The perfect job – book extract

As you might already know, we’re marking Autism Awareness Month throughout April by sharing a series of blog posts on books by, for, and about autistic adults. Featuring personal stories from those with Asperger’s Syndrome, Sarah Hendrickx’s book, Asperger Syndrome & Employment highlights successful scenarios and provides suggestions for employers and those in search of work. This extract looks at key criteria which can be helpful to think about. 

Is there any such thing as the perfect job? Or is this an oxymoron? A suitable job is one which allows best use of specific skills and minimises the areas of weakness. Lone working, excellent factual memory, logical analysis and problem-solving are likely strengths for someone with AS. Jobs which have been suggested to be more suitable for those with AS include:

  • aspergerpostman – lone working, lack of pressure, involves exercise
  • gardener – lone working, lack of pressure, physical work (can be relaxing)
  • IT technician – lone working, technical precision required, problem solving
  • software engineer – problem solving, working to precise specifications
  • photographer – creative, lone working, using technical skills
  • researcher – analytical, focused, detail-driven
  • accountant – proficiency with numbers, accuracy
  • librarian – system focused, excellent factual memory
  • piano tuner – perfect pitch, lack of pressure, lone working, specialist interest

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How to Cope Productively with the Effects of Unemployment and Jobhunt with Confidence- book extract

Thanks for joining us for week two of sharing content from a selection of our rich resources for autistic adults. Last week we featured The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum and Autism Spectrum Disorder in Mid and Later Life. This week’s extract is from Unemployed on the Autism Spectrum: How to Cope Productively with the Effects of Unemployment and Jobhunt with Confidence by Michael John Carley.

Addressing the high rate of unemployment among people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this vital guide offers advice on how you can overcome negative emotions, maintain your confidence and process unemployment in an emotionally healthy way.

“‘Lying?’ Now, why is a discussion about ‘lying’ an appropriate segue into a chapter on securing employment? Because it’s a concept, a sensation, and an interpretation that seems to plague our spectrum world’s potential for employment.

So much of what is essential to finding and keeping a job revolves around behaviors we refer to as ‘professional.’ There’s professional appearance (good clothes, hygiene, etc.), professional attitude (staying positive even when you don’t want to), and professional behavior (the unwritten rules about what’s expected from us as we relate to one another in the workplace). All of these scripts are adaptive—for no one’s born that way. These are tricks that the majority of the business world demands from those who choose to inhabit it.

To a higher percentage of neurotypicals this resonates as ‘no big deal,’ because they pick up this behavioral code a lot more instinctively than we do, and because they don’t initially see as much harm in adapting. But to us, so-called professional behavior can often feel like lying. It’s not who we really are and this bothers us more…”

To read the full chapter, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about this book visit our WEBSITE, or browse a selection of our books written for autistic adults HERE.

Read an extract from Luke Jackson’s brilliant new book Sex, Drugs & Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD): A User Guide to Adulthood

luke jackson

14 years after the publication of his bestselling book Freaks, Geeks & Asperger Syndrome, Luke Jackson is back with the sequel, Sex, Drugs & Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD): A User Guide to Adulthood and you can read an extract from the book only on the JKP blog.
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Browse our latest collection of new and bestselling titles in counselling and psychotherapy

Here are our new and bestselling titles in counselling and psychotherapy. For more information on any of the books inside, simply click the title or cover image to view the full book page.

My wonderful world of work

Jeanette Purkis author of new title The Wonderful World of Work discusses her own experiences of employment and why she feels its important to help teens and young adults build up their self confidence before entering the workplace.

BioPic 21 Jeanette PurkisMy own career journey offers a good insight into why I’ve written a book about employment for teenagers on the Autism spectrum and how it will be useful. 

I have a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and I’m employed in a full-time, responsible job with the Australian Public Service. My job is unimaginably wonderful: I have great managers, colleagues who I like and respect, I am valued for my unique thinking style and experiences and the work I do is interesting. The pay and conditions are fantastic too. It’s almost like I died and went to work heaven. Naturally, I would love for all people on the Autism spectrum to be as fortunate as I have been in finding such a great job.

