By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Offices value not just skill but also “corporate fit” – someone who fits in. But what does an office do with a worker who has Asperger’s syndrome?
Bram Cohen often offends people with his blunt manner. He has Asperger’s syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum that doesn’t affect intellect but makes it difficult for him to navigate social situations.
Cohen is the creator of and boss at Bit Torrent, a multimillion dollar software package. Most Asperger’s sufferers are not so lucky to be their own bosses; and their bosses don’t know how to deal with someone who, though smart, doesn’t fit in. There are people who are simply dislikable and there’s no law protecting them, but others who don’t seem to fit in may actually suffer from Asperger’s syndrome, a recognized condition that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s what the Department of Labor calls a “hidden disability” because it’s not so easily recognizable, but for the fact that someone can’t quite fit in.
If you have the diagnosis, you can talk to HR about how to do what’s required despite the disability and visit AspergerSyndrome.org.
And employers who have a worker with Aspergers can consult with the Job Accommodation Network at 800-526-7234.
It would be a shame to miss out on a talent like Bram Cohen’s simply because his social skill set is different from others.