"...many of us have experienced that feeling of fear and frustration; when you're abroad and lost, and it seems no-one understands... But then there's that surge of relief and hope when you see that flicker of recognition, or hear familiar words, no matter how quiet or poorly spoken..."

The Different Engine?

We felt it was important to have a memorable and pertinent name for our charitable organisation, and we arrived at "The Different Engine" in an extremely short time:  There was a suggestion, some discussion, an explanation, a modification and unanimous agreement.  This seems to be the way much of our decision making goes, which is very heartening, considering our organisation was born out of a shared frustration at an inability to communicate...


The first of the Victorian Mathematician Charles Babbage's Difference Engines was designed in the 1830s and was an astonishing concept but, for many, varied reasons, a working version was never completed.  This was purely a calculating machine.  He designed a second machine that was a true analytical engine but again, difficulties plagued the project and it was never built.  (A version was built in 2002 to Babbage's original design which worked perfectly.) Many Aspies can relate to the idea of enormous potential going unrealised.  A rather large proportion of the trustees are either engineers, or from an engineering background, so we were familiar with Babbage's projects and his struggles, and our main concern is 'Difference' so the name seemed appropriate.

The 'Difference Engine' is also the title of an alternative history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It is widely regarded as a book that helped establish the genre of steampunk, and is based on Babbage's life and work.  Many Aspies can relate to the wish to rewrite their past with a more hopeful future, or simply to escape into an alternative world.

We altered our name to 'The Different Engine' for a number of reasons, not least because of our love of word play...   We see ourselves as an engine for change.  We want to drive a fundamental change in the way people approach neurodiversity with a particular focus on Asperger's.  We believe our 'experiential' approach is key - exploration and understanding of our difference from both perspectives is where the answers lie.  TA is a powerful tool in anyone's toolbox, but for for Asperger's/NT dialogue it appears to work in ways that no-one could have predicted.