3 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever been bullied at work? Was the bully a colleague or your boss? How did you handle the situation? “If there is no fight, there is no change.” This is the fulcrum upon which Weirdo 2.0 by Christopher Wheat rests.
This memoir chronicles the workplace mistreatment suffered by the author as an autistic teacher. Wheat’s story is remarkable because the discrimination hinges on his Asperger's syndrome. Asperger’s syndrome is a condition on the autism spectrum. According to Wheat, a person with Asperger's syndrome has underdeveloped social skills and communication abilities. Some of them may have touch issues, disorganized thought processes, or visual-spatial organizations; they have trouble visually putting things in place. For their lack of communication skills, they may be loners or unwilling to participate in social functions. The author emotively captured his story in fourteen chapters.
When Wheat started his career as a professional educator in 1996, he did not envisage the magnitude of discrimination he would face fifteen years after. He did not imagine that his boss would direct the school district to do away with him by saying to them: “Get rid of the weirdo.” Wheat was one of the social studies teachers at Jane Austen High School, Puzzle city, Michigan. After fifteen years of service, the author's employers promptly relieved him of his duties as a high school teacher. He eventually slipped into a financial crisis and he almost lost his home, but he fought back. The White House became a part of the matter. What culminated in his sack, and how did it all end?
The author wrote this orderly book in the first-person narrative. Readers will read about the overall impact the situation had on him as he desperately searched for another job. Readers will find out what sustained the author and how his family made it through the financial upheaval. Readers will also find out the ailments he now suffers as the aftermath of which he seeks treatment. Anyone who has suffered any form of discrimination would find his story relatable. Readers will feel empathy for him, just as I did. They will feel the author’s frustration because of the embarrassment he endured. The latter part of the book contains a reference section and the latest edition of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The best part was that, according to the author, he wrote this book for awareness and forgiveness. Without a doubt, I believe he has achieved the intention for which he wrote this inspiring book. Readers will use his experiences and the lessons learned to help those who find themselves in similar situations. Putting an awful experience on paper will serve as a catharsis for him. Hence, this will help fulfill a therapeutic purpose and start the process of forgiveness. I also liked that he was upfront about his experiences; his honesty illuminates every line of the text. He even included excerpts from his journal concerning his ordeal to buttress his point. His writing style is conversational as he divulges details of his personal life. The author's personality leaps from the pages of his book and grabs the reader. I also liked that he included pictures from the school to help drive home his point.
I enjoyed reading this powerful narrative; however, it contains a few instances of profanity. It does not contain any sexual content. But for the number of errors, I would have awarded this memoir the highest rating. However, I am constrained to give it three out of four stars because it is informative. I recommend it to everyone, particularly those dealing with one form of workplace discrimination or another. Autistic employees will also find it invaluable.
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