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Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to tell you about myself and my work as auticon consultant. auticon only employs consultants who are on the autism spectrum. Most of them have Asperger syndrome.
But what makes adults with Asperger syndrome so unique?
I feel qualified to answer that, because I am one of them. But since the symptoms and coping mechanisms are very different in each individual, I can speak only for myself.
What is the fundamental difference between a non-autistic person and myself?
The perhaps most obvious thing is that I find it really difficult to interpret facial expressions or body language, and I sometimes can’t tell what emotions other people are displaying.
I cannot read emotions in facial expression, gestures or in the tone of voice as well as other people can. As you can imagine, this can make it very awkward to talk to people and it also makes it very difficult to build personal connections. It takes decades to build a friendship.
In occupational contexts, it is really difficult for me to remember the face, the role and the name of a colleague. In most cases I am happy to get 2 out of 3. That’s not an ideal starting point for small talk.
It is also nearly impossible for me to lie.
On the one hand a good lie requires constant observation of the opponent: Does he believe it, how can I make him believe it? A skill I do not possess.
On the other hand, a lie is a distortion of reality and I couldn’t handle this distortion gracefully. My mind would scream: But it isn’t the truth!
As you see, interaction with people is very difficult for me. I have to analyse every remark facial expression and gesture, assess them in the context and rely on learned patterns of behaviour in order to mimic a small talk.
However: Being autistic also equips me with exceptional skills, that most non-autistic persons don’t have!
One of those skills is that I see patterns: in behaviours and language, in pictures and movies, in history and current politics, in technical connections and functions, in data and programs.
These patterns are connected to each other and they form trees: trees of possibilities, of probabilities, of functional dependencies, of interference and interdependence.
This ability is often extremely helpful, because it enables me to predict how people might behave, even when I don’t understand why they behave that way.
As you can Imagine, it is even more helpful in a technical context. I can see connections other people cannot see.
I don't need to look for flaws or mistakes in a drawing, text or a program: errors flag up immediately whether I like it or not - sometimes they even cause me physical discomfort or pain.
How did I become an auticon consultant?
I studied informatics and civil engineering on a postgraduate level.
I worked as computer programmer and civil engineer.
After a day at work my wife would explain to me why people behaved the way they did, what their motivations were and how I could interact with them.
As my children were born, I saw them develop from biological machines to admirable people with needs, feelings, hopes and goals.
My wife and my children were the first people I could see as individuals and understand their behaviour.
So I slowly gained some of the understanding that other people are born with or effortlessly develop during childhood.
In my 30s/40s? I founded a civil engineering planning and expertise company with a long-time friend as my business partner.
After I had proven my knowledge and experience I was appointed and sworn in as an official public expert.
I had to vow to not let personal feelings influence my expert opinion and advice. Well, that part was easy!
Do you see the pattern here? Every Job I did focused on technicalities, not on interpersonal skills.
The face of the company and the contact person to clients was always my friend.
But when he became too ill to continue to work, I had to take on his tasks, which put a very heavy burden on my shoulders. I was not able to cope with that for very long.
After a break down due to this overload, I had to switch gears and find a job, where I wouldn’t have to worry about being autistic and where I could focus on the work I love and am very good at.
It was the same time auticon was founded. The rest is history.
Over the past 3 years at auticon I have worked on a range of complex but interesting client projects. The feedback clients gave me was always extremely positive and encouraging. They appreciate that
- I have a different view to solve problems than most people
- I have a quick understanding of dependencies, interferences and interdependences
- My opinion and advice is always entirely unbiased
- I focus on the task at hand
- I am inherently honesty and truthful
- and of course my experience in 35 years of work as engineer and software developer
Thank you for your attention.
ery awkward to talk to people and it also makes it very difficult to build personal connections. It takes decades to build a friendship.