To give a quick analogy: most people have output filters to prevent them from saying things that other people will consider to be abrupt, rude, or irrelevant. Most spectrum people have input filters instead, developed to keep them from being hurt by the world. When an input-filter person talks to an output-filter person, the speaker might sound overbearing, arrogant, or impolite. When an output-filter person talks to an input-filter person, they might sound smarmy and unwilling to convey essential information.
Or... they might not. Endless variations exist, and some people on the spectrum have learned to emulate output-filters, make subtler points and ask clarifying questions. All of this takes a lot of processing time which has to be done in emulation mode rather than having native subroutines, so when brain resources are scarce -- say, when under stress -- they get less priority.
And that's just one aspect of the spectrum. The reporter managed to get one really good quote in:
“People with my type of disorder, it’s not that we don’t have emotion,” Gadson said. “It’s that we have too much emotion. We can’t push that stuff back.”
If you take away one thing from this article, that's the right one.
I wish there were a safe place for such people to communicate online. Getting downvoted every time you say something you perceive as completely innocent is quite tough.
Personally, I feel like I'm not doing anything worthwhile if I'm not saying down-votable things. My internet points are the currency I use to say things that I know people will disagree with, but that I believe are worth serious consideration anyway. If I am being up-voted all the time, I would probably be in an echo chamber posting affirming memes.
I'm not interested in hearing solely from people who agree with me, either.
Think of it like a cat vs a dog wagging a tail. Usually a cat with a wagging tail is agitated - a dog with one is happy. Just because a cat with a wagging tail swats at you doesn't mean they are happy to attack - it means they are stressed out and you disregarded their clear signal!
I say usually because there are outlier cases that learn the other conventions. See Tally the Husky for an example who even does the "cat-loafing" pose of hiding all legs while sitting.
I mentioned it already elsewhere in this thread, but if you want to explore things further it may be worth taking the RAADS-R . While the test itself, and self diagnosis in general, is in no way comprehensive, it may help, and can be the first step towards a diagnosis.
I never did, I function fine and one advantage to been a programmer is none-techies expect you to be eccentric.
I don't think I am but it's good top cover.
Oh crap. I chose the quiet office without windows over the noisy office with windows, then I took all but one of the bulbs out of the overheads and put a lamp on my desk.
The email thing hit a bit too close to home, I always worry about the tone and whether I'm been too blunt, my boss has commented (not disparagingly) that I can be direct, I asked if that meant rude but apparently not, just direct.
Personally that seems wrong, it seems like particular traits compound together and that people exhibit fewer/more of those traits to a greater/lesser degree.
Not sure what the professional psychs think about it currently?
1. If you've met one person on the spectrum, you've met one person on the spectrum. The range of non-neurotypicality is extremely broad and highly individualized.
2. Most spectrum people have input filters instead, developed to keep them from being hurt by the world.
This isn't a leading question, as I don't really know enough about the subject to have an opinion. But I'm generally skeptical of all message board commentary about autism. So I'm not saying you're wrong, I would just need more convincing before I'm persuaded that most autistic people have "input filters" to prevent them from "being hurt by the world."
More generally I can see why grouping people into "output-filter" types and "input-filter" types might be a good faith exercise in empathy...but is it actually true? Going back to your first statement, you're talking about autism as something highly individualized. How is this compatible with an idea that seems to suck all nuance out of it, like a binary grouping?
I also have a problem with Gadson's claim:
On one hand I can see why this is an attractive idea, for the same reason we'd want to empathize with "input-filter" people. On the other hand I see two problems. First, is Gadson's claim a useful one? When people perpetuate the stereotype that autism causes emotionlessness, do they actually care about the interiority of the person or are they talking about behavior? If what they're trying to communicate is in regards to behavior, I don't think Gadson responds to the heart of their meaning; which is probably something more like, "I'm uncomfortable around autistic people because they're robotic and unsympathetic" (NB I'm not expressing a personal belief here). In a very real sense they're still right despite Gadson's reply, because they're talking about behavior and Gadson is talking about a rich interiority.
The second problem I see with Gadson's comment is that it seems like he's generalizing autism again. Do all or most people with autism want to be described by the comment, "I actually have too much emotion"? Would they consider that mostly correct, a gross oversimplification, a useful or useless oversimplification, or wrong outright? It seems like no matter what we do, we can't get away from the problem of a few people speaking for everyone when it comes to autism.
