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  #26  
Old 04-18-2009, 04:50 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I was diagnosed with Asperger's in 2003 after two years of failing college classes. It's probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm not anywhere close to being fully functional yet, but I graduated at the end of last year and have been able to address a number of quirks that made interacting with people... difficult, to say the least.

Also, those vaccine conspiracy theorists are nutters and Jenny McCarthy needs to get the fuck off my planet. Now.
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  #27  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:27 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I did okay in college. Sorta. ADHD+autism+no-treatment = graduated in 3 years with a GPA of 2.69.
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  #28  
Old 04-18-2009, 06:21 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I have gotten my communications with our head programmer down to where I will at least get a response now. For a long time I thought he was just an asshole, or incompetent, then I found that if I didn't send him enough information, or the right information, he simply didn't know what to do and so did nothing. Not out of malice, but more not considering that he should ask me questions or run some tests on his own...that didn't even occur to him.

Now I send him detailed reports of the exact issue, my testing step by step, and the results and I have to state that it is consistent/can be duplicated. If it's sporadic he ignores it.

I get responses now consisting of "It's fixed" or "It's broke" (meaning it won't be fixed anytime soon as it's not a priority)or "Will be fixed next update"...never an explanation of the cause or solution or prevention of future occurances.

Anything you would suggest to get more useful responses?
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  #29  
Old 04-18-2009, 06:34 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

Yes!

Tell him. Explicitly. I don't know what your role is, or what your relationship is. If you're not in his chain of command, do you know whether his boss may have told him not to talk to users "too much" or something like that? That kind of thing can have unanticipated side-effects. A common problem is oversharing -- responding to an end-user with a detailed analysis of the bug, which is of no use.

In general, with people who are probably autistic, just say what you want. If you want to communicate that you're having an emotional response to the way he responds, you have to tell him what it is. He probably won't guess. So, for instance, I might say:

I would appreciate it if, when I report a possible bug, you would give me more information. If it's broken, I'd like to know more specifically what I have to avoid to not trigger it, or whether there are going to be side-effects that could cause data loss or other problems. If I haven't given you enough information, please ask for any additional information you need. I can't guarantee that I can give you the information you want, but I will try. If you aren't sure what I'm asking, just ask me.

...

Do you know whether he's specifically diagnosed as autistic? People who have a diagnosis, or at least self-identify as having some form of autism, tend to be fine with talking about it explicitly. The usual assumption that people will be offended if you talk about a disability is usually wrong. If I'm doing something wrong, I generally like to know about it.

I'm apparently now very pleasant to work with, because at one point my manager took me aside to explain how other people need to know about the status of things I'm working on which they are expecting. For instance, if I can predict in advance that I'm likely to miss a deadline, telling someone when I figure that out is much more useful than telling them a week later in a status meeting.

You might think it'd be obvious, but it isn't. I don't have much intuition for what other people know, or want to know.
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  #30  
Old 04-18-2009, 12:24 PM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime by Mark Haddon is an enjoyable book written from the point of view of an autistic character.
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  #31  
Old 04-18-2009, 02:17 PM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I haven't been formally diagnosed with autism to my knowledge.

But the whole 'Is this person happy or angry?' thing I totally get.

seebs, do you ever get the following:

Sometimes I lose track of a person actually being a person. I can see all their body language, and it doesn't mean anything to me any more. Sometimes I can know what it is, but it doesn't elicit the same emotional responses.

It's rather like when you over-use a word too much, and it becomes meaningless? Sort of like that. Only body-language, and not from over use, it just happens.

It's very unpleasant.
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  #32  
Old 04-18-2009, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

Quote:
I don't know what your role is, or what your relationship is
I do customer support and he is the engineer that created the whole unified communications system. He has no boss technically though he kinda sorta is supposed to take his priority cues from the CEO or the President (more often he sets his own). We are a tiny company so I can't really work with lower level techs.

I don't know if he has been formally diagnosed, but really there is no question in my mind he is on the spectrum.
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  #33  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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Originally Posted by Dragar View Post
Sometimes I lose track of a person actually being a person. I can see all their body language, and it doesn't mean anything to me any more. Sometimes I can know what it is, but it doesn't elicit the same emotional responses.
Yup. That was how I saw people most of the time originally; now I mostly see them as being people, but... I'm pretty sure that it's not the same. Everyone else has color vision, I've learned to read wavelengths on a spectrometer.

Quote:
It's rather like when you over-use a word too much, and it becomes meaningless? Sort of like that. Only body-language, and not from over use, it just happens.

It's very unpleasant.
I find it sorta relaxing, people stress me out by being other entities. :)

I do this to the cats, too. Especially when I'm sleepy. They stop being self-contained entities and start being furry objects.
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  #34  
Old 04-18-2009, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
I do customer support and he is the engineer that created the whole unified communications system. He has no boss technically though he kinda sorta is supposed to take his priority cues from the CEO or the President (more often he sets his own). We are a tiny company so I can't really work with lower level techs.

