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Phillip McKay



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When should you , if at all tell a work colleague, he an Aspie?

Excuse the grabbing questrion I dont mean to be so blunt. I have worked with a colleague for some seven years. I had always known him to act strangely (strange for me anyway) but always accepted and worked around his peculiarites. I need to add that i wish only to act in his best interests. I value him as a team member and would never look to lose him from the team. There has been an occassion where , I believe, he may have unwittingly put a client at risk because of his condition and his behaviour does at times come across as rude, though I'm sure this outcome is often not intended. I am reading Attwood to garner as much knowledge as i can and to seek ways of moving forward. But I am left with still the unenviable possibility of having to broach the subject with him,. He's 48, lives at home with parents and just recently told me he had never heard of the word Aspergers when it came up innocently during a conversation. I have read that a diagnosis should be sought only when the dysfunction may intolerably affect relationships and work security. I know he has lost sexual relationships because of his syndrome and I have this feeling that letting him know would benefit staff in supporting him and for him to be more open to such. I have a feeling it might free him from the disguise and the sometimes elaborate and tiresome intellectualising he engages in to be seen as typical. In an often social setting at work I see and feel some of his pain, anxiety and coping. I felt if it was out everyone would feel better and most importantly, that he would. Apparently some feel liberated but the odd few can react poorly and become depressed. Help!! Thoughts Advice please. Particularly if you're an Aspie.


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    Feb 24 2012: Allan,

    There are indeed many positive aspects of Aspergers syndrome. Research shows that there are some positive aspects of depression (depressed people view situations more accurately, etc). Even with the benefits, people with Aspergers often experience profound isolation and difficulty dealing with day to day social interactions. I think that it would be difficult to argue that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

    Every human being exists along a psychological continuum. Society has chosen to label certain traits and behaviors 'deviant' once it pushes past a certain point on that continuum. Right or wrong, good or bad, I don't know. Certainly people who have been 'labeled' as depressed or Aspergers or whatever can find relief in their diagnosis or seek help to move to a more 'balanced' part of the continuum.

    But the reality is that people with psycho/social problems existed long before the field of psychology blossomed into existence. People simply dealt with these 'outliers' in their personal and professional lives and didn't think too much about labels.

    Did that help the people who were afflicted with the psycho/social issues better adapt to society? Probably not. Friends, neighbors and co-workers knew that something was wrong with them. They just didn't have a name to put to it.
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      Feb 24 2012: Hi Robin, I hear what you say and agree with much of it. However I have the following provisos:

      "...I think that it would be difficult to argue that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks."

      If an Aspergers person was forced to socially interact on someone else's terms, then it would indeed be a drawback. If he/she was able to interact on their OWN terms, it would most likely be beneficial. I guess this is down to what we in the end, regard as 'normal' - a profound mismatch with an Aspergers person's view of what normality looks like.

      The drawbacks do outweigh the benefits, but only when things are not tailored towards aptitude. In a work situation, higher-functioning autistics excel in jobs involving intense preoccupation and concentration, order, repetitiveness - but without much in the way of 'team playing' due to difficulties in social interaction.

      "Certainly people who have been 'labeled' as depressed or Aspergers or whatever can find relief in their diagnosis or seek help to move to a more 'balanced' part of the continuum."

      Yes, there is relief in having such a diagnosis, but I have found that people sometimes have a tendency to move more 'into the diagnosis' and are quite happy to stay there, rather than seeing it as something to either move away from, or to come to terms with.

      Usually the help people are seeking, lies within themselves. All too often, labels and diagnoses attract a medicalised approach, ignoring the internal helper that nearly always exists autonomously.
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      Feb 27 2012: Thanks Allan, I am back and forth with this topic and people's views here in this forum are taking me back and forth again. working with at risk young people where he is unsupervised, poses a few risks. On the social side of the job there are obvious shortcomings but he has over time learned to listen and pass on info that he hears. This is useful. His job is to work with young people and panel beat and spray paint cars. He is brilliant at doing this and providing tasks for the yp. His knowledge of cars and their parts and when they were made is amazing. at team meetings he zones out and misses a lot. he does not do very well at remembering stuff said in conversation , probablypartly because of the anxiety such situations create and possibly because he simply has difficulty processing social interaction from the typical perspective. I am thinking that if he actually had literature to work with and the problems (and they are problems) were out in the open then we could better manage the situation.

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