Autism Awareness and Acceptance
A lot of our work so far with businesses and organisations has been raising autism awareness, and in particular how this can be supported in the workplace. We are also trying to raise awareness of our brand TRACK. It has been great at events/networking meetings when someone says, yes, I have heard/seen TRACK in All Things Business, Radio Northampton or through the social media channels. Our aim is to support people to access employment, and whilst autism awareness is rising, the acceptance can be judged when we see more and more people accessing employment.
So what do we mean by awareness?
When meeting new people the autism awareness varies greatly from no/little knowledge, through to having seen “Rain Man”, through to those with an autistic relative. When talking to people one of our key messages is that we need to start the conversations and be able to ask questions and learn. My knowledge of autism comes from the autistic individuals I have worked/socialised or communicated with. Sometimes I think people fear saying the wrong thing, and therefore say nothing…which in my personal opinion is worse. We are encouraged by the reaction we have had so far from the businesses and organisations we have met with, and this is just the start.
So what do we mean by acceptance?
We have been very clear that small changes to the workplace can make the difference to allow an autistic individual to thrive. These environmental changes can be through turning off brighter lights, keeping background noise to a minimum and embracing the fact that we are all individuals! We provide personalised support for businesses to show them the small changes which can make a life changing difference, and we can also support the process of applying for “Access to Work” funding which can provide funding of up to £57,200 per person to support them in the workplace. This could involve appointment a mentor, training sessions for colleagues and managers or physical adaptations to the workplace – all of which can be funded!
It takes time for things to change, but step by step and working with a range of people, we are determined to make a difference and raise autism awareness and acceptance. Our first event last week was a huge success, with some fantastic feedback. We have a huge range of events planned and look forward to sharing these with you very soon.
In the meantime, we are also looking for ideas for the name of our new Northampton Town Centre Café, so please feel free to share your ideas with us!
We believe that with small changes the workplace can become so much more accessible to people who want to work. From my experience the majority of autistic people do not want charity, they want opportunity. Work with us to help a create spectrum of opportunities which will benefit all of those involved.