This is part 2 of a series. If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to do so, and but if not, everything in italics is carry over from that post in case you have not seen it. If you have, skip past that part and move forward to the new information.
As some of you know I am on the autism spectrum. I am what is known as a highly functional autistic. Do I accomplish things? Sure. Do I have many of the traits autistics have, absolutely. Do I wish I didn’t? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are days…but then there are days I think I’m just who I am.
My case is a little different than most. I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was older (in my 40s). How could that have happened? Well I can sum it up quickly.
About ten years ago I got married to a wonderful, very understanding woman. We have three kids. About the time number two came along we had kids to pediatricians as every parent does. We answered all the questions about a variety of subjects, well our second son is on the spectrum. Then, I called my mother (the child’s grandmother) with a “kid update” and the subject came up. Low and behold, my mother said something along the lines of you were diagnosed with that as a kid and we never told you.
First, how could you not tell someone. But that’s not the point here. If I had known that years prior it could have saved me from making some huge mistakes in life, or at least allowed me to arm myself appropriately. Am I still angry about this? Well, in some ways, but I can’t change the past, and I can’t change who I am so I’m moving on.
Why put all this on my website, especially when you can see at the top that I have written some books that I hope you read and enjoy? Well, I came across this blog on wordpress called askpergers (askpergers.wordpress.com) that is realy well done. He deserves some thank you from me for helping me understand a few things.
The author had a post that deserves some attention. He listed out 7 different reasons for autistics being the targets of bullies, people who would take advantage of someone, or in general what I like to call assholes.
I will go into all 7 of his reasons and why I agree with him or can offer up some measure of personal example of how this happened and what might be possible to do to prevent it in the future.
Autistic people may not have as big a circle of friends to stand up for them as other people do
It has always been a challenge for me to make friends either inside or outside the workplace. When I make friends I tend to be clingy, I tend to want to spend every single moment with that person and if I don’t get that opportunity I assume something is wrong, then things get worse (especially with women prior to my wife, God bless her patience).
As a result there are very few people willing to “stick up for me.” You know how it goes. You are at lunch, on a break…someone says “hey what do you think about so and so.” It’s either he’s hard to get to know, or he’s clingy, or needy, or whatever. However, because I don’t have as many or make friends as quickly there is no one there (commonly) yes he’s a good guy! He should be put in this other job, handle these other tasks, bring him to the ball game, whatever the case that doesn’t happen for me.
That also leaves me in a position where in a career bullying may not be present (although it has been) but I am the guy who gets the work no one else wants. Typically this work is thankless and NOT the kind of thing that leads to promotion. It is the crap, the stuff no one wants, not high profile at all. It is a large challenge for me, and remains so to this day, but it is something I strive to improve upon personally. Hopefully someday I’ll get it right, then I can get the work that matters.
The challenge also, at least for me, is that when I do get the work that matters other people tend to find a way to take credit for it. Then it is my word against theirs on who actually did it, and it won’t be a fight you win alone, thus the need for friends in the right places! See, these social things really do matter. I wish I knew that earlier on in my career, but that’s ok you learn new things in life and move forward!