Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Nonverbal Learning Disability: Stories and Strategies

Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Nonverbal Learning Disability: Stories and Strategies by Yvona Fast
London and New York: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2004

Most people with Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NLD) or Asperger Syndrome (AS) are underemployed. This book sets out to change this.

With practical and technical advice on everything from job hunting to interview techniques, from fitting in in the workplace to whether or not to disclose a diagnosis, this book guides people with NLD or AS successfully through the employment field.

There is also information for employers, agencies and careers counselors on AS and NLD as invisible disabilities, including an analysis of the typical strengths of somebody with NLD or AS, and how to use these positively in the workplace.

Practical information and lists of career resources are supported by numerous case studies to inspire and advise. An essential resource for people with NLD or AS seeking or in employment and their existing or potential employers.

For more information see Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Book Reviews

“Yvona Fast’s book provides a marvellous insight into some of the practical issues surrounding employment issues for people with AS. … I enjoyed this book. {It}provided the most relevant insight for me in relation to the workplace.

Though it goes over much familiar ground in great detail, it is the snippets of specific pertinent advice and associated techniques and suggestions that make it invaluable.

For someone with AS it could well be a reference guide.”

To read the entire review:

http://www.aspergermanagement.com/employment-individual-s-asperger-syndrome-non-learning-disability

Book Review by Rick Chefitz in AANE News

AANE News, Issue 15—Fall 2004


Having both Asperger’s and NLD myself, I knew that this was a book I had to read—and I was not disappointed! In this groundbreaking book, Yvona Fast discusses all the issues that are necessities to succeed in the workplace: social skills, processing speed, organization, seeing the big picture, dealing with change, visual-spatial abilities, and ability to follow directions and instructions.

Unfortunately, those are often the very areas that those with AS and NLD are weak at. As a result, it is possible for those with AS/NLD to earn a college, masters, or even a doctoral degree—and yet be unable to hold down an entry-level job.

The great thing about this book is its multiple perspectives. Yvona Fast has been unofficially diagnosed with NLD. However, she also interviews several other people with AS/NLD for the book, as well vocational specialists and employers. Many stories of successes and failures in the workplace (some written by the individuals themselves) appear in a section called “Career Voices.”

The stories illuminate the specific ways that how AS and/or NLD have affected the narrators careers, in a way that other books on these disorders have been unable to do. One of the “Career Voice” is that of AANE Board President Stephen Shore, heard here in an excerpt from his book Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

There are a few chapters on career planning. I wish I had read those chapters 10 years ago! Then maybe I would not have just dived into the first job I could get! The chapter on “Transitioning from School to Work” is especially valuable for college students; it gives them a chance to prevent job-related problems head-on by planning for their future before they even graduate from college. The biggest message I got from the chapter is that in school, the student is the customer, but in the workplace, the employer is the customer. This is why so many of us with AS and NLD (along with many neurotypicals) have trouble making that transition.

There are several chapters on maintaining a career. For example, “Your First Hundred Days” includes tips on fitting in and getting off to a good start. Other chapters address major hurdles like the social and communication problems those with AS and NLD face, workplace bullying (bullying does not end in childhood), and an important discussion on disclosure, a minefield for those with AS and NLD.

Finally, there is a chapter on vocational rehab programs. On the surface, these programs would be a good fit for the AS and NLD individual. After all, this population is intelligent, is physically able (in most cases), and is motivated to succeed. In fact however, these programs for the most part have failed AS/NLD individuals—and Fast explains why. She also includes tips in how to deal with the agencies that administer these programs—including how to educate them on AS/NLD without sounding like a know-it-all.

If there is a weakness in the book, it is that Fast does not discuss the job hunting process in enough depth or detail. I do think Fast’s suggestion to develop a portfolio is noteworthy, and there are a good number of interviewing tips. However, there is very little discussion on resume writing and on actually finding job leads. Then again, those with AS/NLD have to job hunt in way that is different from the ways that neurotypicals do. Perhaps the information I was looking for in this book is probably not yet available.

