Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Asperger's in the Office

Here we are. See my cute husband? It's been an interesting road with him and Asperger's. Many days I'm grateful to it for allowing me to have a better understanding of him and my son. Many days also I am frustrated and annoyed by it.

I don't use it as an excuse and I don't think he does either, but there does come with it many challenges. One in particular we have come across recently is with him and his job.

He has a good job. He does computer stuff. He is a GIS analyst/web developer for an engineer firm. He's pretty smart. He does a good job. He is lucky and unlucky at the same time. His job requires a lot of deadlines which can be stressful, but for an Aspie who can get distracted or want to do something too perfect, it allows him to manage his time by force almost and get things accomplished on task.

We are grateful for his job and that he has been able to get out there and have a working relationship with others despite his social awkwardness at times.

Recently we have found it has it's setbacks.

These past few months he has had a chance to where he could possibly move into his own office at his job. Nothing big and fancy, but it would be a step up and I think he deserves it. Now, he hasn't been with the company too long, but they did make him a team leader and some of the other team leaders have their own office. I think it would be great for him to have his own office to help fend off all those distractions that he gets all day. He could shut the door and get more work done. It would be great!

So we all kept our hopes up and waited for the big bosses to make the decision. His direct boss thought he should have it, but it had to go through the main boss. In the end this is what happened:

His direct boss called him into his office and told him the bad news. He would not be getting an office yet because he just didn't seem like management yet. He didn't portray himself well enough and look like a leader. He didn't look people in the eye enough. He didn't talk enough in meetings or sound sure enough of himself. He wasn't outgoing enough or hadn't spoken up enough to the other leaders so that he could look like he was in a leadership position. He was doing a good job, and he was great and people liked him, but because of all these reasons explained, an office was yet for him.

When he told me all this it seemed like someone saying, "Nope, you don't get an office because basically you have Asperger's!"

I mean, really, everything that was being described about him was that which directly related to him having Asperger's! Now, of course he has never been officially diagnosed, although a group of doctors gave him an unofficial diagnosis themselves off the record, and he has never brought the subject up at work as to not be treated weirdly. But now, being that it has directly affected him at work, we wonder should he bring it up? And if so, should he really go out there and get an official diagnosis?

I don't know if I'm all for the go out and get a doctor to put in writing that he has Asperger's. What would the point be? He doesn't need to be medicated and he doesn't need counseling or what not. We don't have the time and money to be going out to doctors for something we already know is probably the truth.

And, what good would telling his work? I know he is happy to know he is an Aspie at times because it helps explain things in his own life and helps him realize there isn't something wrong with him but just he thinks and processes things differently.

So, for now, we laugh and he goes to work and "acts like he is important". Now don't get me wrong. He is important, and he is a leader, and he is smart, but he must physically and mentally force himself to act more outgoing. It doesn't come natural to him, and he doesn't feel it is something he even understands sometime, but he goes and tries his hardest. Look at those people a little more in the eye. Speak up more. Process more quickly and talk faster even though mentally I know that is frustrating because he hates to open his mouth until he has everything formulated perfectly in his head how he will speak it. Use more confidence in your voice. Look like a leader!

We will see what happens, but for now, I guess life isn't always fair for an Aspie, or at least maybe he can learn to be more like the norm of the world even though it might not be natural. Around our house we tell each other, "just fake it!"


Hartley said...

I thought I would leave my two cents here:

My hubby has tons of aspie traits, although he made up for his social deficiencies as a teenager by making debate his obsession. I know, kind of crazy, but he worked tirelessly to learn the material and then was forced to present it in order to "win". He became nationally ranked his first season.

So, although my hubby doesn't have the same issues as yours in the exact same way, he is very similar.

My husband has a GREAT job that came from his background as a developer. I would encourage your husband to use his Aspie traits to his advantage in order to get more noticed by his bosses and discourage you from using it as a disability to leverage an office (vs. more pay or better benefits).

I would tell him that his understanding of technology and computers could be used to present information and he could be seen as an "expert" which is synonmous with "leader". I would encourage him to go out of his comfort zone and volunteer to work on more visible projects (where the bosses can see him in his comfort zone--on a conference call deployment--no eye contact necessary--or in written form--requirements doc?) to get their attention.

I guess the big question here is does he even really want to be in management? If so, project or people? People managment is a much different beast. LOL

If he would like some Aspie (almost) to Aspie professional coaching via phone or email, my hubby would be happy to help him--no eye contact required! (So you know, my hubby is an executive at a publically traded company here in Seattle). You can find my direct email on my blogger profile. : )

Anyway, thank you for sharing your family's life so candidly. You are helping all of us feel more connected!

MKBookWorks said...

I am so glad I found your blog. I am wife to an aspie.. and it is not always easy.. and although I try really hard.. it is difficult and occasionally lonely. I can appreciate that some of the things that make him who he is are both the things I appreciate (steadfastness, supportive and adoring) while the others (easily distracted, no moving from ritual, forgetful, lacking common sense, etc.) are those that are somewhat hard to take - day in day out. It looks like you have achieved a balance.. and that is a real blessing. We have other Aspie's in our life.. but not among our own children (2 adopted from China, one more on the way) but I do love a couple of kids with Asp. each is so unique..

Thanks again for sharing your life.. :-)

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