Tips for working with someone with Aspergers

I love your posts about how to succeed in the work world as a woman with Asperger’s. Perhaps you could use your unique perspective to give non-asperger’s individuals some insight into how they should work with people that do have it? I think that for your socially adept readers that who have learned to recognize the signs of Asperger’s, it would be nice to have some concrete advice on how to interact with co-workers that seem to have it.

I am learning to adapt to my co-worker’s preferences (I believe he has Asperger’s) and am trying to be considerate, for example, by not making too much pointless small talk. More guidance as to how I should conduct myself would be just the kind of post I’d love to read! I feel like many of your posts detail how people with Asperger’s can learn to fit in the social world they live in – but how can I work to make it more comfortable and easier for them?

56 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Okay. Here are some tips for working with someone who has Asperger’s:

    1. Assume the person with Aspergers is not intending to offend you. Intention to offend is actually a complicated line of reasoning that someone with Aspergers doesn’t have.

    2. Assume the person with Apergers is always telling the truth. Lying is a complicated thing to do mentally. People with Aspergers don’t do those mental gymnastics. By the same token, things that sound rude are actually just the person with Aspergers telling you something straight that other people would sugar coat. Someone with Aspergers can’t see the difference between sugar coating and lying.

    3. Don’t be animated when you’re talking face to face. Mild facial expressions and monotone voice are easiest for someone with Aspergers to hear. You will think you sound like a depressive, but not to the person with Aspergers.

    4. Don’t tell jokes. People with Aspergers don’t understand most jokes. They are a little like lies, actually, in that you are saying something that is not totally true or not literally true. Too hard for someone with Aspergers to figure out.

    5. People with Aspergers hate to listen. So if you want to be heard, use email.

    6. You can tell the person with Aspergers to shut up. It’s okay. People with Aspergers talk too much, or have bad instinct of when it’s time to stop talking. But you can just say, “Okay. I’m done talking to you. Or I’m done talking about this.” The person with Aspergers will not be offended.

    7. People with Aspergers want to be nice. It’s very important to them even though you would never guess that by their actions. So if you tell the person what you want, and give specific direction, they will always try their best to do it, because they want to be nice. That said, them trying their best might look to you like not trying at all.

    8. Just because someone with Aspergers says no right now doesn’t mean it’s no later. No is a defense mechanism for “I don’t like change.” You can try asking again a second time later.

    I hope this helps!


    • Anna
      Anna says:

      I do agree with a lot of your points, especially numbers 1 and 2, but number 6 is horrible and I don’t think you should be giving advice like that to people!
      I would absolutely be hurt and offended by someone telling me to shut up because was talking too much. Treat people with autism with the same respect as anyone else. If they are missing the cues to stop talking, just change the topic, or make an excuse for something you have to do. Most of the time I would never ever guess if someone is lying about needing to do something else, so I won’t be hurt by that, but I definitely will be by being told I need to stop talking.

      • Danielle
        Danielle says:

        People with Aspergers don’t understand social cues about like changing the subject when they are talking to much that is more likely to confuse,frustrate, and hurt them then telling them to shut up. I understand their maybe be a better way to say it like your talking to much but honesty if your going to just change the subject that is way more harmful to THEM, for you it maybe but I’m assuming you don’t have Aspergers by your comment.

        • Traci
          Traci says:

          I suppose that you are Aspergers? You could not read between the lines when “shut up” was stated?

    • NB
      NB says:

      This is THE WORST response on how to treat us! Where do u come from Penelope? You obviously have no manners yourself and don’t understand a thing about Aspergers apart from your incorrect generalizations. You are actually a very hurtful person. Stop giving people this sort of shit advice. You actually sound as though you hate people with Aspergers.

      • Traci
        Traci says:

        I have a husband who is Aspergers. I love him. However. I HATE the behavior that has nearly destroyed our family. Any tips on how to help the communication problems is welcome.

        • Leslie Turner
          Leslie Turner says:

          my husband also has aspergers. i would greatly value being able to email back and forth with you so we can be a support to each other. are you open to that?

  2. Avodah
    Avodah says:

    Penelope, could you elaborate a little more on #1 “,1. Assume the person with Aspergers is not intending to offend you. Intention to offend is actually a complicated line of reasoning that someone with Aspergers doesn’t have.”?

    This in and of itself is complicated. My company has a very sr person who often says very offensive, very rude things (yes, he is the boss, he is sr, he has “earned it”, etc, etc), and people say he does this unintentionally. Does this excuse the hurtful or mean comments? I should hope not. Granted, I don’t know if he has Aspberger Syndrome.

    I suppose my question is, how much can, or should, we excuse by a lack of intent? People with and without disabilities are capable of being hurtful, even when they don’t intend to. This can make for a pretty dysfunctional and unhappy workplace.

    Sooo, how do professionals handle hurtful or rude comments, even if the offender didn’t intend to be hurtful?

  3. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Well, you can tell the person he hurt your feelings and you don’t like how he treats you. And you can see if he changes. If he doesn’t change, and you keep having your feelings hurt, then it doesn’t really matter if he has Aspergers or not: you should change jobs.


  4. Linda
    Linda says:

    My boss has aspergers and I’m in love with him. It doesn’t help that I’m married and he has a partner. We both have problems in our primary relationships and this is the reason he initially approached me; he was lonely and sad.

