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A little education and communication goes a long way

 
Christopher Hutton first joined GameStop not for a love of video games, but for a love of retail mathematics and studying how numbers reveal behaviors and trends.
 
Christopher was recently promoted to district leader for Dallas West.This meant changing his daily routine — a particular challenge, as he has Asperger’s, a high functioning form of autism. “The first few weeks were scary,” Christopher recalls. “I taught myself that my ‘routine’ every day is change. My job helps me grows me as a person, and I’m able to apply strengths.”
 
Since joining GameStop about seven years ago, Christopher has developed many coping mechanisms, especially around the more social parts of his job. One move he made that proved very helpful was deciding to be frank with his colleagues about how Aspergers affects him.  
 
“When you’re straightforward with your superiors about who you are, there are a lot of ‘aha’ moments for them,” Christopher says, recalling a conversation he had with Jason Cochran, senior vice president of stores, after he heard Jason talk about “being your whole self at work.” It was a conversation that let Christopher know others were listening, and was part of his motivation to move up to a district leader role.
 
“I joke with Frank [Ragan, regional vice president] that I only prepared 13 minutes of small talk today. You can hand me 20 million dollars in business and I have no problem running through the data and metrics looking for nuances. I stress out more about the car ride between stores, or interacting with other district leaders,” says Christopher.
 
Christopher has found many coping mechanisms over the years, including simply asking for advice when he’s not sure about something — things like how to dress for a certain occasion or how to pick an appropriate location for a lunch meeting. Another challenge Christopher has described to his colleagues is his desire to participate in group social activities but not knowing how to engage with it, so they’re always sure to include him and make sure he’s invited.
 
Christopher is also able to help his colleagues better understand and interact with GameStop customers who have autism. “We have a lot of people who come in and just want to talk about all these facts they memorized. I tell my staff that you interacting with them is a huge deal to them. I see their patience level go up when they realize that the customer is really happy to be here.”
 
“A little bit of education goes a long way to understanding others. The moment you start to identify with someone, you uncover things that can help you with your personal growth. You never know what you’ll say to someone that will change your perspective, or inspire them.”

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.