My work life hasn’t always been so good. When I left home at the tender age of 17, the only job I could find was in a fast food restaurant. The work was unpleasant and the only benefit I gained from the job was the small wage it paid.

I also spent many years either unemployed or doing jobs which were similar to my first: low-paid, low-skilled and onerous. I was too anxious to do any at all job for many years, but I never gave up. When I was 25, I decided that I was going to gain an education and get a professional job. I enrolled in a university course and set about improving my skills. I gained a Bachelor, then an Honours and finally a Masters degree. I started a small business and worked as a volunteer receptionist in a gallery. Somewhere in all of that I wrote an autobiography, which was published. My confidence in my abilities and my value as a potential employee just kept on growing.

In the last semester of my Masters degree I applied for a number of graduate jobs in the public service. I saw these advertised and thought to myself ‘I could do that.’ After an exhaustive selection process I was offered a graduate job in a big Government department in Australia’s capital, Canberra. I was anxious about moving to a new city where I did not know one single person and starting a job which was unlike anything I’d ever done. Despite my concerns, the job in Canberra was an overwhelmingly positive thing. It was my ticket out of poverty and it meant that I would be using that incredible Aspie brain of mine to its full capacity.

I loved my public service job as soon as I started it. The hierarchy and structure made sense to me and the work was engaging and challenging. Seven years later and I”m still in the Australian Public Service. And I still love it. I’ve now been an adult and part of the workforce (on and off) for 22 years. I’ve learned a lot about how I can use my unique Aspie skills and attributes to my advantage in the world of work.

Purkis_Wonderful-World_978-1-84905-499-7_colourjpg-webI wrote ‘The Wonderful World of Work’ to give young people on the Autism spectrum the benefit of all my knowledge and wisdom about the world of employment. A book like this would have been immensely helpful when I was transitioning from school into the workforce. I firmly believe that everyone has the right to a rewarding and engaging job and that people on the Autism spectrum have qualities that can make us exemplary employees.   

Jeanette Purkis is the author of The Wonderful World of Work. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in March 2014.

Asperger’s on the Job!

One of the major stressors affecting young adults on the autism spectrum is finding and keeping a job. In this post Been There. Done That. Try This! mentor Anita Lesko gives her top tips on how to get the process started and make a good impression at initial interviews. 

The employment market is tight and very competitive because of where our society is at this point in time.  Unfortunately that makes finding and keeping a job all the more difficult.  Then toss in being on the Autism Spectrum to complicate matters even more! This might sound impossible, but it’s really not.  There are things you can do to maximize your potential for securing a job you want.

Everyone is familiar with the term ‘Curb Appeal.’ Yes, it’s referring to a home, what a potential buyer first sees the instant they pull up to a home for sale. That first impression will determine how they view the rest of the property.  Well, in effect, you are no different than the house for sale!  What a potential employer sees the moment you walk through the door sets the tone of their impression of you.  This is a key point that you have the opportunity to achieve a positive first impression.

When I meet with Aspies to run my support group, there’s a common trait I see in each and every one of them.  They walk in hunched over, head down, shoulders rounded forward, eyes staring at the floor. What does that convey?  Low self-esteem is the first thing that comes to mind.  If I were a potential employer, would this type of body language appeal to me?  Absolutely not.This might sound harsh, but that’s reality.  You, and only you, can control what your body language speaks about you. 

Following are some very simple steps to help you start off on the right foot in your quest for a job. First, I tell people to have someone like a family member, take a photo of you standing and one of you sitting. Just exactly how you normally stand and sit. Print them off to have as your guide. Next, while you are standing, take a nice deep breath, stand up straight and tall, lift your chin up, and shoulders back.Don’t do it to such an extreme that you look unnatural. Then let them take a picture of you standing proud and tall.Make sure your chin is up, and your eyes are up, looking ahead, or at the person whom you are meeting. Now do the same sitting. Put your back against the chair, shoulders back, chin up, eyes up and looking ahead or at the person you are meeting. Have your helper take a photo. 