I picked one column off of a matrix and pointed out that most people considered to be "on the spectrum" have a high value here, whereas most neurotypical folks have a low value in that cell. That's not the only difference, it's just one that's easy to pick out. But it's also not a guaranteed indicator: if you've got an input filter and no output filter but you aren't actually on the spectrum, you can change the value there relatively easily. Read Dale Carnegie and a couple of books on communication styles and practice for a week or two: boom, you've switched over.
People on the spectrum can't do that easily. Instead of being a skill that they just haven't picked up, it's a method of analysis that takes a lot of work, remembering all the rules all the time.
Except, of course, there are people who find it more or less hard, and have put more or less work into it, so the results vary. Lots of gradations.
As to Gadson's comment: it is actually helpful from the perspective of neurotypical people who are trying to empathize with spectrum people, because it provides a reasonably useful metaphor for them to work in. The general perspective is called the Intense World theory of autism.
It can lead you to good analysis which yields workable solutions: by reducing the need for strong input filters, they can free up brain resources for doing what needs to be done. Environmental noise? Visual distractions? Organizational improvements? Working with everyone's strengths improves everyone's outcomes.
As to "I actually have too much emotion" as a descriptive phrase: if you take out the negative connotation of "too much", yes, I think it does describe one aspect of autism really well. "I feel things more intensely than neurotypical people do, and as a result I want to/have to block things out" might be a more universal description.
Please don't trivialize challenges of NT people. It is hard for ANYONE to make significant behavioral changes. In particular the evidence is that 'self-help' books like the one you mentioned are essentially ineffective.
Hmm. And of the things that can cause feelings, people might be at the top of the list, and therefore the first to be blocked out?
That’s what people used to say about women throughout history and called the disorder “Hysteria” (just a physical problem caused by the uterus, solved by tittilation by a doctor) until they realized that it was as scientific as bloodletting.
Many people have no idea what they are capable of, in many areas — sports and cognitive taskss included — until they learn a system.
Most people will tell you no way can they remember 1000 digits in a row. But then they learn a system and it becomes second nature.
EDIT: It has been one minute and already the silent knee jerk downvotes have come. No answer just downvote.
Before you downvote or shame this comment into not having the appropriate response to autism (ignore the meta irony of “appropriate response” being the issue in the first place) consider how many kids, adults and elderly are overmedicated because the underlying system is causing “disorders”. Whether it’s almost-methamphetamines given for ADD (the “hysteria” of the 21st century) or elderly being medicated in nursing homes for complaining, perhaps people are not as powerless and dependent on medication as they are made out to be. One in four middle aged women is medicating herself with psychiatric drugs in the USA. There is a new opiod epidemic too. This is the new normal — call something a condition instead of dealing with it. An exception may be gender dysphoria, which is dealt with differently.
Instead of medicating the kids for ADHD, consider why your school system makes them sit down and shut up for 8-10 hours a day. Why does Finland magically have far less ADHD? Instead of automatically prescribing medications for depression, perhaps we should re-evaluate a system where people are lonely for years, commuting from their apartment to their work and back, with chronically elevated cortisol levels until their brain adapts.
USA is one of the most overmedicated, and chronically depressed population, exceeding countries with far less wealth. Even countries with long darkness which naturally causes depression have higher levels of happiness than USA. We have no universal healthcare and we have more gun violence and more incarcerated than any other developed country. But of course in every area there are people who say “nothing can be done, shut up, you’re not supposed to point out that other countries and systems have less of these problems. It’s just the way things are!”
This was on a recent Joe Rogan podcast going deeper:
Instead, I find that it's a typical office that made a ton of mistakes and changed things just enough to get by.
And, much like I predicted, those changes were things that most people would be happy about.
It's pretty predictable that being told to clean off your desks, and then coming in the next week to a completely redesigned office would be off-putting for a lot of people. They don't need to be on the spectrum for that to be a stressful situation. Maybe many people shrug it off pretty quickly, but they shouldn't have to. Just freaking tell them what's going on. And since it's their workspace, maybe even let them in on the redesign during the planning, too.
I was surprised that offices weren't a thing, and they still tried to do cubicles. And their employees were forced to do things like put monitors between each other to stop their perfectly normal behaviors from getting on each others nerves.
At my previous job, the CEO put in really expensive lights that we didn't ask for. Because they were expensive, he got upset when we turned them off and insisted we leave them on. We did, but we didn't like it. We even put up cloth to block some of the light for those who really hated it. When we got moved to another part of the building without the special lights, we turned them off and that was suddenly okay. Ugh.
In short, I think most of the stuff in the article applies to people in general, and it'd sure be nice if managers would realize that.
It's not autism. Ignoring a stimulus takes effort. It diverts resources that you could be using for something else.
