Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Aeolienne

  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!)
  15. Does your son have any plans for what he's going to do after university?
  16. (Not written by me - a look back at the 90s from the perspective of the mid-2010s) The 90s are back: the return of the decade that good taste forgot From Reebok Pumps to Dr Martens, Beck to Neneh Cherry and bumbags to cargo pants... Richard Godwin heralds the return of the 90s By Richard Godwin Thursday 27 March 2014 At last, we are emerging from recession. On the catwalks, Marc Jacobs’ grunge is vying with Prada’s minimalism, as worn by a new breed of super-model. On the streets, the Reebok Pump is the ‘It’ trainer, the Dr Martens is the must-have boot and Jerry Seinfeld is a normcore style icon. Neneh Cherry has a new album, Aaliyah’s ‘Back and Forth’ is the tune du jour in Dalston, while the new 3,000-capacity Studio 338 in Greenwich is bringing ‘Ibiza-style clubbing’ to the suburbs. Oh, and there’s an unpopular Conservative prime minister and a vague sense of impending apocalypse, too… Then, just as I was wondering if all this adds up to a 1990s revival, the Lighthouse Family intervened in the Crimea. As tensions mounted, the middle-of-the-road duo behind such quintessential 1990s crapness as ‘Lifted’ and ‘Ocean Drive’ offered to send Vladimir Putin some CDs, ‘so he can chill the f*** out’. People did a lot of chilling the f*** out in the 1990s! For anyone who grew up in that gurning, sarcastic, cocksure decade, the prospect of returning there is a little alarming. Some of us have spent years trying to forget Kula Shaker ever happened and disownourteenagecrushes on Jet from Gladiators. And do people not remember how painfully slow the dial-up connection was then? But our nostalgia is pretty specific. Just as if you watch a film like Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist, it looks more like the year it was made (1970) rather than the year it was set in (1938), so the 1990s catwalk revival has a particular flavour. If you had to home in on a year, it would be 1992. You can see it in the A/W 2014 collections of Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs, who has returned to doing the sort of unkempt grunge that made his name back when Kate Moss and Johnny Depp were an item. It’s a sort of can’t-be-bothered look, an epochal insouciance that you can hear in many of the decade’s truly great musical moments, from ‘Loser’ by Beck (back with a new album!) and ‘I Hate Myself and Want to Die’ by Nirvana. Some designers have gone for a fresher take on early 1990s style for the coming autumn, such as the grown-up grunge at Christopher Kane, and Jeremy Scott’s bandanas and street bling collection for Moschino. Versace, perhaps the quintessential 1990s label, is back with renewed vigour after selling 20 per cent to Blackstone, while the stable of supermodels that the label helped launch — Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, etc — find their echo in the present generation of clothes horses with personality, such as Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and Jourdan Dunn. But it’s on the high street that you see the revival’s purest expression. Classic 1990s trainers such as the Reebok Pump (with that little orange basketball that you use to inflate your sole!) and the Adidas Gazelle have become collector’s items. I’m sure I spotted a bumbag in Shoreditch the other day, while Palladium boots and Dr Martens are definitely a thing. Miley Cyrus recently performed in a cannabis-spattered leotard wearing a very small rucksack: very 1992. The Global Hypercolor T-shirt revival can’t be far off. The Wolf of Wall Street — largely set in the early 1990s — is one of the sharper films to reference, particularly the grey sweatpants that Leonardo DiCaprio wears as he falls victim to his Quaaludes. Meanwhile, the so-called normcore trend for dressing like a computer geek recalls those utopian early days of the World Wide Web and has its echoes in classic anti-fashion, the toned-down response to the excesses of the 1980s. Still, for all the early 1990s moments that resonate right now — CK jeans, D’Angelo soul, Eric Cantona collars — it’s interesting how many of the later moments fall flat. The Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever!, was a spectacular failure. The Full Monty stage show announced its closure after a month, despite strong reviews. And nobody feels the need to replay the decade’s big, self-conscious moments, such as the Oasis vs Blur chart battle of 1995, the ‘Football’s Coming Home’ heartache of 1996, the New Labour election victory of 1997. However, enough time has passed that we can appreciate a lot of the stuff that we overlooked. I was so taken with playing Super Mario World at the time that I failed to get excited about the World Wide Web. Aaliyah (loved by all the girls in my class) sounded rather lamestream back then, but now I appreciate how fresh and forward-looking her songs were. And so we rewrite history. TLC over Elastica. Grunge over Britpop. My So-Called Life over This Life. Cargo pants over charity shop flares. Clueless over Trainspotting. Salt-N-Pepa over the Spice Girls. One of the loudest echoes of the 