i dont even know whether i do really have aspergers..as i havent been to any psychologist. i just freaking dont know how relationships work. it may sound weird but i really do not understand what to say in a conversation sometimes. recently i broke up with my girlfriend and the reason was indirectly aspergers. she thinks that i am too selfish, i tried to tell her but she dint want to listen to anything. i feel very lonely and dont have anyone to talk to. even in college m the guy who does weird stuff. i just dont know what to do.please help me….i need you to coach me…reply on my email address if u can, and want to….i need someone to talk to :(

  25. Greg
    Greg says:

    Only a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with Aspergers. I am 44 years old and have been employed most of my life in a technical role. As I bring new ideas and different ways of looking at things to my workplace, I have had no problem maintaining employment. The major obstacle I have experienced is gaining promotions/new jobs. This has been a frustrating part of my career, as I have always thought of myself as a valuable resource to any employer. I feel that we are inclined to undersell ourselves to prospective employers, whereas NT’s will embellish their accomplishments, and appear as better candidates. I feel being honest and open with your employer is far better than not letting them know what is going on inside our heads. However having said that, you need to be armed with the information to help them understand what Aspergers means, and also giving them suggestions on how best to utilise the strengths you possess. I also find that alone time is essential when I get home to clear my head.

  26. Laura
    Laura says:

    wow no. Don’t act like you’re speaking for all people with Asperger’s, because you aren’t. Ugh.

  27. Guest_T
    Guest_T says:

    Great list, just what I was looking for. I’d like to offer a 6th… “Try not to criticize or give advice or ‘help’ “. There are probably loads of subtle cues that I don’t understand about when it’s OK to criticize, but here’s my basic summary of the key points: (a) If you criticize someone else’s work when it isn’t your responsibility to do so, you may come across as ‘insightful and competent’ (which was probably your aim) but you may also come across as ‘nasty and backstabbing’ and if that person has a good reputation, people may tend to take his/her side and dismiss your comments as inaccurate and poorly judged. More importantly, they may also assume you’ll have poor judgement about themselves and that you’ll share it with others… which in effect characterizes you as a toxic personality. (b) People frequently don’t want to be helped or to receive feedback. It’s often better and safer to model the ‘correct’ behavior yourself, in the hope that they will notice the benefits and ask for help. If they don’t, be very careful about making suggestions. I sometimes even manage to upset people by telling them about keyboard shortcuts… they seem to react by thinking ‘who does he think he is, telling me how to use a PC’. The same people will express awe when they see me doing things quickly on a PC… but I’ve learned not to offer advice unless it is requested, even at times when it’s most badly needed. I guess that it’s particularly uncomfortable for neurotypicals to accept help from someone who is a bit special as they may be frightened of becoming ‘special’ themselves.

    As a bit more background to (a), I’ve noticed that people often choose their trusted colleagues (or authors or politicians or whatever) and elevate them to ‘hero’ status. Then, anyone who criticizes one of their heroes is almost certain to lose credibility and respect.

    • Guest_T
      Guest_T says:

      I’ d just like to add a bit to my earlier post.

      The title of this blog post mentions “5 ways” but the URL mentions “6-ways” … so perhaps there’s a vacant space waiting for a 6th?!

      I’ve also noticed in another of Penelope’s posts “Countless studies show people would rather have pleasant and personable co-workers than a co-worker who is always right.” … which is another way of looking at the the “don’t criticize” tip … saying something that is well-intentioned and correct can be taken as unwelcome criticism.

      Finally, in Penelope’s #5 above, she refers to “rules like this for the office” … can someone please point me towards a set of these rules? I’m starting a new office job very soon and I hope to learn some rules beforehand. I’m recently self-diagnosed as a 40-year old PPD-NOS, and I’m finding online tips for ASD really helpful.

  28. Kerri
    Kerri says:

    Hello. My best friend has asperger’s syndrome and she soon won’t b my best friend due to her lack of empathy, strict routine and rigid behavior. She can’t relate to anything I tell her so my advice to you, if you know someone with Asperger’s, please, please seek help for the both of you or your marriage or friendship will die.

  29. Monique Lopez
    Monique Lopez says:

    Hello Penelope,
    Thank you for this post. It provides a lot of important and useful information that I will definitely use. Are there any other web resources that you can direct me to that also provide advice for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome in the workplace? Much of what I am finding online is about employers “dealing” with someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.
    Thank you!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The best thing to read, I have found, is advice about social skills. The biggest problem people with Asperger’s have is learning social skill rules that are intuitive to everyone else. When it comes to working with other people, most of my energy is spent trying to follow the rules I have learned. I think people with Aspergers need to learn how to follow the rules in order to hold down a job. That part is really fundamental to adult success.

