Genevieve Edmonds and Luke Beardon have assembled fifteen chapters from various individuals who have Asperger Syndrome (AS) or high functioning autism. Each author describes their experiences finding, keeping--and sometimes losing--jobs. Some accounts are supplemented by comments from an author's employer or family member. All give useful advice to fellow "aspies" and employers who may consider hiring them.
Some key issues were emphasized by more than one author. They include:
- In addition to challenges in social interaction, time management, and adapting to change, AS employees have strengths in candor, attention to detail and other areas that can make them excellent employees. - Consider carefully whether to disclose an AS diagnosis to your employer and peers. There are the advantages of support and greater understanding. But there can be social disadvantages as well. - An AS employee should not expect their coworkers to care too much about their condition. It is important to accept this, make the adaptations to work effectively, and appreciate the few people who will care and seek understanding. - AS job applicants may "look good on paper," but they often don't do well in the unpredictable social arena of the job interview. Preparation is key.
Each chapter is introduced by a helpful introduction. The authors describe their experiences clearly, using the language that is most comfortable for them. Their candor and insightfulness are both refreshing and instructive. I think the editors achieve their goal of providing an aspie view of work and of the challenges of obtaining and retaining employment. The book has a few weaknesses. It is less useful to readers from the United States because of its UK focus--there are different support services, employment laws, and so on. And much of its job hunting advice is the same as given to all employment-seekers. It is just provided in greater detail and with some of the assumptions spelled out--as is appropriate for the book's intended audience.
I recommend this book to AS job seekers, their family members, and to employers who would like to be better prepared to manage an AS employee.
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Retrospectively, adults with Asperger Syndrome have been through harder times than I would expect in the United Kingdom. I must say the adult Aspies in this book are a lot happier than before they were diagnosed, because they have found how to cope with both their pros and cons in order to get employed. I can see many of them have felt different and/or distant from other people not only at school but at work, which often causes frequent job changes, alienation, and other negative effects. Actually, I still have the same experiences and am between jobs right now. According to Professor Tony Attwood, one of the most famous specialists on AS, only 10% of adults with AS are diagnosed in Australia! How devastating! After all, Aspies need more support and understanding from other people. Recently more people have come to know developmental disabilities. But we must accept the fact that it will still take time to improve the situation to help developmentally challenged people.
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