Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Advice about Asperger’s and work from Penelope Trunk

My husband sent me a link to a blog by Penelope Trunk, a professional woman with Asperger’s syndrome (and no, if you followed the link and read the title of the post, my husband was not suggesting to me that I am annoying at work).

Trunk is an entrepreneur who founded Brazen Careerist. And today, when I followed the link, I learned that she is also a woman with Asperger’s syndrome.

“Work, by definition,” Trunk says in her post, “is a social skills decathlon.”

And it’s true. I had a very hard time originally finding work when I was out of school.

My first real job out of school was with a Marin County company that published a newsletter for executive job hunters. It was a small office and I was unable to handle the politics that seemed to accompany the job. Roughly one year later, my employment was terminated. The reason was not clearly explained to me.

The person who  hired me for my job with the Record-Bee took a chance on me because I did not interview very well. But I did my job well and I earned positive reviews for skills that became evident after I was on the job. That was about 15 years ago, before I knew I had Asperger’s.

When I learned there was a name to describe my constellation of traits, I was very forthcoming about it. I wrote extensively and my columns were published in the Record-Bee.

I took as my example Molly Ivins’ crusade to raise awareness of breast cancer so, really, not writing about my Asperger’s was never a consideration for me.

Trunk’s post is worthwhile reading for its advice about doing better at work. It’s comforting to be validated in my preference to spend less time with people:

“We can be normal in small spurts,” Trunk says. “We can look charming and quirky in small doses but in large doses, it's overwhelming. So go out to dinner, but then go home. Go to the company picnic, but just talk with people for a little bit. Then leave.”

Trunk advises following the rules, which is good advice but what happens when two people behave in a way that, on the surface, seems to break a rule but one of them gets away with it?

When I observe situations like this, I can’t help but wonder if something else is going on. To have any chance at making sense of it, I have to play social anthropologist.

1 comment:

  1. Well its true that aspergers people are not comfortable in interacting with others but that doesn't mean they are not succeeded, Like in this post, you and ms. Trunk suffering from asperges and still succeeded in life.


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