1990s is heard on Buzzfeed, which has built a new media empire on the back of posts such as ‘23 Things That Saved by The Bell Taught You’ and ‘36 Timeless Outfits from Clueless’. There’s an innocence to the way that Buzzfeed celebrates the 1990s, which makes sense when you realise it is pitched not at people who were hanging out with Liam and Patsy at the Met Bar, but those who spent the 1990s playing with Super Soakers and watching The Raccoons (dreadful, btw). There is no surer way to a generation’s hearts than through its childhood memories. ‘39 Signs You Grew Up in the 90s’ was among the first online posts when Buzzfeed UK was launched last year and featured Streetfighter II, Tamagotchis and those bike reflectors that came free with Kellogg’s cereal. Looking back, it was a pretty innocent time. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989; Al Qaeda attacked America in 2001. In between? Well, aside from a few embassy bombings and the ever-present risk of being gunged, all was quiet, geopolitically speaking. In 1992, the economist Francis Fukuyama could write of ‘the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy’ in his book The End of History. It’s easy to laugh now, but at the time, there was a feeling that life had turned out OK. It wasn’t only acid house ravers around the M25 who had fun — everyone seemed to lighten up, as if ecstasy had made its way into the water supply. Hooligans softened into lads and football became mainstream entertainment. Shopping was suddenly a leisure activity, as Londoners flocked to out-of-town centres such Bluewater and Lakeside. Supermarkets began to stock such exoticisms as hummus and feta cheese in the way that we’re now bombarded by chia seeds and kale. Eating out became normal. Before the 1990s, orange juice counted as a starter in most UK restaurants; by the end of the decade, glamorous haunts such as the Atlantic Bar and Grill in Piccadilly (now Brasserie Zédel) and Damien Hirst’s Notting Hill restaurant Pharmacy had become destinations in the way Berners Tavern and Chiltern Firehouse are now. With the Millennium on the horizon, an uneasy truce was declared following the angry fighting of the 1980s. One of my main complaints as a teenager was that there was nothing to complain about. In retrospect, we can see the fault lines: the increasing reliance on credit; the deregulation of the money markets; rumblings of unrest in the Middle East; the chaos of post-Communist Russia; the transformational effects of digital communication… However, is it any wonder that we now recall with fondness those last few years before mobile phones, reality TV, internet trolling and cyberbullying? Every reborn era comes with a twist: whenever we resurrect the past, we do so in our own image, incorporating our current obsessions and importing whatever else has happened between. The 1990s haven’t come back unaltered, but what has resurfaced is that once again there’s a lot of untapped youthful energy on our streets. Perhaps the bigger revival is yet to come: Cool Britannia, the sequel? Source: Evening Standard
  17. (Not written by me) "This is not a disability gig": the musician putting on inclusive nights to break down barriers Musician Robyn Steward, who has 10 disabilities, including autism and cerebral palsy, explains how venues can be more inclusive By Sam Davies Thursday, 21st November 2019 Robyn Steward is a trumpet player, teacher and author. She has 10 disabilities, including autism and cerebral palsy. She loves music, particularly jazz and experimental, but has rarely found gig venues where she feels comfortable, as both listener and performer. It is with this in mind that she started Robyn's Rocket, an inclusivity-conscious live music project, in 2017. Robyn’s Rocket is not a “disability gig”, Steward says, but somewhere people can have fun regardless of their ethnicity, sexuality, religion, gender, ability or what language they speak. “Experimental music gigs often attract a bunch of white men,” she adds. “If you’re a white woman or a woman of a different colour skin... you might feel a bit overwhelmed.” She’s been to gigs aimed at specifically at disabled fans before, but felt disillusioned. “I would go to a lot of gigs that are geared towards people with learning difficulties and autism,” she says. “And they put on loads of great bands with disabilities, and they’re just mainly playing to a disabled audience. I thought, that’s silly – those bands are just as good as bands without disabilities. “Often the word ‘inclusion’ is just used about disabled people,” she continues. “But actually if you don’t fit into a binary gender, somewhere that has gendered toilets is not inclusive of your needs. And it shouldn’t be, ‘oh, you can only really go out if you can speak English and read English.’ Everyone should be able to follow what’s going on.” Making it easier for audiences and performers Robyn’s Rocket takes its name from the spaceship design of Steward’s specially made stage. On stage the equipment is all colour- and shape-coded to make it easier for performers to recognise their stuff. These shapes and colours also match with the names on the timetables around the venue, meaning fans can see who is playing when, without needing to read the words on a page. At the bar, menus are printed in large, Arial font, complete with pictures, meaning anyone ordering can point to what they want if they would prefer not to shout over the noise of the club. Fans will also be given a rocket-shaped “communication badge” on entry: position your rocket pointing upwards if you want to talk to new people, downwards if you’d rather be left to enjoy the music, or sideways if you want to speak to people you know already. Steward plays trumpet, though not as you know it, wiring it through a series of pedals. She plays twice on the night, first with cellist Kathy Hulme as avant-garde duo The Hairdressers, then with the funk and salsa influenced band Bassheads. Also on the bill are free improvisation band Jamaica and trumpeter Steve Pretty. Next stop Glastonbury? Robyn’s Rocket is a work in progress, but Steward hopes one day she might take the event to the Scala in London, or to Glastonbury. Next year she plans to invite other musicians and promoters to host their own inclusivity-conscious gigs, while Robyn’s Rocket will be going to the Wellcome Collection as part of the Beautiful Octopus Club, a disability club run by creative arts company Heart n Soul. “I’m hoping I can influence how the industry thinks about inclusion,” says Steward. “There’s a lot of division between people at the moment. We should all be more together. And celebrate difference.” How venues can improve their inclusivity Venues can apply to the Arts Council for capital grants if they want to install a lift or a hearing loop. But there are lots of little things they can do, such as painting the edge of stairs white or yellow for people with a visual impairment, or having large-print bar menus. If it’s a standing venue, have some fold-up chairs. Managers should set up an email so people can contact the venue with their requirements. And it’s important for venues not to see inclusivity as an add-on, but as something they can be creative with, and a work in progress. The next Robyn’s Rocket is on Thursday 21 November at 7:30 pm at Cafe OTO, London E8. For more information go to robynsteward.com Source: iNews
  18. I'm still trying to work out what my special talent is. In the case of Greta Thunberg, having a father who is willing to pay her travel costs and accompany her to conferences probably helps no end.
  19. (Not written by me) Molly Olly's Wishes gets a digital helping hand from tech experts Ian Hughes 16th Oct, 2019 THE TECHNOLOGY and gaming industries have come together to create a new digital character to help teenagers diagnosed with cancer. Representatives from the Institute of Coding, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, One Health Care and games developers from Leamington have brought their expertise together to create a new online digital character alongside the charity Molly Olly’s Wishes. The character will help develop the charity’s work in supporting young people through their cancer diagnoses and treatment by reaching an older teenage audience through an online platform. Molly Olly’s wishes, which was founded by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw in 2011 following the death of their daughter Molly to cancer at the age of eight, provides special treats or equipment to children aimed at making dealing with cancer treatments more comfortable. The tech experts have come together to develop Olly the Brave – a lion who features in the charity’s book series and is also a soft toy mascot with detachable hair – into an online character for teenagers suffering with the disease. Louise Phipps, from the Institute of Coding at Coventry University, said she was delighted to be able to help the charity to reach a new generation of patients. Rachel Ollerenshaw thanked all those who had given their time to help the charity. Source: Leamington Observer
  20. (Not written by me) ‘With Asperger’s you put on a mask to pretend you’re normal’: Daniel Lightwing on how the film of his life helps take the stigma out of autism Londoner Daniel Lightwing was an outsider at school but maths helped him find a job at Google — and love. He talks with Susannah Butter about the film of his life Susannah Butter 19 March 2015 In any conversation about the modern workplace Google is held up as the ideal. But when Daniel Lightwing worked there as a web developer he was not happy. “I have a problem with office culture,” says the 26-year-old, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome — now simply known as an autistic spectrum disorder — marked by difficulties with social interaction and non-verbal communication. “I ate lunch by myself to avoid people talking about things that were not work-related. The more I did stuff like that the more people rejected me.” School was worse. “I didn’t go to lunch because I wouldn’t know where to sit or what to say, so I didn’t eat. I was really skinny and when my dad found out he was furious.” Lightwing’s feelings are expressed in the new film X+Y, which is based on his story. Director Morgan Matthews had the idea when he met Lightwing filming 2007 BBC documentary Beautiful Young Minds, about the International Maths Olympiad (IMO). X+Y’s protagonist, Nathan Ellis (Asa Butterfield), is lonely and bullied at school. His