    I am very direct and honest but he’s not and we have ongoing misunderstandings because of this. Also working together closely causes problems primarily in our communication styles.

    Should I ask him why he hasn’t told me he has aspergers? I know for certain that he does.

    • Katelyn Kramer
      Katelyn Kramer says:

      What?? What are you smoking? This is pathetic, your boss is not interested in you at all. Move on.

    • R C
      R C says:

      No, you should try to figure out why you are behaving like a cheat and so unprofessionally. Worry about your own problems, instead of making them up for him.

    • Norah
      Norah says:

      1. Huh? Maybe he has, maybe he hasn’t, and maybe he has it and doesn’t know it. If he’s older than about 30 or so, he wouldn’t have been diagnosed as a child, and if he’s fairly successful in life it may never have come up, so he may not even know he has it, if in fact he does have it!

      2. But you shouldn’t even be worrying about that aspect right now, but about your marriage and if you want to continue it or end it, and also whether you want to stay in your job under the circumstances, or to find something else.

    • autumn
      autumn says:

      if he does have aspergers then shame on you!! How dare you allow yourself to get involved with someone who already has a hard time getting close to people especially when you are both married to other people. no matter what decision you make someone is going to get hurt. people with aspergers dont like change whether its for the good or bad. im scheduled to be married to a man i love next month but my brain is going outta whack thinking about the change. i havent been myself ive cried ive yelled. ive hurt the man i love just because the thought of any kind of change scares the shit out of me. i have aspergers and i can tell you right now even if you both want to be together it hass already been ruined because you made the mistake of allowing him to get close to you. you will devastate him if you stay with your husband and you will devastate him if you try to make any change in his life. You cant even begin to realize what youve done. The moment you decided you loved him is the moment you shouldve just walked away.

      • Cat
        Cat says:

        Good luck autumn. Your R/ship will be a challenge for you, but more so for your partner. I hope you are both going into it knowing what lies ahead. It will be very rocky

    • Cat
      Cat says:

      OMG, don’t even consider falling for an Aspie man. Your relationship would never succeed unless you were willing to make a lot of compromises and willing to have a lot of your needs not met

      • ELI
        ELI says:

        Amen to that!!! Aspies are not loyal at all, &
        u can do a million nice things for them, but
        do 1 thing they don’t like & they will Subjectively & Cunningly turn the situation
        into something that it wasn’t (which could apply to lots of people) but Aspies specialize
        in this sort of thing!! & about them not lying bwahaha, THEN what is it called when they BELIEVE AT THE MOMENT WHAT THEY FEEL, THEN DISCONNECT & DONT FEEL ANYMORE WHAT THEY FELT? ok maybe they are just FULL OF SHIT rather than liars (to be technical about it) Yeah in a nutshell Aspies are simply FULL OF SHIT!! & that’s putting it nicely!!! SPARE THE ROD!! SPOIL THE CHILD!!!

        • clinician
          clinician says:

          Aspies are loyal if you think you know an aspie that is not loyal he is or she is very likely on the autism spectrum and not Aspergers at all. they may have been misdiagnosed which is very common because most people do not understand Aspergers even clinicians.

  5. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Thank you for this! I’m the Aspie in my work place and my very accomodating, respectful superiors have asked how they should be treating me, but I never know what to say.

  6. Heather
    Heather says:

    I worked as an engineer for a major defense contractor for ten years. I was dedicated, well-respected, and was a top-performer. I basically succeeded at whatever I did. I loved the work and found it challenging. I enjoyed the social environment of the group that I worked with as well. I had a long history of getting along with everyone very well. Everything changed for me when my manager, who was having trouble dealing with a young new hire asked me to supervise the work of this new hire, a young male. Let’s call him John. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. John was quirky, antisocial and confrontational. I tried my best to ignore some very negative things that John would say about my skills as an engineer and my skills as a supervisor. I patiently tutored John on things he didn’t understand, and found that John was solely motivated by learning new things. He wasn’t concerned with trying to meet deadlines and working on things I asked him to. He set out on a goal to prove himself better and smarter than me at every opportunity. He was very critical of software I designed and was extremely critical of my software in meetings. His critical marks were way off target, because my software was written in a deliberately peculiar way in order to achieve fast execution time. He was unfamiliar with the techniques I used, and was very critical of it. When I explained to him that he was actually wrong to be critical of my design in the meeting and taught him the techniques I used to increase speed, he began to become very hostile towards me. He was determined to prove me wrong at any cost, which he never could do because I was right. After I piqued his interest with software techniques he had never encountered, then started reading textbooks to satisfy his endless search for knowledge while I tried to coach him into doing actual work. Exasperated, I approached the project manager, who just wanted to get the project done and didn’t want to waste time on “personality conflicts.” After numerous other incidents, my harmonious job of 10+ years had quickly disintegrated into a toxic, hostile work place. I was angry because the project manager didn’t really care that John was criticizing me at every opportunity and wasn’t following my orders. When I finally reached my wits end because John would not cooperate with me at all, I went to Human Resources (HR) to discuss the problems I was having both with John and the resultant problems I was having with my program manager who didn’t appear concerned about this very toxic environment that was ever worsening. HR called a conflict resolution meeting, and John was just seething with venom towards me. In the meeting he was calling me a liar and incompetent and was just behaving like a lunatic. I thought at this point HR would rebuke John and take my side. Much to my surprise HR took the position that I was equally culpable for the situation. John’s many shortcomings (critical remarks, antisocial behavior, would not do what his supervisor asked of him etc.) were of little concern to HR; they were only concerned that I wasn’t getting along with John and tried to find ways of improving our relationship. After several unfruitful meetings with HR, I eventually decided that I couldn’t stand working at a company that would let an insolent employee do whatever he wanted with no consequence. The company appeared little concerned that MY feelings had been hurt. I no longer felt safe at my workplace and worried about being attacked by this person that was so openly hostile towards me. It’s hard to be called names like “liar” and “incompetent” in front of managers and HR people and have them be ok with that. All this stress led me to quit the job that I would never have imagined that I would leave. As I was in my exit interview with HR when they revealed to me that John had Asperger’s and they tried to get me to reconsider leaving. I’d never heard of the condition before and honestly thought they said “Ass Burgers” which made no sense to me. It makes me mad that someone can be a complete disruption at a work place and turn it into a toxic environment and have everyone be ok with that because they suffer from Asperger’s. I’m glad to be gone from the torments of dealing with this particular Asperger’s sufferer. I periodically check in with friends at my old company to hear what John’s latest antics are. He’s still causing lots of problems and HR is still taking the position that other engineers who are having similar struggles with John need to work out their problems. Leaving that job had a very negative impact on my career and my financial situation and it was all caused because someone with Asperger’s was getting away with behavior that would not be tolerated by anyone else.

