Tom Edwards remembers a former colleague in the aerospace industry who was a computer whiz – back in the days when computers took up entire rooms.
The man, a chief engineer, was incredibly talented, but he rarely made eye contact, kept strange hours and often arrived wearing clothes that did not match.
Years later, Edwards realized his colleague likely was on the autism spectrum. By then, he had a son with autism who struggled to launch a successful career.
“He always wanted to do a good job,” said Edwards, a Temple University engineering management professor who has led workshops on the benefits of hiring employees with neurodiverse conditions.
“It never quite worked out. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out. Eventually, it dawned on me – he’s not being supervised well.” more
It’s not unusual for people Asperger syndrome to be be depressed. Studies have varied somewhat, but generally the rate of depression of those with Asperger’s is over 3 times that of the normal population. Studies have suggested that 18% to 22% of those with AS have depression compared with 6.7% of the general population. The times of highest risk for depression are late adolescence and young adulthood.
Most of the research shows both genders have these high rates of depression. Non-autistic full siblings and half-siblings of individuals with ASD (not just Asperger syndrome) also had higher rates of depression than the general population, although at half the rate of those with ASD. Large studies haven’t supported genetics as an explanation for this increased rate of depression.
This tendency to depression is particularly true for those with higher intelligence and capacity for self-reflection who have awareness of their social difficulties. They often internalize their negative experiences and feelings of loneliness into their sense of self and their outlook for the future.
Studies of suicide attempts are also very troubling. In studies of suicide, the rate of suicidal thoughts and attempts are prevalent in those with AS, especially in adolescence and young adulthood. more