I don't know if he has been formally diagnosed, but really there is no question in my mind he is on the spectrum.
Risky step: Ask him about the autism. Note that despite the general emotional resilience, autistic people can be offended by implications of mental disability (especially if they don't think they have one). So phrasing it still requires some attention. There's a world of difference between "are you fucking stupid, or are you just some kind of autistic?" and "One of my online friends is autistic, and his description of how he focuses on projects reminded me of you, do you know if you might have some autism spectrum traits?"

Somewhat risky, but less so: Tell him that you'd have a much easier time filtering things and getting him good bug reports if he gave you more verbose feedback. He may blow this off, not viewing support as relevant to what he does. ("Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down? It's not my department, says Werner Von Braun.") Basically, tell him what would be useful to you to help you do your job, and ask him how you could help him. Autistic people who don't have the intuitive sense of social give-and-take will still comprehend offers for mutual benefit.

Also risky, but perhaps worth considering: Tell one of the higher-ups about your concerns. Be sure to phrase this in a relatively positive way. If he's doing good work, no one's going to want to start anything that might result in additional conflict. But... The fact is, if you're having trouble with him, other people probably are too, and if that could be improved, that might make everyone, including him, a lot happier.

One thing that has extremely low risk, which you can do, is read up a bit on autism and likely social impacts, and see if this helps you interact with him. Predictive power is a good test of a theory.
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  #35  
Old 04-19-2009, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime by Mark Haddon is an enjoyable book written from the point of view of an autistic character.
Yeah, that was a good book.
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  #36  
Old 04-19-2009, 01:16 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I enjoyed it. I read one review by an autistic person who felt the book was totally unrealistic... I think, though, that one of the problems people have is that they assume that individual autistic people have to be all-the-same. The diversity of experience is actually pretty comparable, I think, to the diversity of experience of non-autistic people, it's just centered differently.
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  #37  
Old 04-19-2009, 01:19 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

Every time someone tries to diagnose me with a personality disorder, I change symptoms.
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  #38  
Old 04-19-2009, 01:19 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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Every time someone tries to diagnose me with a personality disorder, I change symptoms.
Ah-hah! You have psychological hypochondria.
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  #39  
Old 04-19-2009, 02:05 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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Originally Posted by seebs View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyrrho View Post
Every time someone tries to diagnose me with a personality disorder, I change symptoms.
Ah-hah! You have psychological hypochondria.
Not if he doesn't think he's sick. Maybe Münchausen syndrome?

Tell me about your mother :therapy:
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  #40  
Old 04-19-2009, 02:05 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I have shown a lot of schizoid tendencies in my life. Would never go to a shrink willingly though.
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  #41  
Old 04-19-2009, 02:55 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

hypochondria would be not thinking you're sick. I think.

I mostly like shrinks. The era of "we think you're weird, you have to take pills" seems to be mostly behind us.
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  #42  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:00 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I think I have some kind of ASD and it was especially evident in my youth. So many things I just didn't "get" and from my later reading, all characteristic of ASD. It wasn't just what I failed to get, it was my behaviour, value judgements, everything.

But there was a point in my late teens when I consciously decided I was broken and was going to fix it. At the time I blamed my social impairment on an obsessive relationship with computers and programming. So for a couple of years I took a break from that, moving to a bohemian part of town and making a conscious effort to seek out artists of all kinds, to immerse myself in things like hip-hop contests, poetry readings, art protests (too long to explain here), left politics, eastern mysticism and everything else I associated with feely people.

Change did happen and I recall particular things that were breakthroughs: When I finally started to comprehend, for instance, that I could not learn charm or empathy with conscious, laborious logic. That I had to actually shut down all the chatter in that part of my mind and train my intuition instead, because all the detail-obsessed reasoning was actually preventing what I had to learn. That I should just crack a joke as it occurred to me, and not stare at people uncomfortably afterwards, searching their faces for validation and spiralling off into mental loops if it was a miss. That I should laugh at my own clumsiness. That the best way to have a sincere smile is to feel actual happiness welling up inside of you. That you could achieve that in the worst of situations if you just detached yourself from shit. That wearing a sincere smile 90% of the time just seems to smooth out social interaction sooo much.

When I got back into computers after a few years break I ended up training people, among other things, and according to the feedback I got I was quite good at it. Particularly at identifying what people weren't "getting" themselves even if they were bad at articulating it, then helping them with simple analogies and such. 16-year-old me would have failed dismally at that.

I was also writing and performing a lot of poetry at that point. Poetry written not with lofty abstract ideas and multiple layers of meaning in mind, but rather written for maximum effectiveness when performed in a very active, physical way on stage. Poetry to delight the ears with elaborate rhythm and musical words in a noisy jazz bar while making its political or social point clear. That culminated in performing one night between the sets of some of SA's jazz giants: Hugh Masakela and Dorothy Masuka, which was fantastic.

