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Topic Title: Asperger syndrome
Topic Summary: Is the IET doing anything to support people with the condition?
Created On: 15 July 2008 11:02 AM
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 15 July 2008 11:02 AM
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jencam

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I recently found a very interesting article about Asperger syndrome and the IT industry.
 07 January 2009 10:16 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: andysuth

I think if you've made it into one of the industries that are biased towards Aspergers, you've generally got a mild form, so it'd be more of a family help issue.


What industries are biased towards Aspergers? There is no such thing as a mild or strong form of Asperger syndrome. You either have it or you don't.

Many people only discover they have "Aspergic Tendencies" after one of their younger family members are diagnosed with it.


This may be the case for the older generation who grew up in an era when Asperger syndrome was unknown, but my son has already been diagnosed with the condition along with most people born after 1988.

The correct response from an adult diagnosed with aspergers syndrome is probably "why should I care?" - if they've made it to adulthood with aspergers they're only (surely) mild, and (by definition) don't actually care that much what other people think about them?


This is complete ******. Some adults with Asperger syndrome manage to lead successful lives but others struggle badly and have difficulty obtaining and holding down jobs despite having a high level of skills and qualifications. Bosses and co-workers are not always sympathetic and sometimes have difficulty stomaching the idea of having to work with a person who has a condition or a label even if it doesn't affect the individuals ability to do their job. Help and support for adults with Asperger syndrome is next to nonexistent and there is little evidence that the situation will improve. This is worrying for younger people who have been given (some) support during their childhood.

Edited: 08 January 2009 at 01:44 PM by IET Moderator
 07 January 2009 08:03 PM
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gkenyon

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Originally posted by: jencam

Help and support for adults with Asperger syndrome is next to nonexistent and there is little evidence that the situation will improve. This is worrying for younger people who have been given (some) support during their childhood.
Interesting - and I agree. But I'm not sure that businesses will be ready to respond.

What we've got to get past, I think, is the extreme analogy they will use of putting someone with bad tourrettes on the sales floor in a high-street store.

And our "Engineering and Technician Competences" do seem to require effective communication skills. Conclusion: EC(UK) and Engineering Institutions are really supporting the business view by saying that to be a "professional engineer or technician" you need good communication skills. Hence, this means that someone with Aspergers may not meet the competence requirements - for whatever reason.

In reality, there are many people in the industry who are "one-track minded", "talk about my passion and I'll ignore yours", "call a spade a spade", "let me bore you to death with this technology/solution", and "don't care who I upset" type people - maybe there are other personality traits that Engineers/Technologists share with Aspergers sufferers and therefore this should mean that, as a group, we are able to welcome and understand.

But maybe because we are sometimes "don't care who I upset" type people, well . . .

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Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
 08 January 2009 03:05 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: gkenyon
And our "Engineering and Technician Competences" do seem to require effective communication skills. Conclusion: EC(UK) and Engineering Institutions are really supporting the business view by saying that to be a "professional engineer or technician" you need good communication skills. Hence, this means that someone with Aspergers may not meet the competence requirements - for whatever reason.


How exactly are effective / good communications skills defined in this context?

It is a very common mistake to assume that people with Asperger syndrome have poor communication skills or communication skills that are generally worse than those of neurotypical people. People with Asperger syndrome generally have difficulty in reading body language and picking up subtle social cues, and don't do guile or diplomacy very well, but really it stops there.

Most adults with Asperger syndrome have little difficulty in conveying information clearly in straightforward to the point English. They are generally better than average when it comes to spelling and grammar and factual writing. There are often a few differences and preferences in communication methods between people with Asperger syndrome and neurotypical people. Examples include a preference for email rather than the telephone, or preferring to spend a bit of time comprehending information rather than acting impulsively or in a presumptuous manner.

This might come across as ironic but it's often the neurotypical people who have worse communication skills than the people with Asperger syndrome. They commonly deploy subtle non-verbal communication that isn't always picked up on (even by neurotypical people) or use sloppy English better suited to casual rather than business communication.
 08 January 2009 03:11 PM
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gkenyon

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Jencam,

I tend to agree with you - good and bad with both.

But that won't stop companies from making the excuse - that was my point - yes, those managers who have to use (and issue instructions and requests in) "management speak" so no-one else can understand them, may well argue this way !!!!

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Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
 13 January 2009 04:44 PM
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jencam

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There is a good article about managing people with autism and Asperger syndrome on the British Computer Society website

http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=ConWebDoc.20934

It's definitely worth reading.
 24 March 2009 04:11 PM
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eswnl

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What I find annoying about this society is that it readily accepts one type of personality and not others.

It accepts outspoken, outgoing people but it does not accept introverted quiet people.
 28 March 2009 10:26 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: eswnl

What I find annoying about this society is that it readily accepts one type of personality and not others.

It accepts outspoken, outgoing people but it does not accept introverted quiet people.


It is quite common practice for job applicants to have to take a Myers-Briggs test which reveals their personality type. There are allegations that some personality types, including INTP and INTJ, are frowned upon by employers and most candidates with them are rejected.

A Myers-Briggs test cannot identify whether one has Asperger syndrome or is on the autistic spectrum because it was designed without knowledge of these subjects.
 07 April 2009 10:31 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: andysuth
If this is the case, why is it commonly referred to as "ASD" or "Autism Spectrum Disorder"?


ASD is an umbrella term covering a variety of conditions. Asperger syndrome is a specific condition.

I'd disagree: there are more disruptive forms of Aspergers and less disruptive forms.


