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About Aeolienne

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  • Birthday February 21

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  • Location
    Leamington Spa, Warks
  • Interests
    Baroque music, green issues (esp. renewable energy), hillwalking, Quakerism, reading (astronomy, fiction, popular science), practical conservation, art exhibitions, royal-watching

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  1. I've been working full-time for the duration of the lockdown (my job was already set up for working for home). This I know makes me one of the more fortunate ones, but it has meant that I haven't enjoyed the massive increase in free time that other people are apparently experiencing. Nor have I got to know my neighbours any better. I live in a top floor flat and I don't even know how many other people are in the building. Physically I've been fine, apart from initially suffering sore hands from the frequent washing and (in the last month) somehow straining an abductor hip muscle which makes some yoga poses painful. In fact I've shed 4 kg. Amazing what a difference the absence of vending machines, colleagues' birthday cakes and samosa sales have made! My greatest achievement was to land two job offers last month: one for an internal promotion I'd been interviewed for back in mid-March (the last time I ever shook hands with anyone) and one with a different employer, an energy consultancy. I've decided to go for the latter. I'm still officially with my current employer until 29 June and am now using up my annual leave. Too bad there's not much I can do with it.
  2. What about virtual meetups? That's all we're advised to do in the current circumstances.
  3. I wouldn't rule out someone on the autistic spectrum being capable of being a TV chef. In fact, I could see how someone who struggles with social situations finding solace in the physicality of handling food and the rule-driven procedure of a recipe. Working in a noisy restaurant kitchen could be a challenge for someone with auditory sensitivities, but on the other hand some might find the blunt style of communication used by chefs easier than that used by office workers where you're expected to work out what people actually mean. That said, I don't think Jamie Oliver is autistic. Not simply because of how he comes across as a presenter, because as Chris Packham has showed it's possible to develop a separate persona as a performer. I just think we would surely have heard about it by now if he were. Given how open he's been about his dyslexia diagnosis, it would seem out of character to keep an autism diagnosis secret. Nor do I think it likely that he would be autistic and unaware of it, because he would surely have learnt about it via his children. Although there wasn't as much awareness of autism when he received his dyslexia diagnosis in the 90s, I'm sure he would quick to notice if any of his children (how many does he have? 4? 5?) were dyslexic and be rooting for them to get all the assessments they need, including all associated conditions.
  4. In addition to the Meetup groups I have already mentioned there is the Autism One on One group which meets on the second Wednesday of every month between 18:30 and 20:30 at the Kenilworth Sports & Social Club. Apparently they've been in existence since before I moved to the area, but they only advertise their presence on Facebook and are not included in the NAS directory.
  5. Or this little gem from Host Unusual: Kudhva George "Amazing Spaces" Clarke would approve of this.
  6. Alex from the last series talks about his Undateables experience from 10 minutes in...
  7. (Not written by me) Autism to ADHD: thinking differently about recruitment Despite having much to offer, neurodiverse people can struggle to land a job. Some firms are now looking at new ways to tap into their talents By Georgina Fuller Mon 3 Feb 2020 The term “diversity and inclusion” has become ubiquitous in the corporate world yet neurodiverse people – those with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia or dyslexia – are often overlooked. One in seven people are "neurodivergent", according to ACAS. Despite this, a recent study by the CIPD found that seven in 10 businesses ignored their own neurodiversity policy. Neurodiverse people can, however, often bring a dazzling array of skills and an alternative perspective to the workplace. Those with ADHD, for example, could have the ability to “hyper focus” and excel when working to tight deadlines. People with autistic spectrum disorder may have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time and be supremely reliable. And those with dyslexia might have strong verbal skills. Some employers have realised that standard recruitment methods, such as panel interviews, might not work as well for neurodiverse people: Ernst and Young, BT and Siemens all have programmes for neurodivergent employees. Consumer goods giant P&G has recently launched an apprenticeship programme in conjunction with the National Autistic Society (NAS) for its innovation sector. Emma O’Leary, who oversees the programme, says: “To attract different thinkers, your approach needs to be different. The traditional method of verbal-based interviews is very limiting if social communication is a challenge.” While the programme focuses on those with autism, P&G encourages anyone with a neurodivergent condition to apply. “So far, between the UK and Boston, P&G have had more than 50 people attend the assessment day, and 11 employees progressing on to internships,” O’Leary says. Liz Johnson, co-founder of The Ability People, a disability inclusion consultancy, says there are a number of measures employers can take to make apprenticeship schemes more accessible. “They include: training interviewers to allow neurodiverse candidates to perform at their best; eliminating jargon in job descriptions; explicitly stating you welcome neurodiverse candidates; and completing desk assessments for new joiners, so they don’t experience sensory overload.” Having a more neurodiverse workforce can help employers reflect the different needs and outlooks of their customers, Johnson adds. “The extra insight they gain will help them adapt their products so they best serve the needs of their whole customer base.” Emma Kearns, head of Enterprise and Employment at the NAS points out that only 16% of autistic people are currently estimated to be in full-time employment. “Most autistic people are desperate to find a job that reflects their talents but the recruitment process, with unpredictable questions, is often a huge barrier.” Ultimately, says Johnson, employers need to realise that failing to recruit and include neurodiverse people can mean missing out on new ways of thinking and untapped talent. “And in the incredibly competitive world of business this isn’t something any company can afford to miss out on.” Source: Guardian
  8. Check her out at the Made by Dyslexia conference - 2 hours 34 minutes in...
  9. Did you make it? "I moved from Scotland to Berlin to bake"
  10. IMVHO I don't see what the point of the upside-down goggles is at all. And for the record, I am much more comfortable with written communication than with engaging and working with other people. Shame there's no special software to help with the latter.
