back to article Working with Asperger's in tech: We're in this together

Some time has passed since my first article on the subject of being an Aspie in the work world. So, I thought it may be time to cover a subject closer to my heart, namely being an Aspie in social settings. Work, after all, isn’t just about what you do – it’s how you interact with people as well. First, let's start with my wife …

  1. shifty_powers

    Interesting article.

    As a mental health nurse myself I have worked with many people whom are on the spectrum. (I have also come to ascribe to the view that the 'spectrum' is in fact not distinct from NT experience; that everyone is on the same spectrum and that for certain characteristics it is simply how far along the spectrum you are. Everyone has 'traits' to some degree or another and I certainly include myself in that).

    Something you did not mention in this article, (you may have before, did read the previous article but can't remember), is honesty. Nearly all of the people I have worked with have been almost brutally honest. I always enjoyed this about working with them and see it as a positive overall. However I know that it often caused them some interesting situations when interacting with NT people!

    1. ZSn

      Having worked abroad for years I also value brutal honestly. When you are working in a multinational environment one man's subtle response is another man's half million euro cockup. I've been called an idiot to my face in an important meeting an it wasn't an insult. The British were shocked and the Dutch took it in their stride. I was being an idiot so I just agreed. I find project managing the Dutch and Scandiwegians refreshing - though you learn to develop a thick skin.

      1. Slx

        You've got to understand culture though.

        I've encountered a situation where someone called a very key member of staff "an idiot" or something similar because they came from an "in your face" culture.

        The person handed in minimal notice and went on sick leave for the majority of it and provided bare minimal handover notes, nearly killing an entire project. Then actually changed their mobile number when people called them afterwards looking for info.

        Arrogantly not adapting to a particular culture or understanding that culture is not universally understood is a recipe for serious conflict.

      2. DanceMan

        RE: the Dutch and Scandiwegians refreshing - though you learn to develop a thick skin.

        Something for those carping about Linus to take heed of.

      3. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Yes, I miss working in Netherlands for that reason

        1. Danny 14

          I employed a techie with aspergers. He was fully aware of what he was strong and deficient in. The main thing he had an issue with was re-tasking, he simply couldn't stop a task till it was complete. Obviously don't give him research if it meant the job couldn't be done but he was perfect for solving "known" problems or issues that most likely could be fixed one way or the other.

          Was a damn good worker and didn't slack off either (if he had a job to do he did it)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asperger's has been very good to me

    I can't complain.

    What's the opposite of 'Disability' ?

    1. Richard 1

      Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

      Disable --> Enable

      Disability --> Enability?!

      Perhaps it's time for a new word in the English language?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

      What's the opposite of 'Disability' ?

      You leave the "dis" bit off, so "ability".

      I have no complaints. Well, OK, apart from a non-social life, but the kind of work I can do thanks to a fairly acute ability to sense patterns makes for quite interesting projects.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

      It can be. I know both a highly paid lawyer and a banker who have done very well out of it.

      But excuse me for writing this - I think that while the diagnosis of autism is understandable (the medical need to classify and provide resources) it is not really a "spectrum". It's a lot of different personality traits which may or may not occur together (high functioning) along with other personality traits which are harmful; and I understand it may stem from a variety of not-that-related mutations, and gene expression which may be affected both by parental and prenatal conditions.

      At the moment it is like classifying everything infectious as being "on an infection spectrum" and not regarding the common cold as being essentially different from sepsis, just a less severe version.

      In an ideal world being classified as "Aspergers" should be irrelevant; it's more a case of "X has these behavioural traits and this is how we minimise misunderstanding and friction." Because, to be brutally honest, it is much, much harder to have to work with a "neurotypical" with an average IQ than with someone with borderline OCD and an IQ of +3 sigma, if you want to get anything done properly. In today's world, being an average neurotypical is actually a mild disability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

        In today's world, being an average neurotypical is actually a mild disability.

        It is if the person involved is subjected to the usual office politics. I found myself unable to deal with that because, quite frankly, I'm too honest and it doesn't make me feel good to have to play a game of which I can barely understand the rules in order to get promotion. Ability only makes you valuable in the role you're already in...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

          "a game of which I can barely understand the rules in order to get promotion"

          A person of average IQ is unlikely to get promotion. I suspect that just posting to the Reg puts you in something like the top 10% of the IQ range; illiterate posts are very uncommon here.

          In my experience the cause of office politics is people who are not quite intelligent enough for the job they are doing or aspire to. Either they become the office politicians, or others have to work to get them onside. I hope that in my time I've fallen into the latter category, but that may just be my own Dunning-Kruger effect.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

            I suspect that just posting to the Reg puts you in something like the top 10% of the IQ range; illiterate posts are very uncommon here.

            According to Mensa I'm in the top 2%, but I pay for that with an EQ that is probably a negative number although age seems to help :). I tend to make few mistakes in spelling because I read by pattern recognition, misspelled words simply feel "wrong" (sorry, hard to describe). That doesn't work for every language I speak, but I reckon me English eez akzeptable. Sorry, slipped there for a moment...

            1. Sgt_Oddball

              Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

              I second that motion on misspelt words feeling 'wrong' it's wonderful when you code for a living........

