3
$\begingroup$

A full-time job usually involves a very large time commitment to a very narrow interest. Both "blue" and "white" collar workers spend 40+ hours a week performing specific sets of tasks. Labor is highly specialized, and people are expected to devote large amounts mental energy following through with the rules and details of their assigned projects.

This DSM5 excerpt summarizes autism as two general traits: social deficiency and restricted sets of interest. The former of course a significant problem while on the clock, but the latter seems to be a mixed bag.

Hyper-reactivity to sensory stimuli can cause issues, if present. However, "excessive adherence to routines" and "perseverative interests" are the bread and butter of most full-time jobs. If anything, "neurotypicals" should struggle to maintain such a laser focus. Given how we organized most of our economy and society around full-time employment, why would "restricted interests" be considered "symptoms" of autism?

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ “This DSM5 excerpt summarizes autism as two general traits: social deficiency and restricted sets of interest. The former of course a significant problem while on the clock…” If you’re a till jockey or some other public-facing job, maybe, but I don’t see how a high degree of inter-personal skills would help you if you’re expected to simply sit in your cubicle and get on with your work. $\endgroup$ Aug 22, 2023 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ @NaughtyAutie: most jobs have meetings and some degree of office politics. Not to mention fairly complex communication. Autistic people can have an "anti-charisma" which (unfairly) repels people. $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2023 at 0:46

1 Answer 1

2
$\begingroup$

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder and its associated body of psychological research is heavily centered around childhood behaviors. The DSM-5's criteria will also reflect this deference to developmental symptoms and thus doesn't focus on observable differences in the workplace or other adult environments. It's also important to remember that the term "symptom" isn't a value judgement in the context of the DSM: whether a symptom helps or hinders an affected individual varies on a case-by-case basis, and a "symptom" is just an observable difference that can be used for diagnosis.

As far as the nature of "restricted and repetitive behaviors" being beneficial in the workplace, these symptoms are described by an article on VeryWellHealth as often "purposeless and obsessive, highly selective, and unwavering." Once again, this is primarily described with relation to children, but the inability to direct such intense focus doesn't necessarily translate well to being harnessed for a workplace environment (though employing them for such benefit is commendable).

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.