  11. I'm not sure how helpful it is to ascribe superhuman skills to autistics. That's subjecting us to unrealistic expectations.
  12. (Not written by me) Does your company nurture neurodiverse talent? By Chi Chi Izundu 17 January 2020 How do you make your workplace more welcoming to neurodiverse employees, and ensure their talent is nurtured? David Joseph takes off his shoes, crosses his legs and tucks himself into an armchair. For the CEO of one of the biggest record labels in the UK - Universal Music UK - he's unassuming. Our interview is supposed to last 10 minutes, but nearly an hour later (and several reminders by his assistant that he has other meetings), David is still talking, with pride, about diversity. Because he wants change. He wants to talk about diversity, especially a hidden diversity that never really gets a look in on any conversation about difference - neurodivergence. "A defining moment was that I got a text from this artist about three days after I saw them," he says. "This artist has unquestionably changed culture, but the words [in the text] were in the wrong order. I always speak to this person, seen them a lot, worked with them for a long time, but this was the first time I've ever had a text from them. And then I realised why." Neurodivergence - also known as neurodiversity - is a term many people may not be familiar with. It refers to the community of people who have dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, are on the autism spectrum, or have other neurological functions. According to the conciliation service ACAS, "these are 'spectrum' conditions, with a wide range of characteristics, but which nevertheless share some common features in terms of how people learn and process information". "Our artists, not all of them, certain ones, definitely think differently," says David. He's not just talking about Florence Welch or Billie Eilish - whose neurodiversity is well documented - he's talking about any employee at the label who is part of the creative process. An estimated one in seven people are neurodivergent in the UK but this isn't something that is routinely acknowledged in the workplace. "I need to reinforce that this is interwoven with all the other issues around diversity. It's not like we're picking this one over and above all the others," says David. This isn't about being nice and just giving people jobs. "There is an unconscious bias towards hiring people you think you'll get on with, share similar views, and dare I say it, might not be rebellious or cause dissent. I am a big fan of respectful outliers," says David. "I've been allowed to grow through this company and fundamentally be myself." After carrying out a fair amount of research, David and his HR team have produced a guidebook that more than 100 companies have expressed an interest in. It's cream coloured, to make it easier to read for people with dyslexia (the advice is to use dark coloured text on a light - not white - background, and sufficient contrast levels between background and text). It's full of simple graphics and isn't too wordy. The message is to stop focusing on things that neurodivergent people can't do and start celebrating what they are exceptional at. It's something that insurance company Direct Line, which actively recruits neurodivergent individuals, has been working on for some time. "There are so many different strengths that we hold, and I think it's easy to focus on the negatives but you get so much more when you focus on the positives," says Yvonne Akinwande. The 31-year-old marketing consultant says her employer recognises the need to ensure the working environment is suited to neurodiverse employees. She says that because of her dyslexia, she mixes up certain letters and doesn't easily recognise errors, such as spelling, punctuation and grammar. But the company has given her specific software to help with recording and writing up meeting notes. And even simple things, from the colour of her notepads to situating her desk in a quieter part of the office, has helped create a comfortable environment. More importantly, she feels that the more creative marketing role that she now holds suits her skill set more than the one she held previously. "In my previous role we would be audited monthly on our work. One of the things that would continuously come out was my grammar and spelling mistakes. We would need to send out formal correspondence to customers, and if they included car registrations, for instance, I would mix up letters. "All these things would mean I was marked down. It made me feel negative in terms of my capabilities, which is not normal for me because I am very confident and very positive about what I can bring to the table. "I needed a role that highlighted and praised the skills that I do have that can be beneficial to the company." Yvonne is co-lead of a neurodiversity strand that has been created within the business. Change your processes Intelligence agency GCHQ is proud of what it has described as its "mix of minds". "Without neurodiversity, we wouldn't be GCHQ," it says in a statement. It is another employer that actively recruits neurodivergent people, and has been doing so for more than 20 years. It is the ability to focus and find links and patterns, among other things, that is attractive about people in this community. The spy agency, which works alongside MI5, MI6 and law enforcement, will soon open a site in Manchester that has been designed with special adjustments to support neurodiverse staff. It already makes things like noise-cancelling headphones and voice-to-text and text-to-voice software available. "Some of our most talented and creative people have a neurodiverse profile - from autism spectrum condition to dyslexia, and from dyscalculia and dyspraxia. Our apprentices are three to four times more likely to have dyslexia than the national average," the statement says. GCHQ examples of workplace adjustments can include: Mind mapping software Noise cancelling headphones Voice to text/Text to voice software On-screen reading rulers GCHQ examples of typical adjustments at interview: Taking notes and mind maps into interview Having extra time to compensate for slower processing speed Not being asked multiple questions at the same time Using a whiteboard or flipchart to "car park" questions to return to later Recruitment agency Exceptional Individuals is made up of a team of neurodivergent individuals who understand