January 3, 2019

I work in an office, and I find that I get along better with coworkers if they understand a bit about how my brain works. These are the top things I’ve found it helpful to explain.

  1. I have a disability, which is also in some ways a superpower. It affects how I process information, which in turn affects everything else.
  2. I notice tiny details. If anyone needs help double-checking something, I’m a great person to ask.
  3. Since I’m so focused on details, I sometimes miss the big picture. I need help to prioritize and identify what’s worth my attention.
  4. I do my best work when I avoid interruptions. If I lose my train of thought, it takes some time to get back on track. But I’m capable of very complex tasks when I focus on them.
  5. I take instructions very literally, not reading between the lines or guessing at what’s implied.
  6. Bright lights and loud sounds feel extra bright and loud to me, so I try to block them out when possible.
  7. I have trouble processing audio, so meetings and phone calls can feel draining for me. I need time before to prepare, and time after to recover.
  8. Since I try to follow rules closely, I get confused if they’re ignored in practice. I like knowing exactly what’s expected of me.
  9. Sometimes I fidget with a small object. It calms me, and helps me to think more clearly.
  10. These things are true because I’m autistic. Many of them are true for other people too, but all are more common for autistics.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.