On Wednesday, 13/07/2013 my post regarding Asperger’s was republished by The Register. To say that the response, both public and private, from clients, friends, family, colleagues (past and present) and strangers, has been overwhelming would be an understatement. The article spent around 48hours in the top 10 most read articles on the site.
I’m stunned, and truly, sincerely, touched. The decision to share that part of me wasn’t an easy one. I don’t crave attention of the sort that was thrust upon me by its publication, and once I have it I really don’t know what to do with it.
I strongly believe that the following post belongs on a personal blog, not a business blog, however as I posted the original post here, it makes sense that this should go here too. After this I will no longer be posting on the subject. I am by no means an expert on it. If you believe that you, or someone close to you suffers from Asperger Syndrome, talk to your GP.
1. Why isn’t your phone number displayed on the website?
This is a question I receive from many sources. It comes down to workflow. I get a lot of inquiries on a daily basis and find it easier to manage those inquiries if I receive them by email. I also spend quite a lot of time everyday with clients, or deep in concentration. Stopping to answer my phone can cost me quite a lot of time in lost productivity, where answering an email does not. I have also published my phone number previously and been bombarded with Telemarketing, Scam calls and Scam SMS’s. Until someone comes up with spam filtering for phone calls and SMS, I’ll continue to accept your initial inquiries through my website, or by referral email.
2. What are the prejudices mentioned. How can they affect clients business ?
Like most IT Professionals I’ve encountered situations where I’ve had a bad experience with a particular piece of hardware or vendor. Unlike most IT professionals I have a tendency to hold a grudge, regardless of how baseless that grudge may be. For example: I loathe Sony. I don’t have any reason to loather Sony, other than that I had a bad experience with a Sony mobile phone in 2007. Unfortunately because of that I will never buy anything Sony produces. Ever. This is bad for my clients because it means that even if a Sony product was the best solution to a particular problem, I am highly unlikely to recommend that product because of personal issues. I don’t forgive easily and I don’t forget. The Sony issue is just an example though. They don’t make hardware or offer services that my clients are likely to use so its one that I don’t have to give up. Having said that I have developed checks and balances that are designed to defeat my personal prejudices. So far it’s always worked. I won’t ever rule out a product, service or vendor simply because of my personal prejudices.
Regardless of how I feel I will always do whats best for the client. After all, they are paying.
3. What is a lack of functional empathy? Are you a Sociopath/Psychopath?
No, it doesn’t mean that I am a Sociopath/Psychopath. I have Criminal Minds to thanks for the rise in this question. The term functional empathy is a misnomer. Known in clinical circles as Atypical Empathic Response, it simply means that in circumstances where most people would feel empathy for another person, such as noticing that they are displaying body language indicating that they are upset, I have none of the normal empathic response. Its not that I don’t notice, I probably do on some level, its that my brain doesn’t process this in the same way as those without Asperger Syndrome, and I come off as uncaring, aloof or arrogant. Also, because I don’t associate an empathic response with small details, I quickly forget them. Hence the reference to forgetting little Johnny’s name.
4. Asperger Syndrome isn’t real/devastating. You can learn to stop being like you are. Etc.
Not so much a question, but I would like to take the time to respond to this. I can attest to the fact that Asperger Syndrome is real, and that people with Asperger Syndrome struggle everyday. Some will never be diagnosed and will live forever incomplete. Part of me is non-functional and for years I had no idea why I was barely able to tolerate or function in situations that everyone else I knew was comfortable in or easily able to handle. Some of what I am can be controlled through medications. Some of what I am can be controlled through behavioral therapies/management regimes. At the end of the day though, I am what I am and will do the best I can with the hand I’ve been dealt, both personally and professionally.
To conclude, if you weren’t aware of Asperger’s previously I hope that I have helped you to become more aware. I dearly hope that this understanding helps breed more tolerance. The world can always use more tolerance. We are, after all, all unique. Some of us are just a little more unique than others.
PS. How do you catch a unique squirrell? Unique up on it.