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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review: Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism by Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy


Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismDeveloping Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism by Temple Grandin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For my day job, I help people with disabilities maintain jobs in the community. Some of my co-workers, meanwhile, match people to jobs and try to get them those jobs. We serve a few people with an autism diagnosis, so I thought this might help as a resource. It contains a lot of perspectives I hadn't considered before, and is absolutely packed with vocational information, for such a short book.

Temple Grandin is best known for her autism diagnosis, either because you've seen her HBO-produced movie where she's played by Claire Danes, or because you've read about her in Oliver Sacks' Anthropologist on Mars. She's also a brilliant woman, and has served as something of a translator between the neurotypical and autistic brain.

This book is mostly addressed toward those with mild autism: questions to ask oneself about learning style, talents, and things to start thinking about. The book is divided into short sections about preparing oneself for the working world in various ways, and pointing out factors many neurotypicals take for granted. People with intellectual disabilities aren't prepped for a career the way neurotypicals are, or at least they weren't when Grandin was writing the book a decade ago.

The final section includes details about various professions, including the training and skills needed, how to prepare, and accommodations that may be necessary. Each career is explained through a person who works in that field. I was rather surprised to find that I knew one of the people discussed in that section, and not through my job, but from childhood.

This book seems like it might be useful, especially for kids with a mild autism diagnosis who are in middle school or just entering high school, or for their parents. It raises a lot of good questions to think about when preparing for the wider world, and anyone equipped with this information early on would have a greater shot at success. It discusses a lot of factors I've seen in my capacity as job coach, but it also brings up a lot of things I hadn't thought of. I was glad I read it.


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