28

With Asperger's, the trick is always when to explain it (in a non-awkward situation). I'd like to avoid mentioning it if possible, but it has gotten to the point that I only mention it after committing a major social faux pas, in which case it might be seen as an excuse.

With ADD, this is an issue that happens when people explain things to me. I often don't parse things very well when they're communicated to me verbally since I do have attention lapses. That's the major issue, anyways.

With that said, I do (indirectly) imply that I have both diagnoses on my personal website.

  • 1
    Is your Asperger's diagnosed by a mental health professional? If so, they will have a good list of resources on how to address this and should be able to help you with a work/mental health management plan. – user20640 Dec 10 '14 at 23:58
18

I agree with aeismail's answer, however I would just add that you might need be careful about the perception of your condition(s), especially the negative aspects. For instance, with the ADD, it's better to ask people to send written copies because you have a visual memory, because it's a constructive remark, rather than saying that you don't fully understand verbal explanation. Myself, I ask people to send emails about important things, and I clearly state that it's due to my great visual memory and my terrible auditive memory.

In other words, I think it's a good idea to inform people that you have Asperger or ADD, especially those you work closely with, but it's more important to explain the positive aspects rather than just stating your condition.

  • 1
    In many jurisdictions you'd be required to inform your superiors, but accommodations can be made if your condition does not significantly impact your performance (especially in countries that are dead serious about providing equal opportunities). This won't be a basis for termination in any case -- the university administration would be crazy to do so for all the legal trouble they can get into. Performance is what matters. – mindcorrosive Mar 5 '12 at 8:02
11

This is a difficult situation. If you believe that you will be placed in situations where a someone in question will need to know that you have Asperger's, lest he or she misread your actions in that situation, then you should inform him or her before it becomes a problem. As you said, informing them afterwards can make it seem like an excuse.

However, if your diagnosis affects your "job" performance (academic or research or otherwise), then you should let them know as soon as possible. If there is the possibility to make appropriate accommodations for your condition(s), then you should have this entered into your official records, so that it's available in case it becomes necessary.

8

From personal experience, I would say not to tell unless your impairment is extreme enough to have required accommodations all throughout your schooling. I personally had always struggled at some things more than others and excelled in area that no one else could fathom and was considered a little 'quirky'. Because of some advice that I received, I did notify the university, as I had just been diagnosed with ADHD (at the age of 50) and just prior to turning in my final thesis, was told that I didn't belong in grad school. Unfortunately I was too humiliated to stand up for myself at the time and when I could, the statute of limitations (one year for discrimination) was over. There is still quite a stigma attached to both diagnoses unfortunately. The stigma won't be resolved with the secrecy but it depends on what your top priority is; challenging the stigma or graduating. Unfortunately, this was my reality and it tends to be rather ingrained in most of higher academia at this point, truth be told.

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    Wow... What field/university are you in? My impression is that some groups are more tolerant than other groups. Personally I found that atmospheric science at UWashington is very sympathetic, but this was not the experience I got in other departments. – InquilineKea Jul 1 '12 at 23:49
6

If you were a student in my class, I would recommend that you tell me as soon as possible. That way we could brainstorm effective workarounds for you before you possibly fall behind. I've had a number of students with some type of learning disability (I realize this isn't the same thing, but my response is similar). If you can get cleared with the university for extra time to take exams, I'm happy to provide that. For one student who had trouble concentrating on quizzes during class, I let her take them outside of class (beforehand). Many people will be happy to work with you, but they won't be able to unless you tell them about your condition and how they can help.

6

Many universities have offices dedicated to help people which might have learning and other kinds of difficulties, the office in University of Toronto is called "Accessibility Services". Their job is helping people who have such difficulties. I suggest that you check if your university has such an office and register with them.

Generally it is better to discuss this with them and let them inform the departments and instructors as needed. They can also provide advice to you and to the instructor and tell the instructor about the kind of special considerations they need to provide for you while keeping your personal information confidential as much as possible.

It also has the benefit that you don't need to explain it more than once, the office will do it for you.

It is also helpful for instructors. An instructor might not be knowledgeable about your difficulties and how he or she can help you. The office can tell your instructors what they have to do exactly to help you in their courses.

2

Depending what country you are in, they are often required to make accommodations by law, but that is only if they know about them.

That said, if it is 'just' social interactions that are the issue affecting you, then it is worth examining exactly what you hope to gain out of telling people, because it is more of a gray area in terms of your rights as far as I understand it, anyway.For example:

If you are always being expected to work in a group and you feel worried about this and want to work on your own, it might be worth it. However, if it is just a bit of understanding you want for when you say inappropriate things then you might also be disappointed by how ignorant educated people can actually be about these sorts of things... It depends on you though, some people are more bothered by what people think than others are!

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