Living with Autism as a Developer cover image

Living with Autism as a Developer

Oliver Sarfas • April 26, 2023

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What is Autism?

Autism UK defines autism as:

...a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. More than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK...

However, as more research is done and awareness of the spectral condition is raised - this definition changes and we understand more about those affected.

Those with ASD will have their own experiences of the condition, and it can be difficult to generalise. However, there are some common traits that are often associated with ASD. These include:

Personal Discovery of ASD

I first had an inkling that I might be on the spectrum when my son was diagnosed with ASD at the age of 3. He's a non-verbal ASD child with a lot of sensory and behavioural issues.

I'd already been doing a lot of research into the condition due to Elliot, thus I was aware of the traits and behaviours associated with ASD. I'd also been aware of my own difficulties with social interaction and communication, and I'd been masking for years; entirely without my knowledge / active consideration.

There had been times in my history (often at work, during meetings, or during social engagements) where colleagues had mentioned that I said something that sounded very direct, or even rude. I'd always been confused by this, as I'd never intended to be rude or direct. I'd always been very careful to be polite and considerate, and I'd always been very aware of the social norms and expectations of the situation. To the point where I consider myself to have a few unwritten rules that I abide to when interacting with people.

This ruleset wasn't something I was really aware of until I was looking into ASD for my son. It turns out that the term for this ruleset was masking and I've been doing it for years. Doing it so well that I'd fooled myself into thinking that I was "normal" and that everyone around me had this same solution to social and interpersonal situations.

I began opening up conversation with others around my life, and how they'd noticed this before but never mentioned it because "that's just how you are, it's you". Further conversation with a few of the medical and psychological professionals that I'd been working with for my son, and I was confirmed to had ASD.

Impact on Daily Work and Life

Due to the fact I've lived with my ASD for over 30 years now (though subconsciously), there's a lot of things that I hadn't realised I do to integrate into society, work, and general life.

A few that are often mentioned to me are;

There are a few other little things that I do but they're not as impactful nor need as much consideration as the above.

Most / all of the above are done without thought or intention either, it's just a habit that I've either learned through my years or a symptom of my ASD.

Awareness and Learning

There's been a lot more work done recently to raise awareness of ASD, it's impacts on those with it and the family / support network(s) around them. This is all great stuff, and I welcome it wholeheartedly.

My sister recently ran the London Marathon for the National Autistic Society and raised over £1,200 for the charity. You can donate to her page (here)[].

If you'd like to discuss ASD, or have any questions about it, please feel free to reach out to me on using the contact page

Questions? Want to talk? Here are all my social channels