              On that note though it was why I got taught to touch type when I was 8 in school. They felt the pattern recognition might be better since its a different sort of muscle memory. Personally I just think it makes it easier to correct.

              Oh and regarding iq I'm mildly above average save for mechanical /spacial which is off the scale. Never done much with it since I hate studying and tend to learn as I go along.

          2. Disko
            Thumb Up

            Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

            You just nailed it there...

            .... cause of office politics is people who are not quite intelligent enough for the job they are doing or aspire to. Either they become the office politicians, or others have to work to get them onside...

    4. g e

      Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

      "Superpower", natch ;oD

    5. Al fazed

      Re: Asperger's has been very good to me


    6. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

      As an old wisecrack goes - "What do you mean by "suffering from x"? I'm not suffering, I'm enjoying it!"

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

      So what you're suggesting is being NT is a disability?

      Given the rates of detection of Asperger's syndrome has been on the rise for years, I guess some day it'll be the "normal" condition: we aspies will take over the world and start treating people for what we now call "neurotypicalism".

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Asperger's has been very good to me

        >So what you're suggesting is being NT is a disability?

        In my line of work, being the one in the office without a maths PhD means you are handicapped - yes !

    8. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Richard 1

    An excellent article that really helps NTs to understand and see the world from an Aspies perspective. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. PDC


      Really? It barely covers anything to do with being on the spectrum.

  4. tiggity Silver badge

    To avoid the wife home early causing you hassle.

    Wife works varying hours (time she can leave work heavily depends what issues & their urgency level arise in that particular work day), and will text me with earliest possible ETA once she knows what train she is catching (based on "perfect travel" i.e. no train delays & no congestion delays on road part of journey - so "perfection" usually only occurs rarely)

    I know to treat the ETA as having very wide margin of error due to the dismal road & rail networks involved, but does give earliest possible time home to work on & if there are massive delays will usually get update from wife.

    That generally avoids surprises (unless mobile network down / wife forgot phone / phone out of charge)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome about 30 years ago. A few points:

    1) I'm not an "Aspie" any more than I'm a "Myopie". I have no shared identity with people just because they happen to have the same minor disabilities* as I do.

    2) Normal* people are not responsible for dancing around my abnormalities* just as I'm not responsible for pandering to people who are clinically normal* but hopelessly thick.

    3) An Asperger's diagnosis does not mean someone is magically inoculated against stupidity. Inability to learn that a stock phrase like: "When you've got 5 minutes.." has a broader meaning is evidence of poor language skills or stupidity, not Asperger's per se. If one cannot learn that then how can one learn that DBTransaction.Commit may (or may not) imply OSFile.Write, depending on context and external flags?

    4) Uncontrollable fear of enclosed spaces is claustrophobia. I don't like my personal space invaded, but I'm not going to belittle genuine phobias by pretending it is uncontrollable. Normal* people ride the Northern Line in the morning and so do I. If I dislike it more than they do then it is my damn problem, not theirs.

    5) Lists and routines are like single thread procedural programming. Nice and simple but not how the world actually works. If I can ignore asynchronous callbacks, thread pre-emption and (horrors!) polymorphic variables then it makes my life simpler. Amazingly enough, that applies to normal* programmers too!!

    An abnormal* mind has advantages, once you learn to use it. Almost by definition, you can see things automatically which normal* people find harder to grasp. I don't have to make an effort to follow opcodes, I just relax and think lazily (meaning literally and procedurally).

    If you find any of this annoying then I'm afraid my Asperger's manifests as an intolerance for patronising excuses, euphemisms, special pleading and playing the victim. The fact that I can be an annoying jerk is a character flaw, not a psychiatric diagnosis ;)

    * Words selected intentionally.

    1. g e

      #2 FTW

      Never suffer fools.

      Glady or otherwise.

    2. John Tserkezis

      I've never been diagnosed with Asperger's (or Autism Spectrum Disorder as is the PC term now), but have some traits that could be considered as such, just not enough of them to affect my day to day functioning.

      "Inability to learn that a stock phrase like: "When you've got 5 minutes.." has a broader meaning is evidence of poor language skills or stupidity, not Asperger's per se."

      I get that. What I don't get (and never have) is whenever someone says "I have a 5 minute job for you to do", almost invariably means it's going to take four hours out of my time that's been allocated to something a little less important, like trying to recover from a pabx fault that resulted in in a quarter of the several hundred phones being borked.

      For some reason, that bugs me more than society says it should.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "What I don't get (and never have) is whenever someone says "I have a 5 minute job for you to do", almost invariably means it's going to take four hours out of my time"

        That's easy. It's the same reason "From nothing" or "Not to what" means "You are welcome" if the speaker is Spanish or Russian. In your case the speaker is fluent in PHBish or Idiotese. Context is everything. Misleading statements and outright gibberish may become comprehensible once you factor in the context of the speaker being a complete and utter idiot.

        The specifics in this case being that the idiot actually has no idea how long the job will take so he is pulling a random number out of his ass based on magical thinking and blind parroting of cliched time intervals. "About 10 days" is another common choice for jobs self evidently bigger, even to idiots.

        This is not really the speaker's fault. Being an idiot is a far greater mental disability than being on the autism spectrum. However, we are all prone to some degree of wishful thinking and it can be hard for the rest of us to grasp the neutronium levels of density that professional buzzword bingo callers and "Consultants" (but I repeat myself) are capable of.