As for me, the book gave me a lot of information on why I have had problems in the workplace. I now realize that special education is not just for school—it is needed at work as well! The “AS Voices” and “NLD Voices” showed me that I am indeed not alone in my struggles. The chapter on vocational rehab was especially helpful as I now realize why those programs were of only limited help to me. Hopefully, I will become a successful “AS and NLD Voice” for others to follow!

Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-Verbal Learning Disability is the best book I have read on AS/NLD and career issues. I also highly recommend it for the parents and other family members of people with AS/NLD, educators, vocational rehabilitation personnel, mental health professionals, employers, and even the general public. It is essential that more people learn about AS and NLD, and on how both disorders affect employment. Hopefully in the future, the prognosis for those with Asperger’s Syndrome and Nonverbal Learning Disorder in the workplace will be more positive. This book is the first step on that journey.

Rick Chefitz is a 32 year-old man who was diagnosed with AS and NLD in 2000. He writes:”I have had difficulties finding my niche with employment as I have gone from job to job since graduating from college in 1995. After being mostly unemployed since losing my last permanent position in August of 2002 as an accounts payable specialist for a major financial firm, I started working as a file clerk for a local hospital. Though it is only a temporary position and is below my skill level, I am hoping to use the experience as a foundation for future career success.”


Testimonials


In spite of the high intelligence of many people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NLD), it is difficult for many adults to obtain and retain employment. It is estimated that at least 90% of adults diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome are un- or under-employed in comparison with their abilities.

This book is intended to improve the odds of obtaining and retaining a a satisfying career, a significant component living independently and with a higher quality of life.

Written in large part and edited by Yvona Fast, a woman diagnosed with NLD, this excellent resource provides tons of practical advice for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome or NLD and their employers. It includes strategies for how to get hired and maintain a job, common problems, and how employers can make adaptations within the workplace.

It also includes inspiring stories and cautionary tales of the work place written by adults diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and NLD, including a chapter about Survival in the Workplace by Steven Shore, author of the autism spectrum autobiography, Beyond the Wall.


I’m just wanting to comment on Yvona Fast’s excellent book Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-Verbal Learning Disability. After finally getting this book a little over a week ago from amazon (it was on order since December), I have been unable to put it down.

It is positively the most inspirational and informative book that I have read on the topic. Congratulations Yvona and all of you who contributed to this wonderful book.

The real life stories and the gold mine of information makes this a must read for everyone who is interested in the subject of NLD. I intend to share this book with educators and others who can help champion the cause of advocacy for children and adults with NLD.


Well, I finally got my copy of Yvona’s book. I ordered it from Barnes and Noble a week before last; it arrived a few days ago, and I picked it up today.

So far, I’ve read the first 9 chapters, which consist of the stories of 9 NLDers, including Yvona herself (Chapter 6) and Debbie (Chapter 9).

Yvona, I just wanted to say that I like what I’ve read so far! If the rest of it is anything like what I’ve covered in the 1st 9 chapters, you’ve written a book every employer, Voc-Rehab counselor, and NDLer himself should own a copy of.

I finished the book, Yvona. It was well-written, and it covered all bases nicely. I definitely think yours is a book that needs to be read! Thanks for writing it.

Kathy Green


I picked up your book about employment for people with NLD. I read a little of it today and I enjoyed reading of other people’s experiences with employment. It looks to be a good resource book.

…I’ve read some more of your book and was absolutely delighted. I particularly liked one of the chapters in which one of the people sharing their experiences defined success not in terms of money, career, or being married or having children.

I agree that the connections we make with one another and striving to make a difference in the lives of others around us, are, ultimately, far more important. After all, in the end will it really matter what kind of car someone drove, what kind of clothes they wore, what neighborhood they lived in, etc.?

I saw on a website that you are working on another book. Is that going to be a book about the differences between AS and NLD? I believe I read an excerpt from it.

Lia

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