Archive for the 'Careers' Category

Like many bright Asperger people, Bram Cohen ventured out into the workplace thinking he would find challenging and rewarding opportunities that matched his intellectual abilities and gave him the opportunity to interact with those smart and rational like him. Delusion #1.

He arrived to find people did things inefficiently, wrong, and just plain got on his nerves. As an adult, he took jobs in the computer programming field, but got annoyed when people wouldn’t listen to him and do things the right way. So he decided to start his own company, BitTorrent, a brainchild born from nine months of him developing a software program in his late twenties.

Thanks to Cohen’s BitTorrent, people can exchange large amounts of information over the internet, such as video and software downloads. They’ve also pirated lots of movies and other stuff they really should be paying for, but Cohen never intended his software to be for this use.

“I couldn’t anticipate the piracy. But I was very careful from the beginning to distance myself from it,” he said in an interview with Business Week.

A woman he dated, who eventually became his wife, had worked with autistic children and suggested that he might have Asperger’s. He did some considerable research on it, made a goal to improve his social skills, and learned to do all sorts of things neurotypicals do, such as reading expressions, making appropriate eye contact, and even…flirting. It’s probably safe to say that the girlfriend-later-to-be-wife was much happier when Cohen’s Asperger’s hindered him when it came to displaying the last social ritual with other women.

Once he learned to demonstrate certain behaviors and saw himself as the Asperger pretending to act neurotypical, he said he “realized how out of it I had been my entire life.” He makes sure he tells people up front he’s different and why, before they start to make up their own, and possibly wrong, conclusions.

Go here if you’re interested in watching a video interview with Bram Cohen.

Relevant Things Mentioned In Post:
Special Interests

Photo: Bram Cohen by Jacob Appelbaum

Image: Quick Silver on Surfer Village

Ladies, ladies, ladies: This special Asperger People In The News Is For You.

Clay Marzo is a good looking man in Hawaii who loves to surf and will be flashing his Malibu looks in the movie, “Just Add Water.” Funds from the DVD sales will go to Surfers Healing an organization dedicated to fighting autism. Marzo is 19 years young and only recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Like many Aspies, he’s always been drawn to his special interest and has become quite skilled at it. He has been recognized with 3 NSSA National Surfing Titles, a nomination for Maneuver (Surfing, that is) of the Year at the 2007 Surfer Magazine Poll and Video Awards, as well as video appearances in various surf movies.

Surfing does wonderful things for him, just as looking at him might do wonderful things for you.

“Just the feeling to get off the social side of everyone, just go surf and free your mind,” Marzo said.

He reports having sensory sensitivities and although sometimes social situations give him a wipeout, he’s quick to get back on board.

Relevant Things Mentioned In This Post:
Going MIA
The Special Interest
Possible Need For Earplugs

If you’re interested in reading the full stories, just go to KHNL as well as Surfer’s Village.

Images: KHNL

#17 Becoming An Engineer, Being An Enginerd

Written by SAPL on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 in Careers.

Right up there with Becoming A Professor, the career choice for many Aspergers is engineering.  People who are engineers are more likely to have a child or a grandchild who turns out to be an Aspie. There is definitely something in the genes. If you’re operating a piece of electrical equipment or driving down the freeway, you probably have an Aspie to thank or not thank, depending on if the freeway was designed with the town’s flooding tendencies in mind.

Engineers are usually not your party people. Engineering is a most nerdy profession and many Aspies enjoy this, because at least it flatters their intellect to know they are in a very mentally challenging profession. Some have been nicknamed “enginerds.” Career planning may take place when the Asperger asks him or herself: What kind of enginerd should I be? Depending on the precise algorithm of nerdiness and weirdness, there are several categories to choose from. Here are a few examples of the possibilities:

Biomedical/Biochemical: Not as nerdy as some other areas. Incorporating medicine into their interest may win points with nerdy, but cooler pre-med students. People are always interested in others who can make food taste better, last longer, and stick extra preservatives in them that they cannot pronounce. Ability to bring about advancements in pharmaceuticals may also impress hot nurses.

Civil: Middle of the road nerds. Not quite as cool as the biomedical/biochemical. Usually possesses good social skills to possibly even trick some neurotypical to marry them with the neurotypical thinking that this is the way math and science geeks behave. And size does matter-if you can design a really tall, big, fancy building you will be elevated to stardom status among enginerds and regular people.

Electrical: Level Extreme Nerdiness. Just plain weird. Even Steve Urkel crosses the street to avoid them.

#13 Heather Kuzmich And Her Hot Legs

Written by SAPL on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 in Careers.

Freddy Reshew/Pottle Productions

Heather Kuzmich is one well-known Aspie who many consider to be of importance in the culture. She was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model who made it to the final 5 on the Cycle 9 series last year.

Kuzmich is appreciated, revered, and adored by Aspergers for several reasons. One, she brought Aspies to the limelight on a national television show watched by many neurotypicals who may not have been aware of Aspergers before. She also showed that women and girls too are indeed Aspies and shattered some stereotypes that it’s just a male thing. Because of this, possibly more gals will realize they are Aspies or stop covering up their Aspie traits just because they can do it better than dudes. Clinicians might wise up and recognize girl Aspies as well, but as any Asperger who has dealt with those types of neurotypicals knows…some dull pencils in the box are harder to sharpen than others.

She came across as intelligent, articulate, and well-adjusted.

She also had a great pair of legs.

And what fantasies both neurotypical and Aspie men held to procreate with her and produce their very own Aspie mini-me, dominating and taking over the world with their abilities to talk for hours about horses, engineering and IT skills,  logic and analytical superiority, and hot pairs of legs.

Although her tenure on America’s next top model didn’t result in a victory, she gained fame, respect, other modeling opportunities, and proved she and other Aspies, not only can have hot legs, but can compete with any regularly wired individual.

#9 Becoming A Professor

Written by SAPL on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 in Careers, Hobbies and Special Interests.

Many Asperger people obtain careers in academia.  Often, the academic area of interest is something that was a special interest growing up. For this reason, becoming a professor is much like a “Revenge of the Asperger nerds,” experience.

In the old pre-PhD days, the Aspie had to find someone willing to put up with their endless hours of “drosophila fly mating” facts. When the Aspie becomes a professor, she finds joy in knowing not only will she be able to discuss the sexual behavior of flies, but people are willing to pay thousands of dollars and go into debt to hear her speak as well.

Great pleasure is taken in giving 2-hour speeches where students are now at the Aspie’s mercy-forced to take notes, maybe even pretend they are interested and ask questions if participation points are included in the grading system. The Aspie Professor loves giving telephone book sized notes and telling her students, “No cherry picking will take place,” as any ridiculous fact may be thrown in on a test. 

The Asperger Professor will eventually become tenured after publishing dozens of papers about his fly voyeuristic experiences and being given lots of money by people like National Institutes of Health and various organizations he has convinced through careful con-artist intellectualizing (otherwise known as grant writing) studying fly sex will save the world. Or the children. Or the whales. It really just depends on the organization and how much money they’re willing to give him.

Finally, the tentured professor job is the opportunity for the Aspie to prove (at least to himself) why he really was put on the earth and that descriptions used to label him years ago by professionals that were obviously not as bright as he is (Pedantic, little professor syndrome) seem perfectly befitting and not abnormal at all. “Pedantic is good,” he thinks. “People are inherently stupid and it is my job to teach them. Or at least make them have sleepless nights memorizing fly sex facts.”

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