Only a few months ago I got another job, since I couldn't extend the previous one (not because of shortcomings from my side, fortunately). I am enjoying it quite a lot, but the environment and the structure of the assignments are completely different from what I had been used to in the workplace, so I am having a rather challenging time adapting to it. I thought I might use some extra help, so I looked for some books on how to cope with this. I went for "Asperger's Syndrome workplace survival guide" by Barbara Bissonnette, because it looked promising from the review and the sneak previews.

The book focuses on practical strategies on how to survive in typical corporate workplace settings - pretty much the kind of help I need. In each chapter, the book features one particular challenge, such as first impressions, communication, sensory issues, etc. Every chapter, in turn, has a paragraph for each "component" of the issue, which features both real-life examples (with some generalization, obviously) and very straightforward suggestion on how to cope with it. Recommendations are mostly laid out in bullet points for easy reading, and those of a more personal kind from the author appear in callout boxes called "NT tips". Some chapters have additional in-depth material in separate boxes (eg.: how to keep a proper email etiquette), as well as practice sheets that can also be downloaded from the publisher's website.

I found the scope of the book rather exhaustive, and actually I was surprised to recognise myself in quite a few of the descriptions and examples given (positive and negative), in behaviours that I hadn't really noticed before or thought to be connected with the Asperger's. The tone of the book is, thankfully, very matter-of-factual, and focuses on teaching how to adapt at best in a NT workplace culture, which is almost always the case. Realistically speaking, there is so much accommodation an employer can provide (whether or not the condition is disclosed), and every employee needs to integrate into the corporate culture in order to thrive within it, no matter how different her own personality is. The checklists and practice sheets provide a welcome help to put the contents of the book into practice. Despite the volume being relatively thin, it is dense with content and I think I will need to focus on one paragraph at a time in order to act upon the suggestions. As a side note, I liked that the author mentioned Specialisterne a couple of times, as example of Aspie-friendly workplace.

The cons of the book are minor. The first is that it is very US-centric, and we Europeans should take the cultural and legal side with some perspective, especially if not working in big or international firms (I don't think you can be fired "on the spot" on this side of the pond, unless you have done something really terrible). It mentions "cubicles" many times, although I have never seen a cubicle except in US movies. The second is that it focuses on big companies, which are highly structured and have established processes for performance monitoring, among other things. I don't really know how small companies deal with HR aspects, but for sure it's much less structured in their case, and an Aspie could do with some extra advice on how to monitor one's own performance.

Overall, I would recommend the book to Aspies woking (or going to do so) in corporate environment, and to the employers as well - perhaps looking first at the material linked above. I would very much like to read some Aspie opinion on the book in the comments!

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