life changes when he is chosen to represent Great Britain at the IMO in China where he falls in love with a girl who helps him connect with society, and his mother. “I cried the first three times I watched it. It says things I was feeling but could not express,” says Lightwing. He speaks softly, making eye contact occasionally before looking back down at his bitten fingernails. His maths workings on a sheet of paper appear in the film. “My cameo,” he smiles. As in X+Y, he fell in love with a Chinese girl and married her. Yan Zhu has a stake in the film but they are no longer together. “She ran away back to China one day when I was working at Google and I never saw her again. I don’t have a positive impression of her now, what she did was cruel.” He stops. Talking about it hurts his current girlfriend’s feelings. “I live with my new girlfriend, which is why it is awkward.” She is also Chinese. They met “at a Chinese gathering” and live in Baker Street. He orders a hot chocolate, admitting: “I find drink orders awkward. In social situations I’m often thinking about what is going on in that person’s mind. It’s like my brain is overheating.” Lightwing was not diagnosed with Asperger’s until he was 16. He grew up in York, the oldest of six children. “I didn’t have a brilliant childhood. There was an emphasis on being social at school and my parents wanted me to be normal.” In X+Y, Nathan’s father dies when he is a child — Lightwing’s real-life father, who is very much alive, has taken it with good humour. “My Dad was frustrated with me when I was young because he is a GP and his job is about empathising with people. He said: ‘Even if you are not interested you should show that you are. That’s the most important skill in life’. For me that is like teaching university maths to a little child.” Today Lightwing can understand his father’s pain but says “as a child he would ask me to do something simple like buy something from the shop for him and I would panic. I know how to ask but if they say something I don’t expect, what do I say next?” His mother, a science teacher, began to research Asperger’s after reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and took him to a specialist. “Being diagnosed meant I didn’t feel I had to try and change. You just have different strengths.” Competitive maths and a teacher spotting his potential also helped. “Everything got better after the competition. I felt more self-respect and part of a community — there were people like me I could relate to better than those in my school and family.” He read maths at Trinity College, Cambridge, which was “much easier than school, socially. I didn’t feel bullied and was free. One problem was that I lost interest in maths a bit.” After his degree he lived in China, where “they are more respectful to academically talented people”, and would have stayed had Google not offered him a job “building cool things to make people think Google is good” — such as developing the 3D museum viewer for company’s Art Project. Were there others at Google with Asperger’s? “Of course. Asperger’s is more common than you think. There are definitely politicians with it.” He describes his disorder as “an extremely different kind of personality. I wouldn’t call it a disability. When you have Asperger’s you are putting on a mask and trying to pretend you are normal but what you are thinking is not normal. “People with autism have polarised emotions. If it gets too much you withdraw from everything. It is called social hangover. There were times at school where I was overloaded. I’d try to run away. If I couldn’t escape I would explode.” His social struggle at Google and school did not come through a lack of willing. “Sometimes I do want to join in with other people but I’m too shy. Sometimes, though, I don’t know what to say when it is not work-related.” Google eventually “became boring”. Now he uses his programming skills in financial arbitrage and betting but becomes evasive when I ask him about it. Does he work to make it better? “It is less ethical than that. I am part of a betting syndicate. It’s secret.” This job suits him because, “In many companies the only way to make money is to rise in the management. I don’t have the ability to do that.” How should we treat those with Asperger’s? “There is too much emphasis on changing people or helping them fit in.” When he was younger, he admits he was violent, biting or kicking his peers and teachers. “That violence should not be punished because generally we are having strong emotions and there is nothing you can do about it. More should be done to avoid these situations. You can’t treat autistic children as though they’re doing something that’s unreasonable because to them it isn’t.” Medication isn’t a solution. “There was a phase where people thought Asperger’s needed to be cured but people with such a focus on systems and patterns probably came up with most inventions in history.” Alcohol helps: “I stop thinking and can say what I want.” When he wants to “act normal” he thinks about “if I have been in a similar situation before and know what to say or how I should act.” If he could wake up one morning and not have Asperger’s, would he want to? “No. I would feel really sad. I might not