Now, line up the photos and see for yourself what your body is saying! The ‘Before’ photos would not be what you want a potential employer to see I’m sure. The ‘After’ photos will be the ones that say you are confident about yourself, and you can do the job you are being hired for.  When I have people do this experiment they are quite shocked at the difference in the two sets of photos. Your body language speaks volumes about you. Whether going for a job interview or a first date, you want to make the best first impression you possibly can. 

This is a simple start to a complex process.  What is most effective is to practice your new body language in front of a mirror. There you can make any adjustments necessary to ensure you look natural yet effective. Continue to practice this until it is a normal way of life. It will make you feel good about yourself and have positive effects far beyond seeking a job! Think positive and keep trying. You can and will achieve the results you want!  And always remember to smile!

Anita is one of the editors of new book Been There. Done That. Try This! published in March 2014 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

What to look forward to in 2014?

Suzie-BookLaunch_Nov13_132739It’s January, for some of us this is a time of hibernation – preserving energy and warmth after a busy Christmas. For Suzie Franklin and Helen Sanderson it is a time for reflection on all the good things about 2013 and to look forward to what lies ahead in 2014.

We asked Suzie what was the best thing about 2013? “Lots of great things happened last year but the thing that I am most proud of are the achievements of my daughter Jennie, the success of her Circle of Support and the launch of our book which captures this journey.”

Suzie co-wrote the book Personalisation in Practice with Helen Sanderson and they launched it at a Community Circles event in November last year. Jennie officially launched the book by cutting the cake and to her delight receiving a rapturous round of applause from on-lookers.

cakeJennie’s story of transition from school to living independently describes how person-centred practices, a personal budget and a Circle of Support have enabled her to live the life she chooses. Jennie is a bright, independent young woman who has autism and learning disabilities.

Suzie explains why they chose to launch the book at an event for Circles of Support: “Jennie’s Circle of support is made up of a small group of people that care about Jennie; her health, happiness and wellbeing. We meet about every two months and discuss the areas of Jennie’s life that need support. We use our collective knowledge and networks to ensure that we have the very best information and that Jennie has access to whatever support she needs. Since forming, Jennie’s Circle has supported her through leaving college, getting her own personal budget and cutting the cake helen and suziemoving into her own – rather lovely – flat. I have no doubt that Jennie has achieved everything she has achieved because of the powerful way that her Circle works, the way it supports her and our whole family. Helen is also in Jennie’s Circle and I describe this in detail in our book so it made absolute sense to launch it at this event.”

Helen Sanderson is CEO of Helen Sanderson Associates and co-founder of Community Circles, a small and passionate group of people using person-centred practices to develop Circles of Support at scale so that more people can benefit. We asked Helen who should read the book Personalisation in Practice? “We wrote it for anyone supporting children and young people with disabilities as they approach adulthood, including parents and carers, SENCOs, teachers, social workers and service providers. As well as describing Jennie and Suzie’s personal journey, which I’m sure many will relate to, it is a great informative resource for those seeking a better understanding of how personalisation and person-centred planning work in practice.”

suzie jennie and helen at book launchSo that’s what was great about 2013, we ask Suzie what the future holds in the year ahead? “More of the same I hope! Jennie is going from strength to strength and this year her Circle is supporting her to ensure she is truly connecting with her friends and community, continuing with her job (dog walking which she loves) and looking at setting up a social enterprise so she can make and sell some of her artwork and home made gifts and cards. My own personal ambition is to show what can be achieved through Circles and to support other families through things like personal budgets and transition by sharing with them what we have learnt in our book. I hope that people find the book to be a useful resource but also that they get comfort from it, that they are not alone in this journey. Having the sole responsibility of supporting your child, who has autism and/or learning disabilities can feel very lonely and there is often a fear associated with what the future could hold. It doesn’t have to be this way though – and that is my hope for 2014 – that more people feel as positively about the future for their children as I do.”

