People at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme computing do not have to tell us their labels. We do not ask. We ask questions about what they know about computers and what tools they have tried. And frequently people tell us whether we ask or not.
For example, one new staffperson really likes to sort things. If RantWoman knew enough about the markers of Asperger's to recognize them, there probably would be other such markers, but the one that came up in conversation has to do with eye contact. RantWoman knows more than one woman with Asperger's and the verdict is clear: eye contact is NO FUN, NOT a good thing for the people with Asperger's RantWoman knows.
RantWoman finds this trait an AMAZING gift. RantWoman has trouble keeping her eyes open, and they itch when open. RantWoman's brain thinks her eyes should focus better than they do. Then when RantWoman tries to keep her eyes open and tries to make her brain focus all that happens is sharpened awareness that RantWoman is missing a massive percentage of the visual non-verbal clues as to what those around her think and wish. RantWoman is also utterly failing to do the dance of pupil size that also reassures one's conversational counterpart of engagement.
But around people with Asperger's two things happen: one side of the conversation is not accosted by overwhelming eye contact and the other side of the conversation is liberated of any expectation that she provide eye contact. Both sides are SO much happier with this situation!
Can you say win / win for everyone?
Next the conversation meandered toward....SPORTS, another zone where RantWoman is severely challenged about even the barest minimum of social lubricant. "The WHO are playing the WHAT, WHERE?
For RantWoman's trouble in talking about eye contact, though, she was offered this fascinating display of Severe Sports Challenge SO MUCH worse, so much more halting and tentative than RantWoman's situation. RantWoman could only stare in this transfixing combination of awe and empathy--and then the conversation moved quickly to something we both care about more!