Opposing sides of the discussion offer differing interpretations of illustrated example.

In many jobs in Japan, the ending time of your shift is really more of a loose idea of when you’ll leave the office. So even though most members of the workforce would love to slide out of work like Fred Flintstone as soon as the clock strikes five, they regularly conform to the societal expectation of putting in some overtime before punching out for the day.

Refusing to do overtime can get you saddled with a stigma as lazy or immature. But Twitter user @tetefu_brar stumbled across what he feels is an even more startling interpretation in a book he was reading, in which a man who has Asperger’s syndrome is shown insisting that he’s going home precisely at the designated quitting time.

While reading a book about Asperger’s syndrome, @tetefu_brar came across the following illustrated exchange, in which the man with spiky black hair can be seen gathering his belongings and saying “Ah, it’s five o’clock.”

“What? You’re going home?” asks his incredulous female colleague. “You’re not going to help us, even though this assignment has to be finished tonight?” questions his bespectacled officemate. “You’re going to go home at the same time as always?” At the far left of the table, his remaining coworker, sweating nervously, can’t bring himself to verbalize his reaction and silently thinks “Let’s all pitch in.”

But Mr. Spiky Hair isn’t having any of it. “My shift is from nine to five, isn’t it? I’ve finished my share, so I’m done with work. The rest of you are just slow, right?”

@tetefu_brar was shocked by the comic, tweeting “Whoa, hold up. This is from this book I’m reading about Asperger’s. So if you don’t do overtime, that means you’ve got Asperger’s?” Other Twitter users also chimed in with criticisms of the explanatory comic.

“Not being able to finish by the normal quitting time is proof of a lack of ability. There’s nothing wrong with going home on time.”

“The three coworkers on the left probably have ADHD. Or maybe learning disabilities.”

However, others pointed out that @tetefu_brar may not be interpreting the book’s message correctly. Specifically, some argued that the book isn’t saying that a person who does this has Asperger’s, but that a person who has Asperger’s is more likely than others to exhibit this sort of behavior.

“I don’t think it’s saying the manifestation of his Asperger’s is that he won’t do overtime, but that even when there’s an urgent project to be done, he doesn’t think to help anyone else and just leaves like it’s no big deal.”

“He doesn’t offer even the tiniest apology and is already brusquely dashing off, which makes me think he’s probably got some sort of communication disorder.”

Adding some weight to those interpretations are the Asperger’s symptoms identified by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the U.K. National Autistic Society, which include:
● Repetitive behaviors and/or not wanting any change in daily routines
● Being upset by a slight change in a routine
● Difficulty using or understanding facial expressions or tone of voice
● Not seeking comfort from other people
● Difficulty recognizing others’ feelings

Nevertheless, some took issue with the choice of example in which the character with Asperger’s is shown exhibiting less work ethic and team spirit than his coworkers.

“It may be an attempt to show how people with Asperger’s can’t grasp social atmosphere or other people’s mentalities, but I still think this is a bad example.”

And finally, one commenter was bothered by something completely different in the comic.

“I’m also curious about what qualifies as Asperger’s, but I’m also wondering what happened to the older guy’s eyeglasses between the first and second panel.”

Maybe the comic is also trying to show the effects of dementia, or possibly kleptomania.

Sources: Jin, National Institute of Mental Health, The National Autistic Society
Top image: Pakutaso