the challenges that even a job interview can pose for people like themselves. They help with CVs, filling out applications, interview prep, and maintain a relationship with that person to make sure they have longevity in their job. They also work with businesses to help them make their workplace more inclusive, and educate and inform staff on working in a neurodiverse workplace. "Employers are using processes that are quite dated, which is screening talent out," founder Matt Boyd says. So, he says, if you are bad at spelling and get something wrong on an application form, you're not going to be considered for the job. "People with autism, for example, because of how they can communicate in an interview and how that's perceived, are often not considered for the role or taken onto the next round. "There are lots of challenges that people with ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism come up against just because employers don't understand and don't have processes in place." And that process could be something as simple as how a job ad is worded. For Direct Line's Yvonne, key to getting her dream job was that the advert didn't specify something like: "Must be exceptional at written communication". "I am not exceptional at written communication," she says. "But it did ask for someone who's creative in their mind-set and likes to engage and work with other people. Skills that I possess." The Office For National Statistics doesn't break down unemployment by neurodiversity, so there are no specific statistics on unemployment among neurodivergent people. But according to the National Autistic Society, only an estimated 16% of autistic people are in full-time employment. Inexpensive reasonable adjustments Neurodiversity is protected under the Equality Act 2010, and according to the Department of Work and Pensions, an employer should make "reasonable changes" if someone discloses their neurodiversity. Making those changes doesn't have to be costly. The government's Access to Work Scheme allows employers to access money for any "extra disability related costs of working that are beyond standard reasonable adjustments people have when starting work or maintaining employment". But for David, back at Universal, as we chat, he smiles at the strides his company has made in this area. "Part of our job is to meet a lot of people. And we sometimes sit with them and notice that that was like the same person 12 times. They dressed the same, they talked the same. "And it makes me feel really proud of what we've got here. We really have created, without meaning to a 'come as you are and lets try and make you be the best version of yourself possible' policy. We're creatively curious." As singer Florence Welch wrote in the Universal Music UK guidebook: "It would be wonderful if people could walk into jobs and be honest about how they move through the world." Source: BBC News
  13. (Not written by me)Why you should hire an autistic person right nowAutistic people have been overlooked too often because employers can't see past social skills. That is a big mistakeBy Simon Baron-CohenFriday 3 January 2020In 2020, there will be a sea change in how autistic people are treated in professional settings. As companies are increasingly celebrate diversity in the workplace – diversity of gender, ethnicity and ability – this will extend to neurodiversity: different kinds of brains and minds.Autistic people’s disabilities are widely known, but one of their best-established strengths is their attention to detail. Anecdotally, there are autistic children who can complete 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles with the picture-side face down, just through focusing on the shapes. This suggests a talent, sometimes called a savant skill, in both perception of and memory for detail.Group studies conducted by psychologists have confirmed these anecdotes. In the Embedded Figures Test, in which subjects have to find a target shape within a larger design, autistic people, both children and adults, perform faster and more accurately than non-autistic (“neurotypical”) people. In visual-search tests, where subjects have to find a target stimulus in a large display of close imposters (such as finding a letter T among a sea of letter Is), autistic people are also faster and more accurate than neurotypical people.This remarkable attention to detail is basically excellent pattern recognition and it appears to stem from systemising, an evolved function in the human brain that helps us understand how things work by analysing a system in terms of its underlying rules. Like any skill, systemising occurs on a bell curve in the population, with some people being faster at spotting patterns than others. Autistic people are often strong systemisers. Indeed their attention is often described as “obsessive” as they check and recheck the patterns of a system.This important skill has a number of benefits in the workplace. Autistic peoples’ excellent attention to detail means they may make fewer mistakes, and their narrow focus may mean that they are not satisfied until a task is completed. The high levels of honesty and loyalty that are closely associated with autism are obviously desirable qualities, too.Yet, despite these strengths, autistic people experience high levels of unemployment, primarily because many jobs require strong social and communication skills to get through the interview stage. In 2020 we will see companies encouraging autistic applicants to apply to work for them and recruitment processes being modified to meet their needs. There are several reasons why this will be a welcome development. Firstly, it extends the basic human right to work and employment. Secondly, employment is closely correlated with good mental health, and autistic people often suffer from poor mental health, most likely because of forms of social exclusion.Finally, teams in the workplace that are diverse are often more productive and more innovative. With the right support and reasonable adjustments, autistic people make wonderful employees. In 2020, their remarkable strengths in pattern recognition will be harnessed for their benefit and the benefit of all in society.Simon Baron-Cohen is professor of developmental psychopathology and director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge UniversitySource: Wired
  14. Interview (not translated by me!)
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