We had another really good meeting this week at the Derby branch of the National Autistic Society. Rob, one of our branch members provided a talk on employment. It was so refreshing to hear from someone who is autistic themselves speak about his experiences.
I could of honestly listened to him for hours and hours and I think a lot of people in the room felt the same. Rob highlighted issues such as the work environment and making minor adjustments to help someone who may experience sensory overload. This could be a change in lightbulbs or making use of natural light from a window and allowing the use of headphones or earplugs to cut out some of the loud noises associated with a busy workplace.
Rob also mentioned the importance of routines, travelling within certain employment and the task of having to be sociable. I loved hearing about how he tackled a balance of social interaction, enough to want to be asked to say, go to the pub but also being allowed the choice and not being pressured to take part in after work activities if he didn't want to.
The evening certainly raised a lot of points that I suppose some people don't think of. There are so many slight adjustments that can be made for someone who is autistic and wow if I was an employer I'd say use the many qualities of autism as an advantage. Autistic people tend to think outside the box, have great knowledge especially with certain special interests and can achieve great things so it is important we help employers understand this and allow progression in the workplace.
It depends on the environment and type of work, people all have different abilities whether they are autistic or not. Rob didn't completely sugar coat everything of course there are advantages and disadvantages, good experiences and bad and it was good to share it all with us. I think at the end of the evening most people went away with a sense of positivity, in fact I don't think I've never seen so many smiley faces and people leaving with a spring in their step as though everything could be ok.
There was a mix of people who came along to see Rob speak, some were parents, some were autistic themselves and we did have a couple of employers in the room too so I think everyone got advice for their particular interest which was so reassuring. I can relate to how some of these people felt being a parent of an autistic adult myself and someone who suspects they are on the spectrum themselves. There is a lot to hope for within employment and progress is being made for anyone who may need help to access work. I still think we still need to help employers and other employees understand more about autism but it's happening.
Maybe we can do more to offer companies more awareness schemes that make working environments more autism friendly. I know it would really help and it would take away a lot of anxiety for autistic people who really do want to work. It is really just an understanding from employers, a willing to adapt and make certain provisions for a positive future. It isn't about changing that autistic person it is about allowing that person to be autistic and be able to work too.
I would like to thank Rob for coming along to the branch as it was such a positive experience and I think I can speak for all that came along too. If you would like to know more about Rob he has a website at
www.an-autistics-view.co.uk and he is also on Twitter: Rob@RobRubix so look him up as he writes some great blogs.
Thank you for reading today, please pop back tomorrow for Pass the Remote but for now......
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Every Saturday will be about Autism, family and life.