How do you define disruptive?

As Aspergic people tend to appear insensitive to other peoples viewpoints, you wouldn't see an aspergic person working as a Relationship Councillor.


People with Asperger syndrome are less likely to be successful in positions requiring a high degree of empathy than neurotypical people are. However, many people with Asperger syndrome hold successful careers in HR or personnel departments.

Aspergic people tend to group into careers where they have more rule-based work, such as Computing, IT, Engineering. They work better with numbers than people.


I disagree with this statement. In my experience, under 16 year olds with Asperger syndrome who have a mathematical ability higher than average for their age is the exception rather than the rule. Even Luke Jackson says that maths is not his strong subject. What I think you are trying to say is that people with Asperger syndrome work better with things rather than people.

This is why there's actually a large number of children in "Silicon Valley" being diagnosed with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome: both mother and father came to Engineering and Technology because of their milder forms of Aspergers.

Simon Baron-Cohen did a survey of people at Cambridge with Aspergers in their family and found the ones studying Maths, Science, Engineering etc. were more likely to have a relative who has Aspergers or Autism. I can't recall the statistic, but it was interesting.


Interesting it may be but I hold these studies and statistics at arm's length. Areas with a better knowledge and understanding of a particular condition will almost certainly report more people with the condition than areas with a poor knowledge and understanding of the condition. I believe that Asperger syndrome is virtually unheard of in many countries but that doesn't imply that the percentage of the population with the condition is any lower than in Britain, or Silicon Valley.

Asperger syndrome has been known about in Germany and Austria since the 1940s. The English speaking world did not know about Asperger syndrome until 1991, and it only became an officially recognised condition in Britain in 1995. Something I find remarkable is that prior to 1991, there were almost no articles in English language psychology and education journals mentioning Asperger syndrome traits. If Hans Asperger's paper had not been translated into English in 1991 then it is likely that Asperger syndrome would be an unknown condition in the English speaking world today because there was no momentum building up for an independent discovery.
 07 April 2009 11:20 AM
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roddalitz

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Another name is "Geek Syndrome."

Anything which Einstein and Bill Gates share cannot be entirely bad.

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regards, Rod Dalitz (CEng MIEE FInstP)
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 07 April 2009 11:38 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: andysuth
'Disruptive' can be anything that would inhibit everyday operation. 80% of people with aspergers have not noticed any negative effects in everyday life.


Now I understand what you mean by disruptive. I really would appreciate where you get the figure of 80% from and the information to support such a figure.

Virtually all children with Asperger syndrome experience regular problems at school as a result of the condition.

Why would silicon valley have heard of Aspergers when people in other nearby areas of california haven't heard of it?


What evidence do you have to back up this statement with?

hence there are no articles about these traits prior to 1991, they are just one end of the human psyche.


Most Asperger traits in children are unmissable by teachers at school. It was common to dismiss them as bad behaviour or poor standards before Asperger syndrome was widely known by the teaching profession. What intrigues me is why there was almost no attempt to publicise some of the bizarre traits and launch further study into them. Observation is usually the first step on the road to scientific discovery.
 07 April 2009 03:54 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: andysuth
"Psychologist Syndrome" : an individuals obsession with catagorising every single aspect of "normal" behaviour and making a name for it which will be forever banded around as if it defines who that person is.


It's common practice for companies to subject job applicants to tests which allocate them to a box representing a particular personality or psychological type.

I'm very wary of these tests, and whether the outcome is accurate or appropriate, but there is no evidence that companies will abandon them in the foreseeable future.

Why aren't there more research done into "Irony Syndrome" - the "neurotypical" person's inability to actually say what they mean instead of saying the opposite.


This has been discussed at a meeting of parents of children with Asperger syndrome. It was concluded that the lack of research into this and similar issues all boils down to numbers. Majority and plurality define what is 'normal' and what is the cultural norm. If a high proportion of society holds a particular personality trait or attitude then it is generally regarded as a component of that society's culture.

School teachers might also have noticed the early signs of "Sporticus Syndrome" (aka "Beckham Envy")- an unhealthy obsession with sport that is pursued at the expense of all other interests.


Teachers have traditionally held sportsmen in high regard and consider them to be assets for the school. It's partially a cultural issue and also because many of the inter-school competitive activities are of a sporting variety.

I'd absolutely hate to live in a society without trainspotters, nerds, geeks. I don't understand why people say anyone diagnosed with "Aspergers" should be helped to "Normalise".


Referring to people with Asperger syndrome as trainspotters, nerds, and geeks is journalistspeak. There are plenty of people with Asperger syndrome that are none of these.

Perhaps instead of asking "Is the IET doing anything to support people with the condition?" we should be asking "Is the IET doing anything to re-educate people who suffer from the condition 'Aspergers-Intolerence'?"


I was waiting for somebody to deliver this statement.
 07 April 2009 06:14 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: andysuth
The handles of "Nerd" or "Geek" have definitely been in the English Language well before 1991, therefore to inferr that calling aspergic people these names is simply lazy journalism can't be correct.


It would be unjust to blame it on lazy journalism. As I have previously stated it is journalistspeak. Journalists have a liking of using a punchy and colourful style, or catchy but not necessarily accurate terminology in order to attract readers to their article. Nerd or geek is more catchy and better at conjuring up an image than say pervasive developmental disorder is. This is why the former terms are mainly encountered in articles about Asperger syndrome in the mainstream press rather than in professional journals. The reverse is true for the latter term.

Looks like I fell into your trap then!


Except there was no trap for you to fall into.
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