      Penelope

  30. Jane
    Jane says:

    I just want to address this situation on Asperger’s and the conflict that it causes. We all have weaknesses, and weaknesses can draw you close to God and be great character builders. But Aspergers disorder can cause bondage for most people who struggle with it or for people who are involved with those who have it. If you are a person with Aspergers (mind you Aspergers is not who you are) and you are brilliant and can work for a company because you are not replacable, it may work. But in this day and age, people can opt to hire those who are intelligent (like many people with Aspergers) and who do not have social deficits (unlike those with Aspergers). So where does this leave people with Aspergers who are replacable in the workforce-which constitutes most Asperger people. Social skills have always been important to people, and lack of social skills are no longer being overlooked in favor of great intelligence. Companies can have people with both intelligence and decent to excellent social skills.
    To add to this, everyone needs to make a living and more and more people with Aspergers marry and have families. Individuals with Aspergers need to “rise to the occasion” in the workforce and with others no matter how painful it feels to them. From a Christian perspective, the Lord had problems while He was here on the earth, but He died for us and rose again, no matter how painful. I don’t believe that it is the Lord’s will that people grapple with Asperger’s Syndrome. Yes, He made people with all kinds of personalities (whether introverted or extroverted), but He also created us to be relational-first with Him and then with others…this is not to say that life is a big popularity contest. We shouldn’t seek popularity, but to do what is right in God’s eyes. Because we often fail to do what is right, we have a free gift of salvation, and all we have to do is receive it, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives. I don’t mean to get off on a tangent, but we were created for relationships-first with the Lord and then with others. I think when you realize that you have extreme social deficits, you want to withdraw. That is not to say that everyone feels comfortable being around people all the time. This is obviously a personality difference. But I think we should enjoy time with others, and time alone, and most importantly time with God. When someone has difficulty being empathetic and cannot relate well to others, and then is socially isolated because of this, it becomes a bondage. From my personal experience with Aspergers, I have found that it can be extremely unfulfilling and isolating. My answer to this is to go to the Lord and pray to Him with all of your heart, to get rid of the bondage that you are in. Pray that He will give you the ability to develop a relationship with Him, and He will grant this request. Everything will flow from there. You might still have many flaws, but He can and will give you more of an ability to be relational and experience life. and most importantly accept His free gift of salvation. The fact that many people with Aspergers do not feel that need to know the Lord is a major problem in and of itself. I will pray for all of you. Management is not the answer…healing is. Also, don’t resign yourself to the fact that you can’t get beyond this..you can. Just go to the right source..who is the Lord.

  31. Emily
    Emily says:

    What if your company picnic is mandatory, including staying the entire length of time? I was going to try bringing my iPad. I don’t really give a crap if it goes on my review that I dared to read books at the company picnic.

  32. ann
    ann says:

    The results might be a lot worse than just a bad review. Your best bet would be to just try and participate or at least keep an interested smile on your face. I don’t know if you have individual transport to the picnic but if you do you could always get someone to phone you and say that there is a problem with some family member, or someone in your house has lost their keys and can’t get back in and excuse yourself early and go back home!

    If you haven’t got individual transport, then gee, I feel your pain. I don’t know what I’d do, but it would be taking an ipad and essentially telling everyone ‘fuck you, you are the most boring people alive and I don’t want anything to do with you’. (Even if it’s true!)

  33. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    I was looking for information on how to deal with AS boss. I suspect that’s what my boss has and after day-from-hell yesterday, quitting my job or learning how to deal with him are the only options.
    Examples of his behavior:
    – employee on maternity leave brings the cutest newborn girl to show to co–coworkers, Boss comments on the stroller wheels;
    – Boss looks at wedding pictures – comments on weather in the picture;
    – picks nose for what seems forever when stressed;
    – arranges his bushy eyebrows when stressed;
    – keeps Tucks hemorrhoid pads on his desk;
    – obsessions: maps, weather, planes, trains;
    – sent Holiday Festivities email to entire department describing food celebration of my ethnic group. He is not from the same ethnic group but seemed to indicate that he knew what we are all about. To prove his point, he included 2 Youtube videos where representatives of my ethnic group were singing, consuming certain foods, and farting.
    – procrastinates, leaves everything for last minute – complains / whines that he is tired;
    – this is after I have drafted all his minutes, memos and letters – all he has to do is to review and revise if needed;
    – meets with me every day – talks about non-work topics in the most boring monotone way;
    – when I tell him that drafts are done and ask to review, he says, “I can do that” and then it’s not done for days, sometimes weeks;
    – he is a star at his job – an expert in his area and overall results are good, and one of them was great on a national scale;
    – this genious of memory lately seems to be forgetting a lot;
    – the day-from-hell yesterday was full of him snapping at me when I was trying to be helpful and to ease his workload. As every Friday, he went to noon Mass and came back in the same mood. At the end of the day, he said, “Sorry, I was a bit uncommunicative today.” All I wanted to say was, “You were an ass”.

    Just wondering if my reminders are a bit much because when I ask if he had finished something, the nose picking starts.

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