    • Kent
      Kent says:

      This guy sounds like a real turd. His behavior, however, has little to do with Aspergers. It sounds like he is a rude and arrogant person. The fact that he has Aspergers is not a contributing factor, but It has become the excuse he uses to explain away his qualities. I know people who are rude like that who don’t have Aspergers, the problem is that AS probably makes him speak out before considering the implications of what he says. If he was a friendly and compassionate person, you would be smothered in kindness.
      It sounds like Aspergers has become his standard fallback, “I can’t help it”, which was probably what his patents told people. If he thinks he can’t help it, he won’t try to change, and probably believes he is unable to, or that he shouldn’t have to.
      The fact is he could change if he wanted to. He just sounds rude.
      Just for comparison, I never act like that, I am aware of what I say and I’m cognizant of how that might effect others. I am polite, compassionate, empathetic. I listen to others ideas and am thoughtful of what I say in return.
      How can this be? I decided these things were important and I used my abilities to focus and reason to find ways to act in a way that’s thoughtful and considerate.
      If someone is an arsehole, there is little hope of getting them to change!

    • Linda Ellingham
      Linda Ellingham says:

      I know a guy with Aspergers who is like this. Let’s call him Chamberlain. He has an odd laugh that interrupts his speech when nothing funny has been said.
      He repeatedly told me some things that were unpleasant long after I indicated that I was not enjoying the conversation.

  7. nw
    nw says:

    Rachel, you should really think about how *you* want to be treated, and tell your bosses that. Penelope has good suggestions, but not all people with AS are the same or have the same needs.

    For instance, I almost certainly have Asperger’s, but I don’t have a problem with small talk or animated people. You too may have ways that you differ from what Penelope described, and you might have issues she didn’t mention.

  8. nw931w
    nw931w says:


    I’m an aspie, and this is what you should have realized: beyond trying to gang up on them (like you tried to do, in vain) the only way to deal with toxic aspies is to sink to their level, if possible. Or shoot them and bury them at a crossroads with a mouthful of garlic. Because they can scarcely be emotionally wounded or reasoned with. The situation is similar to working with a psychopath, the normal “rules of the game” no longer apply. ‘John’ was probably just trying to bully you into submission like a five-year-old kid, in blue-eyed earnest, and probably couldn’t even reason abstractly about his emotional motives for doing so. Think of people like him as the stereotypical geek male, but sliding towards truly inhuman territory and evil to boot.

    His motivation was to try to steamroll others into bending to his will using brute force and feigned anger, which obviously only works in a very limited subset of situations. Speaking for myself, I can behave similarly sometimes, but I generally use more subtle methods of manipulating people without using emotions like out-arguing them or simple ingratiation combined with some situational opportunism to make myself look better – the best way to get people to do what you want is to make them want to do what you want and in order to be manipulative (which people like me sometimes need to be in order to bypass the social networks that other people have, not neccessarily to abuse or exploit them) you need to know just exactly where the limits go. And, of course, I don’t want to be a toxic asshole like this guy.

    Now, if he’d had a more nuanced understanding of power and human wants he’d never have acted like that, so someone like him is obviously vulnerable to all sorts of manipulation. Personally I’d have used one of two strategies:

    1. Sucker him into thinking that you actually find some of his views relevant in order to lull him into safety and view you as a “good person” in his eyes (like Sauron or Megatron) then dangle a goal in front of his head to distract and occupy him. This’d rely on being able to communicate with him and not offend him – aspies get offended by other people trying to control them or behaving in a condescending manner towards them, so you’d have needed to make it seem completely natural, i.e. not too cheerful. If he’d smelled a rat you’d have been in a worse position than before. He might have hated you because you’re a woman, don’t know how to deal with that problem really.