Suzie Franklin and Helen Sanderson are the authors of Personalisation in Practice published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.





Betty Rombout author of forthcoming title AutiPower! explains why AutiPower, what inspired her and how employers and individuals with ASD can get the most out of life. Jansen-Rombout_AutiPower-Succe_978-1-84905-437-9_colourjpg-web

It took us some time to find an attractive title for our book on autism. Every time we were in the car, on our way to an interview, we discussed it. And suddenly: bingo! We knew this is the right title because the book is about the power of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their success in life and work. Success? Yes, that really is possible. We have talked to many people with an ASD, obviously, all have had a difficult time. However, they managed to create a happy life. As Jaap… despite his doctorate in Mathematics, struggled to keep many jobs before realizing that his intense attention to detail was making him a slow worker. It became his strength once he learnt to set goals and communicate his progress.

What was our motivation to write such a book? Well, that’s easy. First of all we wanted to write a positive book. We discovered that there are only a few books about autism in which the power of the people is shown. It was and is our goal to make clear the abilities people with an ASD have and how they can use these abilities in work and life. We really hope that AutiPower will empower people with an ASD. We also hope that employers, managers and teachers will read the book so they learn to recognize people with an ASD in their organizations and help them to get the best out of themselves… and thereby: out of the organization.

People with an ASD, are just one side of the ‘story’. After all, people with a form of autism are reliant on autism professionals, career coaches and employers. Let’s take the last group: employers. We have encountered that it still is difficult for them to see the value and great talents that people with an ASD bring to the workplace. If you are an employer and you want to know how to adapt and support workers with an ASD? Well, first of all, it’s important to learn how a mind of a person with ASD works. The book AutiPower will tell you all about it. Read it and ‘go into the mind’ of Mark, Wendy, Barbara and all the other people with an ASD. Once you know how their brains work, take measures to ensure these people feel comfortable at work. Maybe it’s necessary to create a separate room, or take care that they always have a colleague, someone to talk to when they have questions or when they feel uncertain. And yes, all of this costs you some time, but we are convinced that it is worth investing in these people. People with an ASD are hard workers, accurate, faithful and intelligent.

Many people asked us to give some tips for successful living and working with an ASD. Well, in the beginning we did not know much about autism but as all of the people with an ASD we interviewed were pretty open to talk about their life, we now dare to say that we are kind of ‘experts’ on this subject. So, our tips? Focus on what you can do and don’t focus on what you can’t. That sounds pretty easy, but – look in your own environment – mostly people emphasize their negative rather than their positive skills. Also very important is to be open minded and to talk about your disabilities and problems. Accept coaching in work or at home. It helps, really. Our last tip and maybe the most important one: stay positive. Every day you can and will learn. Take step after step, don’t be impatient and… enjoy life!

We really hope that our book AutiPower is an instructive book for people with an ASD and also for anyone who really wants to gain a better understanding of the thoughts and feelings of people with a form of autism. So, let’s give the last words of this blog to Robyn. In AutiPower she says: ‘I am lucky with the job I have now. I like it and it allows me to make my own choices. And that is very important to me.’

AutiPower! by Betty Rombout and Herman Jansen is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Preparation for Independence—Is Your Student Ready for a New School Year?

Christy Oslund, Co-ordinator of Student Disability Services in the Dean of the Students’ Office at Michigan Technological University, shares helpful tips for parents on preparing students for a new school year and future independence.

Preparation for Independence

As students gear up for another year of school—perhaps even their last year or two before heading off to college or other independent goals—families tend to get caught up in last minute preparations. Do they have adequate school supplies, is it time to buy a scientific calculator, what will the schedule look like for classes and for after school activities? It is easy to get buried in details.