be good at what I enjoy.” When he is older he would like to have children. “If they had Asperger’s I’d know what to do. I don’t think I’d mind either way, it is just a different way of seeing the world, but I’d want to diagnose it early. It’s not nice going through 15 years of prison.” The maths competition crew still meet up to play poker. Lightwing is happiest doing “computer things and China things”. Going out is, “OK. I used to be afraid but now I have friends who are not Asperger’s and I’m able to.” X+Y is a milestone because, he says, “it is about how there are lots of different kinds of people, how they are valuable, can do great things and be part of society. It shows Asperger’s in a good light but there are comedy elements that make it a film for everyone to enjoy.” Source: Evening Standard
  21. (Not written by me)Where 75% of workers are on the autistic spectrumBy Robbie Wojciechowski21st October 2019Our brains don’t all work the same way. One New York-based software company sees that as a competitive advantage. Rajesh Anandan founded his company Ultranauts (formerly Ultra Testing) with his MIT roommate Art Shectman with one aim: one aim: to prove that neurodiversity and autism could be a competitive advantage in business.“There is an incredible talent pool of adults on the autistic spectrum that has been overlooked for all the wrong reasons,” says 46-year-old Anandan. “People who haven’t had a fair shot to succeed at work, because of workplace and workflow and business practices that aren’t particularly effective for anyone but are especially damaging for anyone who is wired differently.”The New York-based quality engineering start-up is now one of an increasing number of firms looking towards autistic talent. But while programmes at companies including Microsoft and accounting firm EY are small and focused around supporting neurodiverse workers in the office, Ultranauts has redesigned its entire business around neurodiversity, changing hiring efforts to actively recruit individuals on the autism spectrum and developing new workplace practices to effectively manage neurodiverse teams. “We set out to change the blueprint for work, and change how a company could hire, manage and develop talent,” says Anandan.Neurodiversity has risen to the top of the agenda around inclusion at work in recent years, yet it is not a common term. It refers to the range of differences in individual human brain function which can be associated with conditions such as dyslexia, autism and ADHD.Research by the UK’s National Autistic Society (NAS) shows that the figures around employment of people with autism in the UK are still very low. In its survey of 2,000 autistic adults, just 16% were in full-time work, despite 77% of people who were unemployed saying they wanted to work.The barriers to work for people with autism can still be huge, and Richmal Maybank, employer engagement manager at NAS, says many factors contribute to this. “Job descriptions can often have core tick-box behaviours, and can be quite general,” she says. “Forms look for ‘team players’ and ‘staff with great communication skills’ but lack specific information.”Terms like these – or interview questions such as ‘where you see yourself in five years’ – can be too general for people with autism, as many with the condition can find vague questions particularly hard to decipher. Additionally, people can feel uncomfortable disclosing their disability or feel challenged by open-plan workplaces, where they may feel they need to socialise or absorb uncomfortable levels of noise. Five years in, 75% of Ultranauts’ staff are on the autistic spectrum – and one reason for this is its innovative approach to hiring. In other companies, assessing candidates often focuses heavily on communication competencies, which means neurodiverse voices can be excluded. But at Ultranauts there is no interview process and applicants don’t need relevant experience of specific technical skills. “We have adopted an approach to screening job applicants that is much more objective than you’ll find in most places,” says Anandan. Instead of using CVs and interviews, potential employees undergo a basic competency assessment in which they are evaluated against 25 desirable attributes for software testers, such as the ability to learn new systems or take on feedback. Following these initial tests, potential staff undergo a week of working from home fully paid. Potential recruits also know they can choose to work on a DTE (a desired-time equivalent) timetable, meaning they can take on as many hours as they feel comfortable managing, rather than being tied into full-time work.“As a result, we have a talent screening process to take someone who has never done this job and at the end of that process have a 95% degree of confidence… whether people would be great at this,” says Anandan.The competitive advantages of ‘neurodiversity’ Studies by Harvard University and BIMA have shown that embracing and maximising the talents of people who think differently can have huge benefits for a business. Having a neurodiverse workforce has been shown to improve innovation and problem solving, as people see and understand information in a range of different ways. Researchers have also found that accommodations made for neurodiverse staff members such as flexible hours or remote working can benefit neurotypical staff, too.The NAS say they have seen a rise in organisations reaching out to them to find out how they could better recruit autistic talent and neurodiverse workers, especially outside the IT sector. NAS offers suggestions for small changes, such as ensuring every meeting has an agenda. Agendas and similar tools can help neurodiverse staff focus on the relevant information needed and help people plan things in advance, making the meeting more accessible.