    2. (This can’t be done in civilized society of course, but we can say that we’d be stranded on an island or in Russia or something) show yourself a ‘worthy leader’ through abusing him and generally being a total dickwad, Gordon Ramsey style – in his twisted little mind he’s probably thinking that overt might makes right. If he doesn’t recognize your strength guys like him flee like a scared cat. Unlike a psychopath he’d probably have been loyal to you after this because he doesn’t like change. I’m writing this option mostly to make you realize that poor fuckers like him is not thinking at all like a normal person – I’ve met a few of these people and they are mean as everloving fuck in a very childish manner and can’t be changed unless you’re a mad genius neurosurgeon. And they all corrode in mostly the same manner, too, men or women, so once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.

    All in all, it makes me sad thinking that people like this are walking around – part of why I mostly hide my diagnosis professionally – and if someone else ever finds themselves in a position like this, just remember that, yes, he/she actually is deranged and evil and out to get you – your experiences are real and not imagined on your part.

    • evenstarsexplode
      evenstarsexplode says:

      @nw931w-why would an aspie care to bully anyone? Aren’t they too interested only in themselves? You are saying they care but don’t know they care?

  9. Ann
    Ann says:

    I’m a person with Aspergers and a lot of Penelope’s points don’t apply to every person with Aspergers. In fact what she has written makes it sound as if we’re all stupid. I don’t know where she got all these assumptions but some of of them are downright incorrect….

    People with Aspergers can and do lie — good luck reading their atypical body language, however, especially if this person is a bad apple and doing it on purpose. People with Aspergers can be exceptional liars or terrible liars which makes it even more difficult to tell.
    People with Aspergers can understand and make jokes — sense of humor varies — it’s insinuations and double meanings that can be lost sometimes.
    People with Aspergers can be intentionally mean and insulting to others — you just may not be able to tell if this is the case or if they are being brutally honest about something. We aren’t all naive innocent angels.
    People with Aspergers don’t necessarily hate to listen, but they may have trouble responding on the fly. What you probably mean is they can have trouble engaging in productive conversations. Email allows us time to formulate our thoughts and respond to you the way we want to be heard. We know people can have problems understanding us, especially those of us who are aware of our conditions.

    If you came up to me and purposely spoke in a monotone manner I would think there was something wrong with you, as I have probably seen you treat other people differently. Last thing you want to be is patronizing to an adult who is aware they have this condition, and have them call you out on it with their brutal honesty.

    Be careful about the “no” thing. You may want to ask for a reason why they’ve come to that decision, rather than ask again. For one it’s more respectful, and secondly if you can convince someone with Aspergers that your idea is better for a logical reason there’s a good chance they will change their mind with little fuss.

    And please don’t tell us to “shut up”. How rude. You write it like it’s a joke when it’s a serious problem. Yeah you can say you’re out of time or don’t want to hear anymore, but don’t literally tell us to shut up. Some of us really do have bad sense of when someone is bored, but don’t be rude about it. We do have the capacity to feel hurt, despite that you appear to think we’re robots. Chances are if we’re speaking to you at length, we like you and trust you, or we’re only trying to help. Suddenly changing the conversation or talking over us is noticed. Telling us to shut up is noted.

    • mjaynes
      mjaynes says:

      “Suddenly changing the conversation or talking over us is noticed”
      You may notice. On a great day I may notice. On any other day if I get to talking about something that excites me I will not notice. The only way to stop me is to say something like “Stop, I do not want to talk about that any more. Let’s change the subject.” Without this segway would listen to the person who interrupted me than continue speaking on my favored subject. I have literally brought people to tears because they were to polite to say something like this. I lost friends over this. I would prefer a person use the the words stop or quiet over shut up but for me it is totally necessary.

  10. Els
    Els says:

    To Ann:
    As another person with Aspergers, I would like to thank you, Ann, for this polite yet clear and intelligent response to the author’s tips.
    I could not agree more with your nuanced analysis. While I’m sure that Penelope did not mean to offend, these tips reflect some very unsubtle preconceptions about people with Aspergers, making us out to be rather simple and slightly stupid indeed.
    To Penelope:
    I’m surprised that someone with Aspergers like yourself would contribute to this clichéd representation of autistic individuals. After all, why would you assume that certain attitudes preferred or exhibited by you or other people with autism that you personally know, would automatically be applicable to all other people with autism to the same degree? We do not make this assumption for neurotypical people either.
    And why, if you really feel the need to generalize, would you do so in a manner that is stigmatizing?
    If I were an employer considering hiring someone with Aspergers and doing some research on the subject, reading these tips might put me off a bit.
    I’m not attacking you, just very curious as to why you would write about us this way.

    • Cassandra
      Cassandra says:

      Kudos! Ann and Els summed up exactly what I was thinking in response to Penelope’s statements. Although, I did have a little smirk and sideways glanced when I read the parts claiming that aspies don’t lie and never intend to offend… How convenient it would be if everyone believed that! Oh, the things I could get away with….. muahahahaha *insert evil grin*

      • ELI
        ELI says:

        Asspies dont intend to offend, of course not!!!
        Cause they could care less if & when they do..
        It is simply the other individuals issue & the Aspie will simply Exit the situation as if U or it didn’t exist…….( which in the long run is natures way of ending the cruelty & disregard
        not to mention inhumane disrespect & appreciation they **cough cough** are unable
        to process) :)

  11. Kent
    Kent says:

    I always tell the truth, but not because lying would be too complicated a process, I am an electronics engineer with a major in Physics, I can wrap my head around complex ideas quickly and easily.
    I never lie because it’s against the rules, plain and simple. I believe that rules should be followed and that ignoring them can cause problems. Rules are rarely arbitrary and are usually derived out of a need to make sure things run smoothly and people are treated fairly, even when you might not understand the reason a particular rule exists.
    I know that not everybody sees things this way, and I know that people will act contrary. I am compelled to do so and I feel that as long as I don’t cross those lines, I have done my part in insuring order.
    Not everybody’s AS affects them the same.
    Although we share certain characteristics, we are as different from each other as anybody else.