        Personally I find it helpful to remember that MBA stands for "Middle Bronze Age" or "Maldives Basketball Association" and calibrate my expectations of technical competence accordingly.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Sorry AC. I think you misunderstand what "It'll just take five minutes" really means.

          The "just five minutes" is not a measure of quantity, in the speaker's mind, but is a measure of quality.

          It's actually "five minutes worth" of time.

          Underlying it is an unconscious belief that four hours of your time is only worth five minutes of theirs

          1. Danny 14

            we have a "no politics" rule in our office. Politics with aspergers is not a good combination we have found.

  6. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Different NOT broken

    People with Asperger's (or even just Introverts) are not wrong or broken because we don't like socialising, etc.. We're just different. I don't want someone to try and "fix" me by making me more socialble. I'm happy as I am.

    You could argue that extroverts are broken and need reigning in to be more like introverts.

    The world needs both extroverts and introverts (and everyone in between) We all just need to appreciate the others needs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Different NOT broken

      "You could argue that extroverts are broken and need reigning in to be more like introverts."

      Technically extraverts are people who take their social cues from those around them, while introverts are people who are self-directed. Extraverts need people around them to know what to think; introverts only need enough people around them to form the basis for some interesting disagreements. Extraversion often gets confused with hypomania but is quite different. Some hypomaniacs make excellent salesmen but you don't want them running QA. Some introverts, on the other hand, can end up running large projects or enterprises and will stick to their guns against the herd instinct, which means they may either be very successful or huge failures.

      (Please do not take too literally).

    2. VinceH

      Re: Different NOT broken

      "People with Asperger's (or even just Introverts) are not wrong or broken because we don't like socialising, etc.. We're just different. I don't want someone to try and "fix" me by making me more socialble. I'm happy as I am."

      It's those last five words that I find is the problem. It's the same for me - I'm happy as I am - but when I'm sat quietly in a corner minding my own business, other people think that means I'm not happy, and feel they need to do something about it. Which has the opposite effect.

      1. g e

        Not socialising?

        Have you SEEN the people out there in 'the World'??? Jeepers, no wonder ;o)

        I think the DK effect applies equally outside the workplace, also... much evidence.

      2. Al fazed

        Re: Different NOT broken

        That's because it's them that has a problem ! Maybe they're bored or simply "do gooders", either way, I know what you mean.

    3. Lusty

      Re: Different NOT broken

      "We all just need to appreciate the others needs."

      Perhaps this is the core of the issue. It's not people "on the spectrum" that have an issue, they are just normal people with differing attributes. We should instead try to diagnose those who are intolerant and incapable of dealing with people of a more...ordered...nature. Those people could then be treated for being on the...ass-hat scale?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Different NOT broken - @Lusty

        I completely agree with you, and I'm "neurotypical".

        I am, however, unable to metabolise alcohol, and since I won't want to die of acetaldehyde poisoning, I don't drink it. The efforts made in the past by people telling me "one drink won't hurt you" (add slurring to taste) has persuaded me that intolerance is the problem, not behaviour outside +/- 1 sigma of the average.

    4. Slx

      Re: Different NOT broken

      My concern is I think that some people are getting to the stage that they're describing personality types as pathologies.

      I had a huge argument with a parent who was actively discouraging their daughter from building Lego models because she was "fixated on one thing". The kid is probably going to be an architect or something. She's super creative and can build complex spaces in 3D at age 6.

      Likewise I've seen a parent "concerned" that their kid is spending too much time mastering the guitar!

      If you push things too far, you'd be describing every academic, every researcher, every PhD candidate, artist, journalist with a special interest, engineer - basically anyone with a passion for a narrow range of subjects as somehow "broken".

      Without people who can pick apart a single issue, humans wouldn't have progressed and technology, art, music, science, investigation, social change etc etc wouldn't happen.

      We can't all be super-socially aware all-rounders all the time. Some people are highly specialised and interested in a narrow range of things. That's just life.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: Different NOT broken

        > What's the opposite of 'Disability' ?

        Genius~for not choosing an accomplishment that stands a cat in hell's chance of coining money.

        I can't help wondering where my ability comes from. It is the only problem I can't resolve. Yet.

        That and making money that is:

        I couldn't even manage to get Aspergers' enough to be able to write the code that will solve all my problems in forecasting or even make a video to popularise it or set a video recorder for that matter.

        > If you push things too far, you'd be describing every academic, every researcher, every PhD candidate, artist, journalist with a special interest, engineer - basically anyone with a passion for a narrow range of subjects as somehow "broken".

        I have yet to meet anyone in earth-science I consider useful. all the really good ones have me killfiled. Quite frankly they just don't want to rock a boat that is about to submerge under them. Shouting at the stupid bastards doesn't seem to help me or them.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Different NOT broken

      Half remembered quote from years ago -

      Extroverts relax with other people, introverts are drained by them.

  7. IHateWearingATie

    I thought Aspergers has been dropped as a diagnosis

    My colleague's son is on the Spectrum, and tells me that Aspergers has been dropped as a specific diagnosis because the boundaries between it and the rest of Autism are too difficult to define. His son has a diagnosis of high functioning autism, whereas in the past it may have been aspergers.

