I originally published this post internally for my colleagues at Monzo (hence the emoji). It seemed useful enough there that I figured it was worth publishing on my own site. I’ve very gently edited it to remove a couple of references that don’t mean much outside the company.
My name’s David. I started at Monzo a month ago.
I’m also autistic. I got a diagnosis last July – specifically, Asperger syndrome.
I find new situations and environments stressful, especially when I need to figure out what the rules and social conventions are, or when it’s otherwise hard to anticipate what’s going to happen. So starting a new job is pretty tough. Especially somewhere as fast-paced as Monzo. Especially when I’m still figuring out what my diagnosis means and questioning my models of the world.
I’ve told a few people here at Monzo, and the question most people have asked is:
What can I do to help?
What you can do to help
⏰ Give me time
I find surprises difficult to deal with. They put me off balance, and it takes time and space for me to recover. That surprise could be a sudden change of direction, a nasty surprise in the codebase, or some critical feedback I’m not expecting. If I’m feeling stressed, it could even be a loud noise.
I’m not saying you should avoid these – most of them are unavoidable, and critical feedback in particular is incredibly valuable – but be aware that I might need more time to process them than most people.
👨🏫 Give me clarity
I can’t always guess how someone is feeling, how the things I say will come across, or what someone expects of me. If you expect me to do something, let me know very clearly what it is. If I’ve said something you felt was rude, definitely let me know (but please give me plenty of time to process it: see above).
👀 Give me context
My brain works in rules and systems. It’s part of what makes me good at my job. It also means I struggle if I don’t understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, or how it fits in with the wider goals of the team or the company. The more context you can give me about the thing I’m doing, how it fits together, what the background is and why it’s important, the happier and more useful I’ll be.
🗣️ Take turns talking
This is a small thing, but it makes a huge difference to me. If there are multiple people talking at once, I’ll really struggle to follow what’s going on.
Do you have more questions? Have I said something that isn’t clear? I’d love to keep talking about this. For one thing, it helps me clarify my own understanding of my brain and how it compares to everyone else’s brain. Feel free to ask me anything.