TED Conversations

Phillip McKay



This conversation is closed.

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 23 2012: first, you no psychologist, so it is a vague assumption at best. weird can sometimes just weird. antisocial sometimes just antisocial.

    second, i don't exactly believe in such blunt categories. unless somebody shows me the exact gene or biochemical/neurological disfunction behind aspergers, i refuse to treat it anyhow differently than an artificial categorization of social inaptness. we don't have a name for people that are bad at recognizing flavors, we don't need a word for those that read emotions and social situations badly. certainly, he has specific problems that need specific solutions. putting him in a box won't help.

    third, you don't need to treat him special. if you have an advise to him, tell him. if he is hurt by honest words, it is his problem. your job is to behave responsively and with good intentions. if he has aspergers, and not something very different, he reacts well to reason. on the other hand, he might react not so well to "handling". don't handle. be straight. beware though, because he can be something else, like simply sociophobic, or whatever. one can never know.

    if you want to be cautious though, try to recommend, maybe not to him, but in a "broadcasted" form, some "pop" materials dealing with stuff, like temple grandin's TED talk, or the feature film about her life. grandin's TED talk even fits to a "team building" setup.
    • thumb
      Feb 24 2012: Thanks Krisztian. Yep i never claimed to be a psychologist but that doesnt excuse me from acting on my 20 years experience working in mental health and reading psychology texts as well as associating professionally and personally with professionals. Not being a psychologist doesnt minimise my concern. Incidentally he has been to a psychologist for depression and none of the social stuff was picked up on at all.Yes we all hate the labels but labels can direct us to information and that has been useful - what is in the box can teach us much.People with aspergers can also react poorly to criticism. he can become defensive in order to cover up his errors.Krisztian, my research of Aspergers and looking at diagnostic assessments and having known him for 7 years points to Aspergers. (there we go there's that label again but it does help to identify the social and cognitive differences). I hear your thoughts and i have been there with you but further reading is swaying me in another direction. I want to help him and thec best way forward I am thinking is for him to be able to discover what it is that makes him different. This way, I believe from personal accounts from other Aspies, is that it really can make a great difference in their lives. A positive difference.
      • thumb
        Feb 24 2012: i'm a little troubled that you replied to everything except my recommendations. maybe you "react poorly to criticism"? :)

        okay, srsly. why do you think that calling someone an aspie is criticism? make it sound not like criticism. i hope you don't think that being and aspie is something to disdain. you would not have this problem if you suspected him being color blind.

        anyway. if you get rid of that "how can i help this poor guy out of his misery" attitude, he might take things much better.
        • thumb
          Feb 27 2012: You're right Kris, If i may? Tomorrow I shall go with great news . Hey man you're an Aspie , how cool. Reality is I do think its cool. But that's my facination with the novelty and interesting processing and behaviour. For him i believe it has been difficult, has led to anxiety, depression and isolation. It has probably led to huge cover ups and I know it has led to failed relationships. I dont see him as some poor guy and i'm not sure why you suggest that i think Aspies are someone to disdain? I am acting as i would with any other friend who i thought needed help. He just happens to have Aspergers. Whole point is Krisz, I actually feel compelled to bring about change that will firstly benefit him, the clients and the team. and will ensure that everyone is safe.By the way it was remiss of me not to respond to your recommendations. (You're not an Aspie are you?) I will view the talk you suggested and i am hearing what you are saying. I cant locate the gene and the diagnosis has not been made. Geeeze Krisz, there's no problem at all! Take care.
      • thumb
        Feb 27 2012: "You're not an Aspie are you?"

        i will not ruin the game! use your "20 years experience working in mental health and reading psychology texts" to find it out!

        btw, how weird it would be from me to say i'm an aspie after i declared that i don't believe in such categories. i'm a follower of a lesser known psychologist Andrew Feldmár, who even rejects the notion of schizophrenia, depression and other blunt labels, and calls for focusing the actual problems of a certain individual.

        one of my favorite advises of him is this: for no mental condition it is helpful to allow the person to act irresponsibly or rudely or anyhow inappropriately. empathy is good, but we can't just let some people get away with inappropriate behavior because they are labeled X or Y.

        ah, btw, your deadline of watching the grandin talk is tuesday midnight. i dare you to miss it.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.