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: I thought Aspergers has been dropped as a diagnosis

      That's correct. The latest DSM manual removed a lot of specific criteria diagnosis. I'm against this as Asperger's is pretty definitive and did have an extensive list of traits which the severity of others juxtaposed against the more serious diagnosis. For me, the diagnosis of Asperger's that I had at the age of 5 helped defined me with the way I act differently with my peers, but not enough to make me alien among a group of neurotypicals. In a sense, that term shouldn't exist because "what's normal?" No one acts the same.

      I'm also against the use of the word "Aspie". It makes the condition sound like it should be a minority group. Apologies to the writer which I relate to a lot of the situations described, but it's a word I can never relate to and should be discouraged.

      However, to offer my perspective of the world; people on the spectrum can offer so much more if we all had more tolerance towards people. I live/work in London that can be extremely stressful (also becoming a Dad also recently!) However, there's a risk that the perception is that we have to treated differently. That should never be the case. I will struggle with instruction sometimes; but I've personally developed coping strategies to ask for those instructions again or clarify it. The person offering those instructions should just ask if the person understood the instruction.

      I hope we can see more people on the spectrum in workplace and living world. We can offer a perspective others might not see and totally honest/dedicated to whatever we focus on. I cannot be less than honest with my work colleagues or friend/family. Lying causes a web of confusion and stress personally.

      One last thing, I'd recommend anyone to purchase/read

      "Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently" by Steve Silberman. A great book on challenging how we percept people on a different level to ourselves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I thought Aspergers has been dropped as a diagnosis

        >That's correct. The latest DSM manual removed a lot of specific criteria diagnosis.

        It's use was dropped much earlier here in the UK by officialdom (Health/Education Services) - private practitioners, often with dubious qualifications, are another story.

        While Asperger's was presented as a discretely defined condition, its use was quite random. All autism assessments are inherently subjective, spectrum/continuum models reflect this as much as they do the nebulous population.

        Most functional adults with jobs and lives (even with a textbook childhood autism history) would struggle to get an ASD diagnosis from a centre of excellence like ARC these days.

        An AS diagnosis stopped me getting unceremoniously booted from Uni in the late 80s, but that's probably the only time I ever 'used' it - I've certainly never told an employer. I find the current fad for it quite irritating actually - STEM has always been chocked full of 'Aspies', there's really no need to recruit or pander.

    2. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: I thought Aspergers has been dropped as a diagnosis

      Yes, the DSM-V eliminated Asperger's Disorder and a number of other diagnoses and replaced them with autism spectrum disorders. This has caused concern for a lot of people as it can complicate their lives - patients had one diagnosis that now no longer exists in a clinical setting. On the plus side, the change was at least in part because of better models for cause and treatment of these disorders than were previously available.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I thought Aspergers has been dropped as a diagnosis

      There's been a lot of anger about the removal of Asperger Syndrome from the DSM. It's mainly a practical thing for the US, since a lot of medical insurers were putting in exceptions for AS. This has angered many health practitioners, since the DSM is supposed to be a general mental health manual, not something that's manipulated to get around the vagaries of the US health insurance industry.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I thought Aspergers has been dropped as a diagnosis

        >DSM is supposed to be a general mental health manual

        Although it did still list homosexuality as a mental illness into the 1970s

  8. msknight

    Just read an excellent book which is free on Amazon at the moment - "Life with an Autistic Son" - heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time.

  9. Sam Penny

    Introversion is orthogonal to Asperger's

    I have Asperger's (slash high functioning autism, pick your term) diagnosed about three years ago at the age of 33.

    I'm also an extrovert, which makes some of the common generalisations of Asperger's not so closely applicable to me. While I do have a very real need for alone time and a definite draining effect from socialising with strangers, I also have a very strong need to socialise with people close to me, without which I feel like I'm literally losing my grip on reality.

    I think the key difference between draining socialisation and regenerating socialisation is, typically for an aspie, more to do with predictability and certainty with regard to social roles and expectations. With strangers I have to be constantly on guard to ensure I don't upset somebody by missing a social cue and worry that my subtle oddness will unnerve them.

    With people who I know well, it's easier to read their body language and avoid clumsily stepping on their emotional toes. Critically, I also know that if I do get it wrong, these are people I can trust to know that I didn't mean it as an offence or at least to just ask me to clarify.

    The other kind of socialisation I can find much easier, even with strangers, is when there are clear social roles in the conversation. That way I can "play the part" of the role I'm in and interact in a way that sidesteps many of the easy pitfalls. For example, if somebody is asking for advice on a subject where I'm seen as an expert, then the interaction is less about me personally and more about my place in a predetermined almost prescripted routine - much less demand on those complex social subtleties. And when it's a scenario where my role comes with some degree of automatic respect, it can even be an ego massage! Of course, the temptation is ever present to steer conversations into that arena because it's easy, but it's not a good way into a deeper, more personal kind of relationship, so it comes with risks.