The funny thing is, as I retreated from that life years later, I found myself becoming less articulate in real-time again, occasionally uncomfortable and awkward in social situations because I couldn't find that stride which came so easily for a while. So now I'm on the verge of 40 and its almost like there are two mes.

Sometimes all it takes for the social one to come out is a glass of wine, then I'm confident, playful, amusing, receptive and seem to have the perfect anecdote most of the time. Other times its like I'm out of sync with everyone, not parsing anyone's emotions correctly, stumbling over myself with every step. Like its an enormous effort just to have a casual conversation. I'm acutely aware of it because I know what its like to be the other way.

I don't know for sure if I ever had any kind of ASD but I think I did or do and from my own experiences I think there is certainly a process by which people can fix themselves, even if they have to keep working at it their whole lives. I've read a lot of seebs accounts and I certainly think if I share some kind of disorder with him, he's manifested more severe symptoms than me. And I can see the continuous evolution he's gone through as a human being just from his online persona, starting back in the IIDB days.

ETA: Not to imply that seebs ever projected an unlikeable persona. He came across as sincere, intelligent and compassionate back then, as much as now.
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  #43  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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I mostly like shrinks. The era of "we think you're weird, you have to take pills" seems to be mostly behind us.
Involuntary commitment however is not. While I haven't been anywhere near suicidal for years, it would be hard to open up to a professional and not mention that I had been that way for long stretches of time.
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  #44  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:09 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

It's certainly possible to improve dramatically. What I've been working on since I got officially diagnosed is mostly triage. There are some qualities that are simply not going to change. I can work with them intelligently, but I can't make them not be there.

Examples:
* I can learn to read facial expressions fairly well, and do so fairly reliably.
* I can't make it not stressful or more-like-work to read facial expressions than to communicate in text.

What this means is that, when I do have compelling reasons to have "face time" with people, I can do it well; I can be charming, friendly, and likeable. But it doesn't change the fact that I'll be stressed and burned out if I do it too much.

My autistic traits are a lot more noticeable when I'm stressed or overworked. Quite simply, overcoming them is work. So if I need to do other work, I might give it a miss. During our "bug blitz" (all the engineers working on clearing out our bug queue), I did five consecutive weeks of working fairly close to ninety hours a week. I warned people early on that anything they wanted me to know had to reach me as text, not voice, because I wouldn't retain voice information... Then dropped all that stuff and went to pure analytics. I continued to be social and funny in email, because that's a skill I can use without having to work very hard at modeling. I dropped most of the other skills and just figured people could cope. And... I did about 2x the debugging of any other person, give or take. Which was, in context, a good tradeoff.

I guess... I think it's a bit risky to start thinking of a "cure" -- to me, that sounds like something where the extra effort has gone away and there's no longer a real difference there. And I don't think that's likely anywhere near our current level of medical technology. On the other hand, coping skills and acquisition of useful (and atypical) talents? Very possible, and I think almost always rewarding.
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  #45  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:10 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by seebs View Post
I mostly like shrinks. The era of "we think you're weird, you have to take pills" seems to be mostly behind us.
Involuntary commitment however is not. While I haven't been anywhere near suicidal for years, it would be hard to open up to a professional and not mention that I had been that way for long stretches of time.
That could be an issue. I don't know; my spouse used to be suicidal moderately often (was originally diagnosed as "bipolar", but seems to have been in large part just the tendency for ADHD to get misdiagnosed as bipolar). Never got a hint of a whiff of involuntary commitment noises from a shrink. "Can you handle it?" "Yes." "Good."
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  #46  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:24 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

Seebs, something that's always fascinated me... what do you think about the fact that an extraordinarily high number of software engineers seem to exhibit symptoms of Aspergers? I can't help wondering whether, like schizophrenia (which a large proportion of very creative people exhibit) its as much a blessing as a curse. That the apparent increase in ASDs is, in fact, an adaptive response of some kind to an increasingly technological society.

I don't have well-formed thoughts on this but it strikes me that a lot of that feely stuff demands patterns that are antithetical, or at least orthogonal, to the mental patterns best suited to programming.
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  #47  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:32 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

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Seebs, something that's always fascinated me... what do you think about the fact that an extraordinarily high number of software engineers seem to exhibit symptoms of Aspergers?
Linux spreads autism!!1!
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  #48  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:42 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

As someone who had to commit her mom at age 13, I can say that it takes more than one person to commit someone involuntarily.
Also in order for someone to have to take action, there has to be a current plan, with the means to carry it out, in the case of suicidal thoughts.
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  #49  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:59 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

I'm pretty sure that a professional can have someone committed if they think that there is an immediate danger to the person or others. I used to know someone that had it happen to them and while the details were never made clear, they always protested that they weren't planning anything at the time.
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Old 04-19-2009, 05:11 AM
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Default Re: Autism, Asperger's, ASD, and maybe people who are just annoying.

They can recommend commitment, there still has to have a hearing before a board before anyone can be involuntarily committed, if I recall correctly.

Local laws may vary, also it was a long time ago.
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