Archive

Tag Archives: autism and employment

I’ve been really enjoying my new job – in a way I didn’t know was possible! The team is good, but the best bit is the work itself. I never thought I’d find a job that really fitted my intellect. As an Aspie, with chronic social-skill failure and lack of confidence, I got stuck in a loop of taking crappy low-paid customer service roles that made my brain feel like it might as well go on permanent vacation. And the stress levels were horrendous! Now that I have FINALLY found an interesting role in finance, I am starting to get excited about the future again.

Of course, my career choices weren’t just based on the Asperger’s. As many women will know first hand, I also felt it sensible to put my husband’s career first (as he was the higher earner), and focus my efforts on child raising, housework, and all that other valuable yet often underappreciated and mind numbing stuff.

Now, part-timer and relative newbie though I am (at the grand old age of 36) I am starting to get ideas. Ideas like “hey, I could actually finish that CIMA course!” and “maybe I could bring in a decent wage” and my personal favourite, “I’m actually good at something despite having Asperger’s!”.

So, how does this relate to the title of my post today?

The truth is I’d almost given up on having a career. I took time out for child rearing, and when I was ready to get back into an office I struggled so much. It was hard to find something that matched my hours. It was hard to find something that matched my skills and experience. But I kept looking because it was important to me to try. The interviews were as painful as you’d expect for someone like me, and the failures were demotivating. And all along, I wasn’t even sure if it would work out well for me, even if I could get a job.

So, in summary, if you’ve written something off that you were hoping to achieve, maybe it’s time to revisit that, and give yourself another chance. We only get one life.

Advertisements

My husband highlighted this news story to me, about how Microsoft are planning provision for hiring people on the Autism spectrum. They are working with Specialisterne, a company that specialises in getting autistic people into the workplace.

The statistics quoted in the article surprised me. I didn’t know we were such a large part of society, but knowing this makes me even more excited about what opportunities may arise.

I know from experience that it can be very difficult to make the right impression in interviews, and fit in with colleagues, even if you only have a ‘mild’ form of autism. No wonder so many people on the spectrum struggle to gain and keep employment. What a waste of talent!

Our jobs market is far from ideal, even for those without social differences such as Autism and Asperger’s. Finally, there is help available and some recognition of our innate talents, rather than focusing on our difficulties.

If you’re on the spectrum and need help finding a job, perhaps Specialisterne can help you?

If any of my readers have experience with the company, or any advice on employment in general, please add a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

O, and good luck with your job, job hunting, or training.

 

I was excited to read this article about a Danish firm employing autistic people as software testers.

It makes a refreshing change to see the skills and needs of people with autism recognised in a positive way.

Getting a bad press

So many articles in the news seem to be about pills that ‘make the autism go away’, or warnings about possible causes of autism. I admit, being on the spectrum has often caused me trouble, even though I’m at the high functioning end of the scale. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people with more severe forms of autism. Even so, I get annoyed when I see so much news about curing or eliminating the condition and nothing about how to make life better for people who are currently living with it.

UK employment and autism

There are practical issues to be faced every day. A major issue for people with ASD is employment. Generally speaking, the UK’s employment and recruitment system is heavily geared towards people who aren’t on the autism spectrum. In fact, I’d say it was heavily scewed in favour of people who are extroverts – the opposite of someone with autism. And yet people with autism have skills which would be valuable in many workplaces and positions. They just need help getting through the recruitment process and settling in to their new environment.

The company in the article I linked to, Specialisterne, has come up with a radical solution to make their recruitment process suitable for people with autism. The working environment is also set up with their employees’ specific needs in mind.

You could argue that it’s easy to set up an autistic- or aspie-friendly workplace when you’re starting from scratch. Modifying other workplaces and recruitment policies for existing firms who want a mixed intake may not be practical. You could also argue that this company is effectively discriminating by specifically choosing to employ people with autism.

Discrimination?

Personally, I think it’s discriminatory not to adapt to the needs of people with autism if you have a position that would suit their skills. If you’re prepared to interview and employ someone in a wheelchair and you put in a ramp and a stairlift to help them get in, why not modify your interview technique with lego and offer part-time or flexible hours for people with autism?

If autistic people can’t get a job, they end up on benefits or being supported by their family. It’s a waste of tax-payer’s money and it can’t be good for their self esteem. Autistic people are more prone to depression than their non-autistic counterparts, so being able to support themselves is very important.

Natural skills

People with autism tend to have good memories, strong attention to detail and they can focus on tasks with a degree of stamina often lacking in people who aren’t on the spectrum. They can bring real clarity to problems and make sense of complicated data.

I’m glad Specialisterne is planning to come to the UK. More intiatives like this could make a huge difference to people with autism – and the way they’re perceived in society.