    I don't know how many others reading this are in a similar category, but perhaps my perspective might be helpful to some :-)

    Sam "SammyTheSnake" Penny

    1. Havin_it

      Re: Introversion is orthogonal to Asperger's

      Thanks for this. I often self-identify with some of what is written here about "aspies" traits (to a mild degree) but do consider myself quite "extrovert" in the ways you describe at the same time, which I always found odd up until now. I suppose what I thought about it was that I was just NT with some form of self-inspired bias. Your comment on top of some others above gives some invalidation to that self-assessment yet eases the desire for a label. Freeing up some cycles for more pressing shit :)

    2. Toby 2

      Re: Introversion is orthogonal to Asperger's

      I Identify with most of what you've said here, though I also have not been diagnosed as on the scale, some close friends have suggested things like I can be very particular at taking things at face value and not getting subtext a lot of the time along with some other few similarities.

      I have counted myself as some class of ambivert. I do really enjoy socialising, especially as part of a group if its with people I know less well, but I feel tired and my mind wanders after a certain period of this and need time to do my own thing for nearly equally as long. Socialising one-on-one with people that I don't know or outside of certain fixed perspectives, e.g. work hierarchy, team roles, etc, borders on prohibitively difficult.

      Strangely, the thing that has recently helped me most in this regard is Tinder!! I can connect to random new people, that I may never ever see or hear from again (I live in a large city) and I can practice small talk over and over again. It doesn't matter if I make a mistake, if the other person is OK they take it in their stride, if not I can move on to the next random person. When I need down-time I can ignore the message alerts, claim I'm busy atm or put off a date. On the plus side I might also end up with a decent romantic relationship ;)

  10. Camilla Smythe

    Don't know what drugs the author is on?

    All Aspies are different.

    Sorry.. Carry on.

  11. big_D Silver badge

    Numbers and binary

    Digressing from the subject a little, I was watching Tatort last night (German TV police procedure series), where there was a man with Asperger's with OCD who was counting things. At one point he was walking along and started counting out 8, 16... And I started saying 32, 64, 128 a fraction of a second before he did. It freaked the hell out of my wife! :-D

    Many of the traits you describe seem to apply to me. I've often wondered if I am not on the borderline, but I've never had it checked out.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: Numbers and binary

      How many people reading the above then had to say/think '256', to complete the byte. Hmm, how many of those then had to say/think "well, 255" because actual range of values possible in a byte.

      Ehhh, relax into what you're good at. That will bother everyone else to differing degrees. The least bothered are going to be better friends!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Numbers and binary

        You know you're aspie when .....

        You crash because the powers of 2 you are counting overflow and trigger an exception .

    2. Citizen99

      Re: Numbers and binary

      Well, I might have done that, only because I worked in a scientific/engineering field involving binary data. Oh, wait ...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Numbers and binary

        I'm sorry if this disturbs anyone else, but it set me off on..

        128, 192, 224, 240, 248, 252, 254, 255

        (Helps when working out what the dotted decimal notation should be for a /27 subnet mask for example)

        First 3 octets must be .255 (since 3*8=24 < 27) That leaves three bits left for the mask in the fourth octet. Reading the third off the above list gives .224 (which mentally subtracted from 256 gives 32)

        Therefore a /27 = (which gives 32 possible variations, and usually 30 useable addresses (in normal usage)). In a NAT situation you can just use all 32 :)

  12. Coggers

    It's annoying...

    Because much of the material on this subject is about the extremes as they present the most 'interesting' and lurid to read / write about, whereas most of us who live day-to-day feeling a little outside the norm get little understanding.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: It's annoying...

      If your interested in learning then pick up a copy of "Neuropsychology: The Neural Bases of Mental Function". It's written for medical students, so most people employed in IT deal with far more complex terms on a daily basis.

      In essence, there are 9 (currently recognised) areas in the brain (namely motor control, object recognition, spacial processing, attention span, language, memory, executive function, emotion, and artistry) that will function at different levels in any person.

      One could postulate that people with better systematising and memory skills are more likely to be drawn to engineering or technical fields as these fields reward people with a better memory and the ability to think logically.

      Meanwhile, people with above average motor control and spacial recognition are likely to go into which kind of area? Kind of alarming, when you think about the fact that the mental attributes that you are born with are likely to decide the general course of your entire life.

  13. Terry 6 Silver badge


    I may be wrong, I often am, and I stopped working in Special Education about 4 years ago, but the idea of Autistic Spectrum Disorder as I had understood it was that there was no distinct dividing line between normal and not normal, or between Asperger and Autism other than of degree.

    We're all on the spectrum.

    Some of it is also about "Theory of Mind" (Simon Baron-Cohen and Uta Frith et al 1985). The extent to which we understand that another person has a different perspective to our own.

    So when my missus says "could you do such and such in a minute", I had to learn that she means "now" and not carry on with what I'm doing. But I am not generally very literal, in fact just the opposite, too often using allegory for explanation. It's just that I had to learn where her emotional tide mark is drawn.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I just don't bother socialising (at all) any more. Happy to do my own thing at all times. :)

  15. A Ghost

    The best thing about 'being on the spectrum' is when you tell an official, whether it be at the council or at british gas or wtf, that you are 'autistic'. No point in saying 'spectrum' as well, that just confuses the thicko NTs and they miss out the 'spectrum' bit anyway, and concentrate on 'autistic'.

    Face to face is best, but the phone is good too.