Having lived outside of the U.S., I think this is a particularly American problem. We have strong extroversion/optimism bias here, especially in the hiring process.
One of the worst aspects about being high functioning is having to choose between authenticity and acceptance.
(I've done something right in my life that one of our office buildings was built with not-soundproof-enough walls on the private offices, so the office manager/ops person (who stereotypically would be the one fighting this for budget reasons) was the first person to suggest/drive the "we should completely rebuild our 6-month-old office to have better sound isolation and even more private offices".)
People talk around their real concerns when others are listening. Especially if there are toxic optimists in the room.
A good first step may be the RAADS-R test, which you can take here . While not comprehensive, your results will be shown alongside those of people on the spectrum for comparison, and you can get a good idea of where you stand. If you do pursue a diagnosis, it could help to bring a printed copy of your test. The site also offers various other tests, including ones for voice and face interpretation.
It's helped me to treat myself and others with a lot more compassion. My mental health and productivity have both improved dramatically. It has been truly life changing.
it might be an answer to a small question that works as a keystone to greater peace.
* It can give you an understanding of how your own brain works, so you can better tailor your life to your strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, any amount of self-reflection will help with this, but an actual autism spectrum diagnosis will give you some insight into which aspects are actually biological and very hard to change versus potentially more mutable.
* It will help the people around you better understand you and which parts of your behavior are your "fault" and which are because of your brain. Many of the classic ways that autism presents itself would be hurtful to other people if done by a neuro-typical person: talking over someone, shutting down when stressed, avoiding social interaction, not picking up on signal, etc. All of these come across as selfish or uncaring if you don't know that that's how the person's brain works.
In practice, I think the latter is more useful than the former.
As a kid? It opens a lot of doors for additional help and accommodations in schools. This will of course vary by state and district, but it was a game changer for our son.
Hey, I got quite a high score, pretty happy with myself I guess.
Oh wait ...
It's like I when had a friend from another country. English was not his strong point, and I quickly learned to not infer nuance from his word choices.
My brain goes into kernel panic and forces me to restart from GRUB using an earlier build.
I, personally, am on the spectrum and have very strong empathy and emotional understanding. It wasn't natural, but it is a skill I developed after much hard work trying to get by in a normie world.
It does, however, cause a high cognitive load. My analogy is software emulation. Most people have dedicated hardware, but I have to do it in software at a cost of increased CPU usage.
Tldr; you can't make sweeping generalizations about which jobs a diverse group of people should be allowed to work. Bad bosses come in all shapes and sizes.
Also, don’t you think having to “emulate” things reduces your throughput compared to a “normie”? Wouldn’t this imply that you might be worse than other people at managing people because your pipe is saturated?
Yes, assholes in particular are bad at being managers.
On a more serious / less sarcastic note, you seem to have a preconceived notion of what autism should look like and/or what range of behaviors it entails. There _are_ types of it that would cause one to be an exceptionally bad manager, but there is also a strong possibility (that I think you need to consider) that your manager's flaws weren't caused by autism at all. People with severe autism typically don't make it into management positions in the first place.
I consider myself to be on the spectrum. I'm never the "heart of the party" (nor do I ever feel any desire to go to parties), I find it somewhat anxiety inducing to approach people I don't know well, stuff like that, pretty mild. If it I didn't feel like it impacts my life in a negative way, I'd call this "strong introversion" or the like.
Yet I'm basically the polar opposite of what you've described in your original post (other than being hard-ass on code quality), and I've received glowing praise from my former reports. I give people guidance and autonomy, and let them be adults. And if they aren't, I give them more guidance and perhaps very slightly less autonomy. If they can't function in this set-up, we part ways. This, by the way, happened only once. The person just didn't want the job I think.
Of course, this doesn’t have anything to do with you (according to your post, you seem like a good manager), I’m talking about the statistical distributions.
And while I understand why someone might get offended by a statement of the form: short people are slower than average at running when you are a short person who runs very fast, I am just describing the distribution (in which any individual could be an outlier), not an affirmative statement like: there does not exist an autistic person who is also a good manager.
oh the irony!
I had an investor in a company I started who used his position as a giant dick-waving platform. He would constantly come in and tell us that we shouldn't be paying ourselves salary, or that he could make more money by opening a lemonade stand.
Eventually I started having thoughts and dreams about, if not killing him, him having a terrible "accident."
I think if you haven't wished death on someone ever in your live, you're either living in denial or haven't met a wide enough range of people. One day you might have to associate with someone who's entire existence you find vile and pointless, and you might change your tune.