    • Michele
      Michele says:

      To Kent and Ann, thank you for writing things I was thinking. I get so frustrated with articles written on Asperger’s because most generalize. The advice given on ‘how to deal’ with Aspie’s is often so off the mark, as if we are a different species. All it comes down to communication and being flexible enough to notice and respond to the employee’s needs…. whether they have Asperger’s or not. For example, Penelope doesn’t even discuss the fact that some Aspie’s are introverts and don’t talk incessantly at all. That’s a different challenge! If someone said ‘I’m done talking now’ and walked away, I would assume they were the ones with no social skills.

      As for lying, I’m not too stupid to figure out the process…. I don’t lie because it’s wrong and I’ve known liars and I don’t have any respect for people who lie as a way of making it through life’s challenges.

      The best advice to give anyone who wants to communicate better with someone who has Asperger’s is just to be observant, flexible, kind but direct. Get to know the person and how they receive information….. which is really what co-workers should be doing anyway.

  12. Amy
    Amy says:

    My partner’s son has Aspergers and is 13 years old. I do not know what to do when he is rude or upsets me. Do I ‘pull him up’ or write it off as aspergers syndrome?


    • Jack Folsom
      Jack Folsom says:

      You figure out how to get away. The aspie child will only get worse as he grows. As he comes into more social conflict with the world around him, he will start to act out. He will lie to, prank, mistreat, and berate the people around him.

      If you want to know what aspie teens are like, read “Look Me In The Eye” by John Elder Robison. Robison details in excruciating aspie style what it was like to be a kid growing up. Much of what he did was absolutely horrifying.

      I mean it: get out as soon as you can.

  13. Jack Folsom
    Jack Folsom says:

    I worked for a brilliant engineer/entrepreneur aspie. All I can say: what a prick!

    Aspies are the WORST people in the world to work for. First, they simply don’t comprehend the consequences of what they’re asking from you. Thus, when boss aspie wants you to work 16 hours that day and you balk because you have kids at home, that is completely lost on him and he becomes angry at you because he thinks you’re lazy.

    You see, aspies can work for 16 hours, which means they think everybody else can and *should* work 16 hours like they do. Us mere mortals cannot maintain that level of output, nor do we want to sacrifice our personal lives to it. Aspies don’t have personal lives. Their pursuit of execution is all they have. They can’t interact socailly, so it’s not like they have any parties or gatherings to go to. They’re rude, so they don’t really have friends or girlfriends. They don’t have an appreciation of the humanities, so they don’t even go to events. Aspies are little robot people who like hanging out with their little gadgets because gadgets are easy to control and they don’t talk back.

    Don’t believe me? Read the book, “Look Me In The Eye” by John Elder Robison. Robison is an aspie who confirms all of the horrible things aspies do. He specifically talks about preferring wiring circuits to spending time with nasty mean human beings because he has power over what the circuits do and when and they don’t hurt his “feelings.”

    Which brings me to my second point: boss aspies are micromanagers. You see, they have a definite opinion on the single right way to do every task: they way they would do it. If you don’t do a task the way boss aspie would do it, you are deemed wrong and incompetent. Again, Robison confirms this in his book. As a child, Robison took a toy from a little girl, explained to her how she was playing wrong, and tried to show her the “right” way to play.

    Boss aspies are just like their little kid counterparts. Except now their company is their sandbox, and you’re just there to carry out tasks like a robot they programmed. Remember how aspies prefer their circuits because they can control them? That’s how they want you to be: be a good little circuit for your aspie boss and let him control everything you do.

    My aspie boss dictated every detail down to how files were to be named: CamelCaseWithNoSpacesGermanicNamingConventionOfGenericToSpecific.ext because even though it was the time of Windows XP and spaces were allowed, boss aspie grew up in the pre-DOS/Win3.1 era when spaces weren’t allowed, and for some reason (doesn’t like change) decided that that arcane rule had to be respected. If you violated this rule, he would yell and demean you in front of the entire company. Because you didn’t name a file exactly the way he wanted files named.

    Contrast that with this inability to spell: he would yell out “how do I spell xxxxxx?” and someone would should back the answer. That’s right: if you didn’t know every last detail about a procedure, or you didn’t have encyclopedic knowledge about a subject, you were deemed incompetent. But aspie boss doesn’t know how to spell? Well that’s no problem.

    Like I said: what a prick.

    This brings me to a subtle, but important point about aspies: they don’t know how to compliment. For them, compliments are lies. If someone is good at what they do, then why do they need the feedback? The only time you need to comment on someone’s performance is if they’re incompetent. If aspie boss isn’t chewing you out and only hovers over you to verify you’re doing your work to his exact specifications, that’s a compliment. You’re not getting yelled at. Good job!