    Face to face, they look at you with deep heart felt pity, genuinely feeling sorry for you and feeling better about their shitty lot in life, because at least, you know, they aren't a 'spakker' or 'retard' or 'wtf'. It is hilarious. Sometimes this is compounded by them trying to make out that they don't feel sorry for you which just digs the hole deeper for them.

    Even on the phone, you can hear the person's tone go from 'treating you normally' to 'treating me as if I am in a wheelchair'. They do that annoying little voice that is reserved by adults for hard to reach kids - 'ooohhh lit-tul bil-ly is feeling a lit-ul annoyed is he? What shall we do to help lit-tul bil-ly to be hap-py ag-gain? oooh'.

    It is fucking comical.

    My brain is wired a bit differently you fucktard, I'm not a fucking crip in a wheelchair (apologies to all the crips out there, but they don't like being patronised either, the bloody crips)!

    And to add injury to insult, these people are so 'retarded' that their iq is in the negative - thick as shit. Also, ironically, they are without any 'theory of mind'. Not only can they not understand that other people have different thought processes and belief systems, but they can not understand how another human being would be able to understand _their_ thought processes.

    So who is the autistic one. I'm there holding all the cards - them, none. I understand and know what they are thinking, but they don't see that at that moment I am reading their mind. There is a paradox in there and I'll just point that out: Autistic people are supposed to be the ones with the inability to pick up on social cues, yet NT people are ten times worse at this. They are totally unable to tell that others are picking up on their social clues in a _massive_ way. I don't use the term 'mind reading' lightly.

    My difference is a gift. I'm actually a totally normal fully functioning adult, who has always known he was a bit different, and I've worked hard to be able to socialise and get on with others. How the hell do I tell those people at the party who are jealous of me, because I am lighting up the room with my sheer charisma, making people laugh, having people hang on my every word, that I am actually a 'retard'? I'd probably get punched. I've even had people describe me as suave.

    I am also aware that that last paragraph betrays my ASD tendencies, because no NT person would say that. They would feel socially constrained against 'bragging' and being conceited. They would be smacked down by other NTs for doing so, so they don't. See, I understand, not only how my mind works, but also how NTs minds work. And I'm supposed to be the 'retard'?

    Ho ho ho. Love it.

    The fact I have no social life and no friends, is more a reflection on the majority who go to make up society, than it is at my total ineptness in social situations. I notice everyone angling for the main chance, being matey, always being invited to the party when you can do something for someone, but when you are down, as I have been, people won't piss on you if you were on fire.

    This makes me sad. I would love someone to talk to sometimes. I go weeks and months without having a conversation with another human being. I like my own company, but no man is an island, and depression sets in after being in social isolation for years on end. Thoughts of suicide never far away. Doctor says you are lazy and just won't help yourself. No hope for the future at all.

    Yet even this is character building. I'm ready to shuffle off this mortal coil any time, but I can't because I have elderly and gravely ill family members. I'm the only one in my family that hasn't had or got cancer. And the best bit, because I am a failed human being in the eyes of society, I have not one other soul on this planet to talk to. Hence my long posts at the reg.

    People sometimes ask me if I have thought about getting 'help', and I just laugh and say 'yes', I don't have a problem asking for help. Others have a problem giving it to me though. I hide the extent of my suicidal ideation for fear of being sectioned (fat chance). Not looking for sympathy, just chatting, I'm fine actually.

    I take the rough with the smooth baby and get my kicks where I can. And let me tell you, it's worth being on the spectrum just to get that giggle of seeing others react when you tell them you are autistic. NT people really have no sense of self awareness, or the awareness that others can see right through them, effectively reading their mind. They are handicapped really.

    I still make terrible mistakes sometimes, but on the whole, I get by. I wish I was clever enough to program computers, but I'm not. I can program, but I'm crap. Not all HFA people are super clever. But this 'thing' that we/you/I have, should make you dig deeper, realise limits/constraints, and find ways to work around/within them. I'm also a bit dyspraxic, but it never stopped me from learning a new instrument, or being a frighteningly good drum programmer. I got no rhythm, but I can program a computer good enough to make you think I am the best drummer in the world, with my own unique sense of timing.

    Disability? Nah, Ability, in a big way. I wouldn't change myself for all the tea in china, coz it's not me that needs changing. I see a world where if you are not immediate family, no one gives a flying shit about anyone else. I truly pity human kind, while I wonder at this universe and being a space traveler within it, drinking in every last drop, and being.... alive! The good, the bad, the fugly.

    I could go on for hours, but if you read this far, congrats! I'll shut up now. Maybe this post explains a few things.

    1. PDC

      Re the bit about needing someone to talk to, are there no other people on the spectrum in your area?

      I live in Bolton, and the PCT there provided 20 group sessions following my diagnosis. After that the group itself decided to meet up every Monday and Saturday in a coffee shop, just so that we can talk to people who are on the same level as us, and not those of lesser ability who just "don't get" us.

      Like yourself I only tend to hang on in there for other people. If I didn't have people to care for, and that includes pets, I'd probably have topped myself years ago, even before I got the diagnosis.

      I also find it bizarre now that I am more self aware, just how unaware of themselves and others NTs really are. As you say, they think we're the retarded, self centered (hello, that's what autistic means!), ones, yet it is they who are unaware of the thought processes of others, and are the self centered ones.

