Asperger Syndrome and a Military Career
March 24, 2010 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Have any of you had experience of being in the military with Asperger Syndrome?

I am nearing the end of my degree in pure mathematics. Along with holding dual citizenship, I have to do military service for one of the countries. I also have to think about what type of career I would like to pursue after I graduate. I am not sure of what other types of job would suit me. I would like to maybe go into mathematics research, but I am never too sure of my ability.

I have AS, although I am not as terribly affected as some others. Rather than looking at AS as some kind of indivisible symptom, I will say that I sometimes have trouble in group work, and that I certainly like a structured routine. I have considered working in the military before, and I am wondering whether it would suit me. Maybe having a structured job would be good. Maybe I wouldn't get along with certain other aspects.

I'm not looking for advice towards not working in the military. In any case, I will have to do military service. I would like to have some accounts of people with AS who have been in the military, or maybe of friends of such people. What kind of job did you do? What were your difficulties? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
posted by jpcooper to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what countries you carry dual citizenship with, but it may be that a medical diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome would get you a waiver from military service? I know you say that you're not looking for advice towards not working in the military, but they have entry restrictions for a reason. I can say that from my short experience in the military (if one calls the Coast Guard military) a person that has trouble with a group dynamic would not fair well.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 4:15 PM on March 24, 2010

Did you already google-search "Asperger Syndrome Military"? There are these threads (1 & 2 at this AS/Autism forum with people who seem ready and willing to discuss it.
posted by K.P. at 6:10 PM on March 24, 2010

I don't have personal experience, but my father and my ex-husband were both in the U.S. military, so I have 26 years of experience as a military dependent. And my ex-boyfriend, whom I lived with for 13 years, has AS. I tried to imagine how my ex-boyfriend would have fared in the miltary, and what I came up with is pretty much what you said. I think he would actually enjoy the structured routine, and probably even thrive in it. The downside is, there are a lot of divergent personalities in the military, and if you have problems with someone, you can't escape them by getting a new job, or transferring, etc. You're stuck with them for the duration of the assignment.

But then again, sometimes when people who would normally choose not to interact are forced to be together, they end up getting past their differences and come to appreciate them. Especially if they have a common enemy, like a drill sargeant. :) (Which sounds a lot like a cheesy, feel-good movie, but I've actually experienced it myself.)

You don't say what countries your dual citizenship is in, but in the U.S., I'd think you would do better in the Air Force or the Navy, rather than the Army or Marines. There's a different mind-set, and different levels of tolerance for bullying/hazing behavior. I'm not sure how it is in other countries, though.

Regardless of where you end up, if you have the typical Aspie issue of taking everything people say very literally, then you might find it helps to actually explain about that to people you're working with. I know that when I first found out about it, it made a huge difference in my relationship with my Aspie ex.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:27 AM on March 25, 2010

It has been a while since I asked this question, but thank you all for the replies. I had looked on Google for answers, but hadn't found all that I wanted to.
posted by jpcooper at 11:18 AM on April 6, 2010

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