Book by Barbara Bissonnette
Review by Ryan Tomasiewicz
Campus Center for Advising and Academic Services
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In recent years, I have observed an increase in the number of students who are likely on the autism spectrum. As an academic advisor, I felt a certain level of apprehension working with students with Asperger’s Syndrome due to my own lack of experience and an educational system that is often not fully prepared to support students with Asperger’s. Bissonnette’s guide is a solid resource to assist advisors and career counselors when mentoring students with Asperger’s through a job search process.  Much of the guide’s information could also be adapted by advisors to support students throughout the academic major exploration process. In essence, this guide was written directly for the student consumer, but can also be a helpful resource for advisors new to working with student’s with Asperger’s Syndrome. For example:

In order to find a job, you need to communicate your abilities in a way that neurotypicals understand. In many ways, conducting a job search is like adapting to a foreign culture. In order to fit in, you need to understand the rules and expectations (p.12).

Bissonnette’s guide covers the job search fundamentals from researching companies and organizations to finding open positions through to the interview process. To most career advisors, this foundational information may seem common place; most campus offices have handouts and presentations that cover the job search basics addressed in this book. However, Bissonette provides the reader with Asperger’s Syndrome specific steps and tips relevant to overcome challenges throughout the job search. At the end of most chapters, there are useful checklists and templates to help guide the reader during a job search process.

For most students entering the workforce, the job search process can be daunting and overwhelming.  For students with Asperger’s Syndrome, many of these anxieties can be amplified. Reflecting upon my own academic advising experiences, I often advise students to begin to develop their professional networks and job search skills by attending a campus job fair. However, this is not an easy task for a student with Asperger’s. Bissonette’s guide serves as a great introduction to understand how to augment my advising approach to incorporate career search strategies for students on the autism spectrum. I can appreciate the years of experience Bissonette has as a career coach and the insights she provides. As an advisor, I particularly enjoyed the section on disclosure and accommodations.

I would recommend that academic advisors read this book if they have limited experience or training working with students with Asperger’s. The complete guide is an easy and quick read providing useful information. I would not recommend this guide to advisors who have more advanced training working with Asperger’s. This book is an elementary guide and is intended to be read by the job seeker. With that in mind, this book may make a strong addition to your office or institutional libraries to directly aid students with Asperger’s. I will be donating my guide to our campus career center where I think it will be utilized most effectively by staff and students alike.

The complete guide to getting a job for people with Asperger’s Syndrome: Find the right career and get hired. (2013). Book by Barbara Bissonnette. Review by Ryan Tomasiewicz. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 200 pp. Price $22.95. ISBN# 978-0-1084905-921-3

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