We need to remind ourselves to step back and remember the big picture. We need to help our students be prepared not just for the immediate school term but for the future when they will be required to live more independently. Consider the following questions:

  • Is my child able to take their medication reliably without reminders?
  • Does my child know how to wash their own laundry?
  • Could my child go shopping alone and find their own basic necessities?
  • Have we practiced the child getting up and ready for school without assistance/wake-up calls?
  • Has my child learned to shop for and cook a few simple meals?
  • Can my child wash up after preparing a meal?

Until a person has had the opportunity to practice all these steps towards independence, he or she is not really ready for life away from home, whether that be in a trade school, college, university, or first job. Particularly with high functioning children who are very smart, we can easily forget how important these other day to day life skills are for the young person to grow into a successful adult. Rather than trying to take on teaching all of these skills at once, consider working on them one at a time. It will depend on your child which of these steps will come easiest and which will require the most work.

Consider starting with the step that is likely to be the least difficult for the individual child you are working with, so that your student can build on success as they approach the next goal. If for example, your child is naturally starting to get up in the morning for school, allow that to become an independent activity where he or she is responsible for getting out of the home on time. Realize that this may mean that your child will be late a few times; this is the price that has to be paid in helping your student work towards independence. Once your child leaves home, there will not be anyone getting them out the door on time and this is a skill that is best learned before they are expected to act like an adult.

On the other hand, if your child has shown an interest in cooking, help them identify a few simple meals they would like to cook. Take them shopping and walk them through the process of choosing ingredients for the meal, paying, taking home the shopping, and preparation. For young people who find that process very involved, you may want to make clean up after the meal a separate lesson and learning opportunity.

Remember that almost everyone finds the most effective way to learn is to be given a chance for practice, with necessary explanation/information being provided by someone who has more experience with the skill being learned. If one wants to learn to milk a cow, one would look for a dairy farmer who has experience with milking; if one wants to learn to cook a meal, it helps if the person teaching has cooked before.

At the same time, parents and guardians can show the willingness to learn new skills themselves. If no one in the home is practiced at cooking a meal then helping the child prepare by learning this skill together—perhaps in a basic cooking class, or from a beginners cook book—demonstrates that learning new skills is always possible, and often necessary, no matter what stage we are at in life. By learning side by side with your child, you can demonstrate how to solve problems along the way:

  • How will we prepare for shopping?
  • How do we choose ingredients?
  • How do we decide which pan to use?
  • How can we tell if the heat we are using is too hot or not hot enough?

When more mature family members demonstrate how to solve problems as they are encountered, they also set another example that the child can learn from and call on later in life.

A new school year is an exciting, anxiety producing time of year. It is also a reminder that a child is continuing to grow towards eventual independence. Being mindful to include education and practice with the life skills needed outside of school is just as important as helping a child academically prepare for their future. Just as we wouldn’t expect a child to spontaneously start reading without previous education just because they have left home, we cannot expect them to suddenly know other life skills such as cooking, or getting up without reminders, just because they’ve moved. Use each day to practice these steps towards independence and you can ensure that your child has all the skills necessary to be successful.

Christy is the author of  Succeeding as a Student in the STEM Fields with an Invisible Disability: A College Handbook for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Students with Autism, ADD, Affective Disorders, or Learning Difficulties and their Families and the forthcoming  Supporting College and University Students with Invisible Disabilities: A Guide for Faculty and Staff Working with Students with Autism, AD/HD, Language Processing Disorders, Anxiety, and Mental Illness both published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Creative therapists: How to be your own boss

Mikel_Art-of-Business_978-1-84905-950-3_colourjpg-webIn this extract from The Art of Business, author Emery Hurst Mikel takes a step-by-step look at the process of marketing yourself as a self-employed creative therapist, giving top hints and tips based on her own wealth of experience with this flexible way of working.

Read the extract here