Need advise regarding potentially aspie coworker

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JaneDontKnow
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25 Jan 2014, 3:31 pm

Hi all,

I have come to this forum for your advice. Please don't take any of my questions as a personal attack, nothing I am about to say is a criticism of you or Autism. I genuinely need help.

I have just started a job where I am working with a person who I suspect has some form of Autism. Here are some of the the characteristics I believe correlate. Please correct me if you think I have made a wrong correlation, I haven't looked very deep into subject but the immediate information I have seen seems to describe him:

- intelligent, almost photographic memory about certain topics that make him the subject matter expert at work
- very tech savy but often 'breaks systems' or makes them harder for everyone else to use because he reprograms them to the way he thinks or solves a very simple problem by rewiring the whole server
-long winded, and insists on circling back to a topic once it has been dropped
- very very sensitive to criticism, in fact someone will criticize a computer system he uses (lets say Excel for instance), and he will take it personally and say something like "Everyone thinks they are smarter than me." when in fact you were talking about the stupidity of Excel
- does not adapt to other peoples changes at work but is constantly changing things himself
-can be incredibly patient with questions but also incredibly inpatient when you don't immediately understand his directions
-I and others suspect he sabotages things at work (like deleting other coworkers files) to ultimately be the hero
- points out others mistakes constantly to the point where he wants to keep a running count of other people's errors but becomes agitated when you gently point out something he does wrong
- has very little sympathy for others
-has mini-temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way or when he is interrupted
-mutters insults under his breath instead of directly addressing his grievances
- does have a sense of humor at times and then at other times he has absolutely none
- gets agitated at noises and in loud rooms
- is sometimes wonderful to work with but when it is bad, he is so very taxing on everyone
- loves to be the expert and command everyone's attention


Here is my dilemma. He and I had a good working relationship until he insulted my intelligence during an hour long tirade after I suggested he use less technical and more user friendly instructions for a "how to" booklet. I told him that he crossed the line and that I could accept all of his other behaviors but not a personal attack. Since then, work has been absolutely miserable for me. He no longer talks to me directly and is not willing to help me learn and fix things like he was before. I feel that I am working in a hostile work environment. One thing you should know is that I am female and I have been told that he has had issues working with other females in the past. Other male coworkers have told him to stop being so condescending and he doesn't give them the cold shoulder later like he has me. Work has been incredibly stressful with this person and I have thought about quitting over it.

Finally, everyone assures me that this just how he is, that he isnt going to change, that everyone knows how he is and I shouldn't be one bit concerned about him making me look bad because they all know how he operates. Yet I feel constantly roadblocked at doing my job because of him and his constant tirades and inability to accept other peoples ideas without first throwing a fit. It is so stressful!

Does this sound like Aspergers? If so, what do I do to make things better, because if it is Aspergers, I know that to a certain degree he can't help it and is doing the best that he can.

Thank you for any advice. Please forgive me for any typos, I have to run and dont have time to proofread.



Waterfalls
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25 Jan 2014, 4:03 pm

I don't know if it is it isn't. Either way, you need a solution, and it will probably involve doing something different.

I have definitely lived and worked with difficult people, here are a couple things that sometimes help me. If it is possible to go around this person for what you need to decrease the interpersonal demand on him (that he has trouble meeting) that may help. Because whatever the origin of the problem he seems not to be good at fixing it, which he may find frustrating. Another thing that sometimes has helped me when someone has taken a strong but irrational position, or basically had a meltdown, is to act as if the problematic incident never happened. That is kind of similar in helping get past a problem the other person does not know how to.

You shouldn't have to listen to someone yell at you or have tirades. I'm not sure if maybe a supervisor can deal with this, or at least tell you what they want you to do if it happens. If you are truly stuck and feel you have to deal with it yourself, that's really a shame and I am sorry. If the person is able to listen and can be asked by you, or someone, to behave in a more positive way in a very direct fashion, that might or might not help. And sometimes asking what the person wants and asking them to explain it can also help. And, depending on the structure if your job, if someone can run interference and protect you that also sometimes works, as it doesn't sound like he is going after you personally.

Some people with ASD have tirades, but it isn't something everyone does at all. You sound like a very compassionate person, seeking solutions. That's a really nice way to be!!



Willard
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25 Jan 2014, 4:06 pm

JaneDontKnow wrote:
- intelligent, almost photographic memory about certain topics that make him the subject matter expert at work


JaneDontKnow wrote:
-long winded, and insists on circling back to a topic once it has been dropped


JaneDontKnow wrote:
- gets agitated at noises and in loud rooms


These are the three qualities that sound most specifically like autistic traits, the rest well, maybe, maybe not.

Nobody can seriously attempt to armchair diagnose AS over the Internet. The true tests have more to do with sensory processing than with behavioral quirks. AS may be known in popular media as a set of odd behaviors (and they are a part of the diagnostic process), but it's essentially a neurological dysfunction, not a personality flaw. There is certainly no association of AS with misogyny.



JaneDontKnow
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25 Jan 2014, 4:23 pm

Willard,

Thanks for your reply.

