Talking about Autism: A spectrum of opportunities.
We believe that with small changes the workplace can become so much more accessible to people who want to work. From my experience people on the autism spectrum do not want charity, they want the opportunity. This week I will comment about how I started to learn about autism, and look at ways in which we are working with businesses to get people talking, and raising awareness.
As I mentioned in our first blog, one of the key things we want to do is get people talking about autism int the workplace. Having launched our social media this week, I have found hundreds of social media profiles looking at different viewpoints/aspects of autism; Parents sharing their own stories, pages focused on education, new technologies and also a wide range of hashtags. Through raising awareness, it helps to dispel myths and help people to feel comfortable asking questions. It got me thinking about how I started to talk and learn about autism.
"Regardless of diagnosis, music taste, political preference, we are all unique. "
My mum has worked in a school which works with students on the autism spectrum for the best part of the last 30 years. I regularly attended open days and other events from the age of around 5 years old and always enjoyed my interactions with the students and staff. Even at an early age it was clear that each and every person you meet through life is an individual. Regardless of diagnosis, music taste, political preference, we are all unique.
When I moved into education, I worked with a wide range of students and again the most important thing for me was to listen to the students. What did they like? What made them anxious? What external factors could affect them? Which particular barriers could we work on today? Did I get things wrong? Yes of course I did, I look back now and see many mistakes, but the key is to learn from each of these.
I then moved on to set up a transition year for students on the autism spectrum and got to work with many great students and staff. Again, every day was a learning curve, and it was important to learn from every action. But the undoubted thing I left with was the huge amount of talent these individuals had, and I was not prepared to watch these people be unable to access employment.
"Why do we do things this way?"
We have started to engage with a range of businesses and individuals, from a variety of different sectors. This for me is crucial. The roles which people can fill will be varied, and we need to reflect the wide spectrum of skills with a range of job role opportunities. A question I often find myself asking businesses at the moment is “Why do you do things that why?” and the answer has been “because we always have”. This is something which the businesses themselves are showing a willingness to question, and we want to support them to allow society as a whole to benefit.
"Why does nearly every Job Description show "Excellent Communication skills" as essential? Is this always the case?"
An interview isn’t always the best way of assessing candidates, so why do we do it? Why do the vast majority of job descriptions show “Excellent Communication Skills” as essential? What does this actually mean.? Why does a job have to be a substantial number of hours before people will consider advertising a post? For some people working 8 hours per week in small shifts would be fantastic, but often businesses are reluctant to advertise a post such as this.
As I said at the start. 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 people on the autism spectrum do not want charity, they want opportunity. Work with us to help a create spectrum of opportunities which will benefit all of those involved.
Contact us and find out how we can work together. Thomas@track.org.uk
Here are a couple of the news stories which we have shared this week which give an interesting insight
Thank you for reading.