    2. Hairy Airey

      If it's not a disability then what next?

      The definition of disability (in the Equality Act) is "if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities" - so although most with it wouldn't consider themselves disabled they are compared to the people that they work with.

      As I have said elsewhere until there is a successful test case where someone sacked for their supposed lack of social skills caused because they have Asperger's Syndrome nothing is going to change.

      I think its removal from DSM doesn't matter as it's still a condition however it's classified.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: If it's not a disability then what next?

        So if you work in science and being "normal" means you aren't as able to do the work.

        Does that mean we can't fire people for not being brilliant - because that is the defn of disabled?

  16. Graham Marsden

    For those who are interested...

    ... The Autism Spectrum Quotient Test

    Not a diagnosis, but definitely interesting.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: For those who are interested...

      Hmmmm, scored 16. I don't believe that the spectrum is only one dimensional. I do believe that there are different layers to it that can be smeared and blurred both horizontally and vertically. There are definitely traits that people describe here that I have, others I am completely the opposite of.

    2. Haku

      Re: For those who are interested...

      Little late to this party, only saw the article link today.

      I took that test and scored 38.

      Did I pass?


      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: For those who are interested...

        I arrived after you, so you were early :)

        I have ADHD, but I took this test and it gave me a 33, so perhaps I have issues? :)

  17. Anonymous Coward


    The only Norm in reality is that character off that old comedy Cheers!

    Mine is the one with the pilsner bottle in the pocket

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's a little over two years since the original article and it inspired me to get a diagnosis. It had never previously occurred to me that adult diagnosis was an option even though I'd lived with the possibility of being on the spectrum for almost 20 years.

    Whilst getting a referral from my GP was quick and relatively painless, I'm still waiting for an actual appointment, such is the poor state of mental health provision in the UK.

    Unless and until I get a diagnosis, I'm studiously avoiding suggesting that I may have Asperger's; that wouldn't feel right.

    Thank you for the original article, and for this follow up, which I may need to discuss further with my wife.

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: Useful

      Just be careful not to make the diagnosis the be all and end all of your existence. It would just satisfy your curiosity and behaviours. Essentially, the diagnosis for me in the long-run (apart from the period of my teens where I cried myself silly to try reject/deny/not accept why I had it) made me more comfortable and confident with myself.

      Some people who have been diagnosed use it as a tool to stop making progress and accept they cannot do anything social. I always disbelieve that because of the talks and workshops I've done with a particular local charity who help parents of kids on the spectrum.

      My mum always believes everyone has a trait of autism. However big or small. The people diagnosed have multiple traits that have an impact on ones life.

      Loving to see the positive vibe in this post forum. It's opposite to what the government are not doing with mental health and special needs in general. Charities are taking too much of the brunt currently to support communities.

      1. PDC

        Re: Useful

        Getting the positive diagnosis of Asperger's has been a roller coaster for me over the past 15 month, but in the main it's been a very positive thing. I've endeavoured to use the positive the traits of my autism to combat the more negative traits, and in the main it's working. I still beat myself up when I do revert to type though, as it's so frustrating.

        Knowing that you are different, and why, gives you a good starting point to make sense of your life, and I'd recommend that if you feel you are on the spectrum, and that knowing for certain would make a difference, then go and get a diagnosis. Had it turned out that I wasn't on the spectrum I would have been devastated as it would have meant I had some other condition, and would have to start looking for answers elsewhere.

        No longer do I make up ridiculous excuses to get out of social events. I once said I'd fallen off my shed whilst re-felting it and had concussion to get out of a formal meal. Now I just explain to people that the stress of thinking about invites might mean that I don't show, and people are in the main understanding. My work colleagues have gone out of their way to involve me in socials since disclosing to them. My employer has also made changes to help me overcome difficulties I had started to have in the workplace. Your mileage may vary of course.

        The only negative comment that I remember getting was from my Wing Commander (I'm an Officer in the RAFVR(T)) who said that my access to weapons would have to be reviewed now that I had Asperger's, because that's what those in America who go on shooting sprees have. I calmly pointed out that I'd always "had" Asperger's in the 29 years I've been using weapons, including the 4 when I was appointed the shooting officer for my wing, and that being a stickler for following rules to the letter probably made me safer around weapons than others. Nothing more has been said on that subject.

        I do have down days though. The reason I sought a diagnosis is because my relationship was failing, and I still screw up on that score now, but a lot less frequently. It's really hard on my partner, but she is trying her best. I used to think she was the one with issues, and now that I understand theory of mind, I realise that it must be really hard for her to cope with me, and that upsets me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Useful

      > Whilst getting a referral from my GP was quick and relatively painless, I'm still waiting for an actual appointment ...

      Hang in there.

      I went to my GP a while ago and asked for a referral. Excuse me if this reads like you're looking in a mirror, that's how the stories from some other ASD people read to me. Pretty well as long as I can remember, I've always had this feeling of "something isn't right", always been "socially awkward" and had to suffer (as commented by others) "normals" desperately trying to get me to socialise. I've tried a couple of the tests that are around on the net, and even allowing for an element of "knowing what the desired answer is" still scored a long way into ASD territory.

