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Learning to live with Asperger and ADHDPosted Date: 04/28/2018
By: Anne Loveless
There I am – during the 2017 Arkansas Human Services Employee Association banquet – standing at the head of the Little Rock Embassy Suites conference hall.
I’m at the center of attention as I take a photo with a high-ranking Department of Human Services (DHS) official. All the while, I’m holding a light blue plaque that celebrates my 25 years of employment with the state of Arkansas. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. It’s a situation I’m extremely humbled by.
My name is Anne Loveless. I’m a web designer for the agency.
I help coordinate our main website and DHS Share, an on-line filing, storage system for all kinds of documents from our divisions and offices. I’m also responsible for assisting staff who’s having issues with the website or DHS share.
Another one of my responsibilities is to make sure that the main website is right and the agency is represented correctly. None of us want an issue caused by incorrect information on our website or in DHS Share.
I take my job seriously. I love my job. I love working with the computer and assisting people with their issues.
I call this my dream job because working on computer programs is what I love. When I was in high school I learned about circuit board programming. Later, I realized that it was just a form of computer programming. Meanwhile, I also loved math. Put it all together and that’s where my fascination with computer programs began.
So my job for DHS is easy. But dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Asperger’s Syndrome, presents challenges.
It’s difficult for people who have ADHD to pay attention to any one thing for an extended period of time. And a person with Asperger sometimes struggles during social interactions. We can be too aggressive, candid, or inquisitive during a conversation and not realize that we’re making the person we are talking to uncomfortable or angry. So, you can imagine how working for an agency as big as DHS, that my conditions can cause problems. In fact, I typically use e-mail to correspond with other staff members. I do that to make sure I use the proper words and clearly explain something.
However, I still prefer to talk. I can save a lot of time by actually talking to a person as I figure out what their website issue is. But I understand that it’s typically in my best interest to use e-mail.
When I think about my Asperger, it’s strange how I got diagnosed shortly after my son received his diagnosis for Asperger. Together we’ve gone to therapy and counseling sessions to help us deal with our Asperger. And I’ve worked hard on not being disruptive. That’s a problem I struggled with. Once I found out what was going on, it explained why I think and act as I do.
Counseling sessions helped me deal with my situation. But many other people use the internet to learn about Asperger and ways to handle it, just as a lot of people go to the DHS website to learn about the services we offer. When I’m working on our website I never forget that people don’t think the same way. So when we create our website, we need to create different ways for people to find the information they need. I enjoy helping the people of Arkansas - just as so many individuals have helped me develop.
Asperger is a label, a name, but it’s much better than what I was sometimes called as a kid.
During my childhood, staying by myself is how I coped with who I was. I had some low points, frustrating moments as a child. But I also enjoyed several good times.
Eventually, I graduated from Mountain Home High School. And in 1979 I earned a bachelor’s from Arkansas Tech where I met my husband and mother-in-law. She was an ATU employee while my husband and I were students. For that reason, Tech holds a special place in my heart.
If I were to give another person advice on how to succeed despite having Asperger or ADHD, I’d say don’t let anyone make you think you’re less of a person than anybody else. Everyone has habits that aren’t proper, professional, or socially acceptable. So you too are capable of doing well and enjoying a great career.
Pondering over the progress I’ve made, and how I’m lucky to work with amazing people, that’s why the banquet and receiving public recognition is such a special moment.
I view it as a badge of honor. Being with DHS 25 years is an accomplishment attained by other co-workers whom I respect.
To consider that I’m now in the same category as some of those amazing people, it’s a reminder of how far I’ve come. Most of all, it’s a reminder of why it’s important that I refused to let a medical diagnosis define who I am or my capabilities.