    And to my final point: you will forever have to justify yourself to boss aspie. There is no such thing as achieving trust in your abilities. Aspies don’t trust. They don’t understand the concept of, “this guy knows what he’s doing, so I don’t have to verify.” It’s almost pathological with boss aspies.

    Let’s say you and boss aspie have a disagreement about implementation or layout. Let’s say the discussion about ideas gets heated and boss aspie gets nasty and personal. Let’s say everything you say must come with a full brief of proof, like you’re stating geometry theorems for the first time. Let’s say you and boss aspie agree to put both ideas forward and see which one wins. Let’s say your idea wins. Let’s say you do this song & dance five more times and your ideas win every time.

    Do you think boss aspie will learn to let go? Nope. Boss aspie will put you through this torture every single time. Why? Because aspies get off on this process. They don’t find the back & forth emotionally or mentally draining. It energizes them. For them, this sick process is playtime for them. You’re feeding them in a way that makes their brains light up. To them, this is social interaction. To them, this is flirting.

    Boss aspie actually started referring to me as his friend after we went through this nightmare a total of 15 times. In two months. I reminded him we are absolutely not friends. He seemed genuine hurt and mystified. And then he demanded that I explain myself. With the same level of investigation as he would demand for any discussion. That’s when I told him to **** off.

    Run away from aspies as fast as you can until they get older and learn to calm down and grow up. I cannot recommend the book “Look Me In The Eye” enough. It will resolve so many mysteries for those of you who had to put up with the trauma of working for, or just knowing, an aspie.

    • Cassandra
      Cassandra says:

      Jack Folsom, you clearly have a chip on your shoulder. It is a shame that you had such a negative experience with your boss, who happens to be an aspie, but please don’t lump us all in that basket. It’s not fair to generalise and claim we are all like the person you have described just because you had a bad experience with that particular aspie. What you say may be correct for that person, who by the sounds of it has unknowingly been a complete jerk, but most definitely does not apply to all of us. To claim that all aspies are the same (which most definitely is incorrect) is akin to claiming that all neurotypicals are the same. Can you see the absurdity of that? Neurotypicals can be complete jerks too. The difference being that, for the most part, aspies don’t intend to be that way, and may well be unaware that they are behaving in such a manner. Some aspies may be antisocial and/or introverts who would rather absorb themselves in their special interests than try and navigate their way clumsily through the social arena (which they most probably don’t find rewarding), but many of us are actually quite social and not only enjoy the company of other people, but make meaningful connections with others and sustain friendships. In fact, many of us relish the opportunity to socialise, go out to social events and participate in the community. It would seem that your negative attitude towards aspies has tainted your own ability to experience empathy and understanding, which is a real pity. Clearly you have taken the time to do some reading and research on the topic of Aspergers, which would indicate that you had an honest yearning to understand us better, or at least to understand the behaviour of your boss. Yet, rather than having a better understanding, it seems you have chosen to project a sinister image onto us – which is not at all reflective of the vast majority of aspies, if any at all. I sincerely hope that you are able to overcome your negative perception of aspies, and maybe even have the strength to forgive your boss for his shortcomings, rather than hold onto resentment. Judging by your post here, you are an intelligent individual who is capable of compassion, so I have no doubts you are able to achieve that. All the best!

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      Negative, yes – but you just described my boss verbatim. That’s really creepy. This is the type of person I need to know how to work for. I clash with him daily and it doesn’t help that he held my position before he was promoted. So, I cannot do anything correct if I deviate from his former procedures, theory, etc. It is absolutely exhausting!

  14. ELI
    ELI says:

    Cassandra, I TOTALLY understand what u are trying to convey about Blanket Statements regarding aspies..Jack Folsom had a genuine
    1rst hand experience with an Aspie… What the
    world may need is some really benefiting relationships with aspies that don’t end abruptly & with a person wanting to stick forks
    in their eyes!!!!!:) I FIND IT REALLY DISTURBING & HIPOCRITICAL that if u treat an aspie the way they treat you ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE!!! IT’S RIDICULOUS!!! The best built in quality about an Aspie is their ability to leave U & the situation high & dry!!! Truly a blessing in disguise!!!!!

    • GeorgeC
      GeorgeC says:

      You have a MASSIVE chip on your shoulder!
      You’re obviously responding every so many passages with the same mantra.
      Sorry if you don’t like your Aspie experience but it’s NOT everybody with the diagnosis.
      I’ve got Aspies and if I were confronted like an adult instead of treated like a child (like MANY people tend to be at work!) I would probably own up to my behavior and try to get along better with people… that’s not everybody and there are a lot of people because of lack of maturity OR other issues that have NOTHING TO DO WITH ASPERGER’S who behave like sociopaths/psycopaths as you put it (Overdramatizing a bit, aren’t we? I DON’T like you but I wouldn’t physically hurt you, either!) and leave their co-workers “hanging” as you put it and make them work twice as hard to cover their jobs, too!
      I’ve had multiple situations at work that were NOT my fault including a) lazy co-workers who did NOT do their work — they goofed off for minutes during very busy work periods, sometimes hours on end, while I stressed and did what I was supposed to do INCLUDING THEIR JOBS!
      b) I had a co-worker take advantage of my situation and LIE to me about my boss and it got me into a nasty situation with my superior… it was only weeks later AFTER I left that job that I realized what that human POS of had done. In retrospect, it was also possible that the boss had his own issues, too. He might have been an Aspie but I’ll never know…
      c) I’ve seen first-hand what drug use does to people before they come into work… Sorry, but as inconvenient as drug testing is, working with people who are constantly high on the job is at least as bad if not worse than someone who is a total prick/bad boss to everyone!
      The sad truth is that many people in the US are delusional about people being high… It’s horrible to work with someone who is impaired and lacks clear decision-making. You want to talk about a sociopath I have yet to encounter another co-worker worse than the co-worker I worked with many years ago who came into work constantly high!!! This young man was a complete loaf at work, constantly disobeying the rules, a thief who tried to steal books and magazines from the store we worked at, and lied constantly and put me down in front of our department supevisor. The only good thing from that experience is that the store management realized quickly what a problem this guy really was… It took a snitch in another part of the department who caught the guy trying to steal to put him down for good!
      Much as I don’t prefer the way they handled it myself, they paraded the guy on the lower level of the store in front of other lined-up employees as an example of what they’d do if they caught people stealing. I’m sure he was put on a photo list of people NOT to be allowed in-store after he was fired….
      d) Responsibility for dealing with “difficult co-workers” cuts both ways… you can deal with it by talking to the right person (HR, whoever the person is appointed to deal with personal conflicts) and settling issues LIKE adults (if that’s possible — I think HR is a joke half the time, too), OR start looking for another job but in the meantime keep your present job until something pans out. That means dealing with additional pain and stress but everybody has to do that!
      e) Enough people have problems at work that have little to do with Aspie’s or whatever new diagnosis there is out there… a lot of us are VERY dissatisfied with our jobs AND also have life issues, too. I can’t help but think the corporate mentality of divide/conquer all and the general abuse of people’s trust in many situations fosters a lot of issues at work, too. You can’t develop company loyally if you feel like you’re being screwed from day one and that the boss really isn’t on your side, either. I have yet to work for a corporation where I didn’t feel like we were being taken advantage of and LIED to about our benefits before signing the dotted line on an employment contract.
      f) Many of the milder-tempered people who have mild Asperger’s are very reluctant to disclose that they have a genuine disability. Doing so CAN get you dropped from potential employment… dealing with long absences in employment is bad enough — most companies don’t want to take chances on people who have been out of work longer than 6 months — but regardless of what the law says there IS discrimination against people with disabilities.
      g) Regardless of what you read online, my own experience is that in general the government and companies do NOT know what to do with people with Asperger’s… there is no single one-fits-all solution because we’re all individuals and as frustrating as it is for PERFECT PEOPLE LIKE YOU Eli, it’s 20-40 times worse for people who are aware of the fact that they have a problem!
      h) Not everybody who behaves like a brat has Aspie’s… My own situation is that people come to work with their own agendas. Not everybody comes to work to earn money so much as burn off time. It’s more than just a few Aspies that have attitude problems, too. Some of us DO strive to get along and work with other people and do our fair share and help out regardless. The worst people to work with are younger or so inflexible in THEIR thinking that regardless of whether you’re dealing with an Aspie situation or have it yourself, it’s extremely difficult to be at work with those people, period. The worst work situations I’ve had — besides the pothead I mentioned earlier — have been with younger guys who were extremely immature and late to work all the time and stressed everybody else — AND also some extremely dumb people. By dumb, I mean there’s no question they were stupid — the dictionary definition was written on their faces and in the facts of their personal lives once they sat down and talked about those sad lives with you.

  15. Marc
    Marc says:

    Your simplistic views of Aspergers are half formed ideas unworthy of practical application and you need to stop spreading terrible advice!

  16. Mari-Helene Hvalbye
    Mari-Helene Hvalbye says:

    Hey you. I’ve got Aspergers syndrome syndrome. And I really have to say your advice SUCKS. Oh and that’s the honesty you’re talking about. We do get jokes, facial expressions and tone. You’re talking about mental gymnastics as if someone with AS is mentally retarded. Which is usually not the case. I do understand why people offend each other. It’s a tool to raise their own status one way or another. Or to defend themselves. I just chose to not part take as it seems like such a useless thing to do.

    The written thing, well guess what, most of the time I cant hear too much and the sound becomes jumbled up. Very hard for you normal people to understand. It’s called sensory problems. I work .

    Point 6 shut up yourself. Social cues also learning when to not talk, is learned through experience, rather than from intuition. You don’t tell anybody to shut up..

    Point 7 renders people with AS useless as employees and as humans in general. This is not true. I “their trying to be nice” If I could have a face to face conversation with you I’d show you something other than nice. People with AS have on average a very high IQ and a LOAD of talent to go with it. It just needs to be focuses and nurtured.

    And for the record I work as a freelance illustrator and bartender (according to everything you say that should be to complicated for me). My co workers had no idea before I told them. So FUCK you.

    8 What a load of crap. I find change a bit difficult to deal with because I see the world in detail. Details first, whole picture after (which makes me a REALLY good illustrator). You neurotypocals do it the other way. Everything around me has a a specific shape, colour, smell, feel, charisma if you may. When there is change all of those details change. But hey I’m dealing with it fine considering I’ve moved twice this year and I work in a busy bar.