      My GP didn't know what the route was, gave me a short questionnaire to fill in, made another appointment where he looked at the results and decided it looked like I was that way, and I heard nothing for months - IIRC it was 6 months or more. Then completely out of the blue I got a letter inviting me to an appointment.

      It turns out that my timing was fortuitous - had I asked just a couple of months earlier I'd have been referred to the other side of the country, but my county had just set up it's own adult assessment service and I was one of their first clients (client ? patient ? customer ? what the heck !)

      If you get a similar service, you'll probably meet with more than one member of the team which has specialist nurses and clinical psychologists. My clinical psychologist said he found me interesting as a case - I'm not quite sure what to make of that !

      During one of the sessions I commented that they probably saw fewer younger people these days given the different attitudes these days to when I was at school. I was surprised to find they still get a lot of 18 year olds who've gone through school and never been diagnosed.

      Later, talking to someone else, it was commented that schools have a vested interested in pupils not getting a diagnosis. Once a pupil has a diagnosis of anything, then the school is required to give them appropriate support - but they don't have the funding for that and so it's in the school's interest not to get things diagnosed !

      Assuming you get a positive diagnosis, our service offers a number of post-diagnosis sessions to explore what it means, what it means for you, how to understand yourself and how you work (that's darned hard !), and how to explain to others what they can do to help you (such as being more direct, being more specific, and relying less on inference (such as saying "now" rather than "when you get 5 mins") if you want it doing now).

      It also qualifies you for assistance from Access to Work. In my case I've got funding for coaching sessions with an outfit called Genius Within.

      Depending on your work situation, it can make big differences there. ASD is a recognised disability so all the discrimination laws kick in and your employer has a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments. So if you have a knobhead of a "manager" who persists in relying on inference that you don't get and making it your fault that you don't understand his "simple questions"* then that's no longer a matter of having a knobhead for a boss, it's now a discrimination case in the making if they don't do something about it.

      * Eg, how the fook am I supposed to know that when he asks "how many <somethings> do we have ?" that he isn't actually after a number ?

      That wasn't the sole reason he's no longer my manager. The fact that I had a couple of months off diagnosed with Stress and Depression and cited him as a significant factor also influenced it, as did the fact that the workforce has halved in size over the last year or so and the people leaving cite him as a factor ! He's now tucked away back in his own corner of the business, and actively kept out of managing the business - and as far as possible, from dealing with customers who also don't like him !

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Useful

        Later, talking to someone else, it was commented that schools have a vested interested in pupils not getting a diagnosis. Once a pupil has a diagnosis of anything, then the school is required to give them appropriate support - but they don't have the funding for that and so it's in the school's interest not to get things diagnosed !

        Yes. Once upon a time education authorities provided direct support for kids with special needs and for more sever cases schools who got a child's diagnosis agreed could get an extra level of special support. (A "statement" with an agreed description of the need and allocation of resources). Obviously, where a child was showing some kind of special need the school would seek the extra support and funding

        This quickly became expensive, partly because of the real degree of need, since the totals of kids with various levels of need soon built up to a significant proportion of the school population. But also certain high profile groups were getting significant amounts of funding for their lobby. Whatever one's view on dyslexia, for example, it was clear that a very high proportion of the special needs funding was going to get very expensive private support for a large number of kids who were not the most highly disabled, often not even the worst readers, since access to a private psychologist or support organisation made a diagnosis much easier to obtain.

        A few years ago these kinds of support were massively reduced by restricting the support to "Low Incidence" needs and the schools made responsible for supporting more commonplace diagnoses ("High Incidence") themselves. Specialist central teams were disbanded or made self-financing, which amounted to the same thing.

        This seems to have lead to a next stage, in which schools are left with the responsibility and a fixed level of funding ( effectively part of the total pot) to meet virtually all needs themselves.

        A diagnosis then becomes a kind of financial straight jacket, with the school being required to make expensive provision for which they have at best been only partly funded.

    3. PDC

      Re: Useful

      Once my GP found the right person to refer me to it took about 7 weeks to go through 3 assessment appointments to getting the positive outcome. But then I understand that Bolton is 3rd best for provision for adults with autisim, so I guess I won the postcode lottery.

  19. Hairy Airey

    Just don't apply for work at Cancer Research UK

    They sacked me on the grounds that I "would not fit in"

    No employer would treat people the way they treated me - including offering me my job back "for a joke".

    The person who started this complained at a Register event that they couldn't get skilled staff. Hardly a surprise if you won't employ someone with Asperger's Syndrome.

  20. deadlockvictim

    The Price of Genius - Asperger’s syndrome and Irish History

    For those with an interest or a knowledge of Irish history, Michael Fitzgerald has written on this topic in 'Autism and Creativity: Is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability?' and it is published by Brunner-Routledge.

    One might also add the great Irish politician, Robert Stewart (a.k.a. Lord Castlereagh). He represented the United Kingdom at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

    Mark Harkin has a book review here:

  21. Sokolik
    Thumb Up

    Thank you!

    ElReg editors, thank you very much for permitting this topic in your editorial context. To be accepted, to be not stigmatized, is so encouraging for we stricken with mental illness . Stuart, thank you for your courage to tell your story. Your courage is uplifting, exemplary, and inspirational.

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