You know, your answer actually gets to the heart of my question. I'm trying to decide what I should tolerate from him and where I can reasonably draw the line. Everyone says just ignore him, don't take his insults, defensiveness, and need to control the work place personally. Maybe as you suggest, popular media has mixed up what is characteristic of Aspergers and what is bad character and as a result I'm mixed up.

I appreciate your feedback very much!



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25 Jan 2014, 4:24 pm

I have to agree that it is impossible to work out if he has AS based on the information which you (or us lot here on wrong planet) have.

Sadly I can not offer a magic wand to fix him, I would like to comment that if he has been doing all the things you say he has then been behaving in a disgraceful manner. I think things like the sabotage are not acceptable in the workplace (regardless of your AS / non-AS / alphabet soup status).


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wozeree
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25 Jan 2014, 4:34 pm

Your best bet is probably not to get involved in figuring out what he has or doesn't have. Concentrate on documenting his behavior and filing a complaint. If you try to diagnose him to anyone at work, it might backfire anyway.



JaneDontKnow
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25 Jan 2014, 4:40 pm

Waterfalls,

I think your advice is very sound. I do have people who can run interference for me. In fact, my boss has already started to do so. This in itself, has made me very uncomfortable because I am like to solve my own problems. He was basically told that he is suppose to go through my supervisors in order to interact with the rest of the team. However, he has continued to interact with the rest of the team with the exception of me. And funny enough, I wasn't the one who initially brought up to him how insulting he was to me, it was another coworker.

Your most helpful comment is that that something down in him prevents him from fixing his obvious inability to work as a team member and that the origin maybe doesn't really matter. Perhaps you are right, confronting things rationally is too hard on him for whatever reason and I will just have to let it go.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I have to work on some things myself. I am a little over-sensitive and need to learn to let go of things I cannot control or influence. I just want everyone to get along and work stress free as a team, ha ha, I guess that is the idealist in me. Thank you for helping me along in that process! Your words struck a chord.



Wind
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25 Jan 2014, 4:48 pm

Sounds something like BPD maybe, not sure. It doesn't sound like Autism.



JaneDontKnow
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25 Jan 2014, 4:50 pm

Woodpecker and wozeree,

I'll stay away from diagnosing him. I guess his behavior is so unusual that I wanted an easy explanation and I kind of wanted an excuse for him because at first I really liked the guy and found him to be very helpful.

Hopefully, with the help of my boss and the support of my coworkers I wont have to make a formal complaint. I want to avoid that as much as possible. But I have started to document some of the things that he has done.

It's hard to prove the sabotage stuff. I almost think I would look bad officially bring that up unless I had absolute proof. But thanks for reassuring me that has nothing to do with something he cant help :wink:

P.S. Woodpecker, I have a red headed woodpecker that lives in my back yard and I love that bird!



JaneDontKnow
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25 Jan 2014, 5:07 pm

Wind,

Honestly, I think he does have some characteristics of Autism but based on the responses here, his especially toxic behavior can't be justified with the pop culture definition of Autism. And you know what, the responses on this board have made me realize that it doesn't really help me or the situation to diagnos. So maybe he does have BPD, Aspergers, Autism, Narcissism, or something... but you all have been great about saying that whatever is going on 1) I probably can't change it 2) it doesnt excuse him mistreating me or sabotaging my work.

You know, honestly the really, sad part is not that he stresses me out because I can eventually get over it and go back to my happy go lucky self. The really sad part is that he is chronically aggravated and he wakes up each day that way. He is literally red half the time and I wonder if his blood pressure is sky high. And ofcourse when you mistreat others on purpose, ultimately you have to take that up with your own conscience and your maker.

I'm so glad Iposted here and that you are all so willing to help me :-)



Waterfalls
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25 Jan 2014, 6:37 pm

I'm glad we helped. One other thing is that sometimes the media plays up people with ASD as having no concern for others. Although that isn't always invalid, and plenty of people here will write about not caring, most people here do not and would not intentionally cause harm, and in fact will usually reach out to help as much as anyone. Maybe more.

And people with ASD are likely to get into trouble with others for being too honest, and too direct, rather than for dishonesty.

I've glad others have noticed what's happening and are acting to support you. You keep doing the right thing and I really do hope this works out for you.



Niall
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25 Jan 2014, 7:38 pm

I agree with most of what has already been said. Some of what you describe is consistent with AS, but a lot of it isn't, and certainly not of AS alone. I'm not even going to think of making an armchair diagnosis, of AS or anything else.

For example, you write of him having no sympathy for others. This just doesn't fit the typical AS profile. Aspies are poor at reading the emotional states of others (cognitive empathy) - this is central to the diagnosis. This is not the same as sympathy. Let's say I screw up in a social situation, as I often do, as a result of that cognitive impairment. Once I understand that I have hurt someone, or offended someone, or made them uncomfortable, the affective response, understanding and feeling not only that the other person feels bad, but having some idea of what they might feel, is still there - to the point where I often wonder whether allistics have functioning affective empathy. For many of us with good long-term memory, this just doesn't go away, and may be one factor behind the fact that social anxiety is endemic around here.

It's this kind of thing, especially if he's committing acts of sabotage, that make me think that if your colleague is an Aspie, which is possible, then he's a pretty screwed up Aspie who has something else wrong, and really needs to be talking to a psych, regardless of whether he has AS.