    As a side note. I’m quite happy as a young woman with AS. I have been given a different (not faulty) perspective, and there is nothing wrong or shameful about that.

    If you do work with someone who’s got AS, stop being so judgmental and hung up on little details that really in the grand scheme of things (Oh used figurative language there cant do that apparently) he or she will be a valuable resource and not a liability. i don’t care about the latest rumor or the last fashion, girl talk and who’s got the most bloated ego in my social group. But hey maybe I’ll contribute to the world instead and do something that matters?

    Did you know that Albert Einstein was far advanced on the autistic spectrum BTW?

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    This is absolutely the most shocking, disrespectful and generalizing advice I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t take into account individual differences, nor does it allow for the possibility of Aspies to develop or perhaps not fix that “black and white” stereotype that they are FIXED like that and that’s all their life is going to be. You should really know better than this. You should also know far better than to post on sensitive topics that you clearly know so little about. Each and every individual is different, Aspie or not. You’d need to have far more experience than what you seem to currently have to even make a start at producing some kind of advice like this.

    And you can’t even say you were just trying to help…you should have known better than to post this is in the first place.

  18. Tony
    Tony says:

    1. I see that many negative comments about their boss who happens to be aspie. Your boss is always going to be an ass whether he/she is an aspie or not. Your boss supposed to be an ass these days.

    2. In practical world, aspies don’t last very long as a boss as they hate people and dealing with them. Aspies supposed to be (with exceptions) content with being alone and not having friends

    3. Aspies are generally exceptionally good in one area because of their ability to focus (or inability to multitask, whichever way you way you want to look at it). Usually, its technical stuff they are good at. In fact, almost every good computer engineer, lawyer, doctor etc. (the nerds) will fit into aspie category

    4. Dealing with changes is difficult for everyone. That is not specific to aspies or autistics. While aspies hate changes (to the degree of being phobic) , they also have nervous energy and extremely impatient and as a result tend to do things that brings more material changes in their lives. So it is basically oxymoron on their part to be phobic of changes at the same time be so impatient that leads to too many changes

    My $0.02.

  19. SilverStar
    SilverStar says:

    #1 is wrong. I grew up with a father with severe aspergers and there were times when he absolutely knew that what he was saying was offensive. It was his bitchy, passive-aggressive way to get jabs in. This is one interpersonal social dynamic that people can learn if they have a fundamentally shitty personality coupled with Aspergers. <–and yes this can happen. not eveyone with Aspergers "has a pure spirit"–they're not all Dustin freaking Hoffman.

    #6 is inhumane. I believe in respecting everyone. Even people with Aspergers, as annoying as I find these asshats to be. My childhood was wrecked by a controlling, cold, abusive, pedantic, rigid father with Aspergers.

    I also have had to deal at work with people who seem to have Aspergers. I work in a quasi-academic field that they excel in.

    There are polite ways to do this. Like saying, "O.K. that's great to know. But I can't talk anymore because I have to work now". They will get it, and you can keep your humanity.

  20. Brandon
    Brandon says:

    Thank you for the Advice. Dealing relationally with people like this is emotionally draining, and taxing on your mental health. Our friend was kicked out of his house and we took him in. But now after graduating high school we have to try to help him get his independence. And it is a long hard road of redundant stupidity. With this individual. People who think that its easy to be constantly offended and misunderstood daily, and constantly have a feeling like the hand that provides and keeps getting bit is insensitive than you haven’t cared for a person with AS. This is one of the hardest things is to treat a person with AS with human dignity and respect as well as trying to keep yours is next to impossible.

  21. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    I have a boyfriend who has a younger brother who has AS. my question is, why is he always so mean to me? today he called me stupid and incompetent because I didn’t understand something I read on the computer. I understand they don’t think before they speak but honestly I don’t think that calling me stupid is AS, I feel like it’s just him being a dick to me. he’s constantly putting me down and I’ve told him to not be so hurtful because it hurts my feelings, and I have also spoke to his mother with no avail. she just says “oh don’t take it personal, it’s just his condition”. what’s your opinion on the situation? should I continue to play nice or get mean as well?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      He’s not being intentionally mean. Being mean is actually a complicated emotion that requires nuanced and tricky maneuvering that someone with Asperger’s wouldn’t do. It takes way too much social skill. Being mean is deciding you want to say something to someone and then doing something indirectly to communicate that instead.

      This is all to tell you that he’s not being mean intentionally. He doesn’t see that those words hurt you.

      For you to get along with him you need to ignore when he says something hurtful. Or you could say, “That hurt my feelings.” But he won’t be able to change. He won’t be able to generalize the information – that is, if he hurts your feelings by calling you stupid and you tell him you don’t like that, he won’t be able to see that the same applies to a new situation – calling you stupid hurts your feelings. He won’t see that.

      Really, just stop making it all about you. Your boyfriend’s brother has a problem that has nothing to do with you.


  22. Teddy W.
    Teddy W. says:

    I have to work with a guy who has many Asperger’s symptoms. I don’t know if he’s actually been diagnosed with it. He’s rude, offensive, paranoid, mean-spirited, and doesn’t know when to shut up most of the time. Nobody likes dealing with him. Why should Asperger’s, or anything else, excuse him for being a total jerk?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Comments are closed.