“The things we suggest are good practice for any company, not just people with autism. They aren’t expensive, and are often easy quick wins,” says Maybank. “Employers need to recognise cultures in their organisation and to understand the unwritten rules of their organisation, to help people navigate that.”Maybank, who has been working with autistic people for the last decade, says she’d like to see more mandatory training for managers around neurodiversity and more buddying programmes to help people create better social links at work. She also feels employers should look at different progression routes for employees who may not want to become managers. But she says increased awareness of neurodiversity has improved understanding in workplaces. “People are becoming way more open about recognising different strands of autistic and neurodiverse behaviour,” she says. “People have a pre-conceived perception of what autism is, but it’s best to ask that person. People may be opposites of each other despite having the same condition.”Tailoring new technologyYet it’s not just increased awareness; remote working and new technologies are also helping to support workers who may previously have struggled to enter the workforce.Workplace tools including instant messaging platform Slack and list-making application Trello have improved communication for staff who may work outside a standard office environment. These tools can have additional benefits for people on the autistic spectrum, who might find things like face-to-face communication difficult.Ultranauts has made use of these technologies, as well as creating its own tools to suit staff needs.“A couples of years ago, a colleague on our team said they wished people came with a user manual,” says Anandan. So that’s exactly what they created, a self-authored guide called a ‘biodex’ which gives colleagues at Ultranauts all the information they need to find the best ways of working with a particular person.Being flexible about workplace set-up and tailoring company behaviours to cater for autistic needs has been a huge success for Ultranauts, which is beginning to share its experiences on best practice with other companies. Anandan says he’s learnt that making a workplace inclusive for neurodiverse colleagues hasn’t added friction or inefficiency, but allowed people who have largely been ignored by society to show their true talents. “We’ve shown over and over… that we’ve delivered results better because of the diversity of our team,” he says.Source: BBC Worklife 101
  22. (Not written by me) Brain power: how government can make the most of neurodiversity From long-standing initiatives in the intelligence services to new staff networks, training and work experience, the civil service is waking up to the benefits of a more neurodiverse workforce. Tamsin Rutter reports on what is being done – and what more is to come "When you’ve met one person with autism,” says civil servant Tia Shafee, “you’ve met one person with autism.” In a workplace setting, this means that every person with autism – or indeed other neurological differences – will require different levels and types of support, and will be able to offer different strengths. It also speaks to the importance of empowering all people to share their experiences, and of avoiding assumptions. As the civil service steps up its efforts to become the UK’s “most inclusive employer” by 2020, it has turned its sights to neurodiversity – which Shafee describes as being “about people who think and function differently, because neurodivergent individuals’ brains are wired slightly differently from the norm. It is part of the natural variation in human brains”. Shafee recently joined the Civil Service Disability Inclusion Team, which sits in the Cabinet Office and responds to the priorities of disability champion and Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam. On neurodiversity, these priorities include making the workplace adjustment service as user-friendly as possible; expanding the Autism Exchange Programme to give young autistic people experience working in government; and organising a series of events with KPMG to share cross-sector best practice on disability, including a session planned for October on neurodiversity. Shafee, who uses the pronouns they/them, also set up the Public Sector Neurodiversity Network in February 2017. Diagnosed with autism at 19, they went on to join the Fast Stream and founded the network after being a member of a couple of different departmental disability networks that didn’t feel quite right. “They are brilliant organisations, they do some really good stuff for disabled people,” Shafee says. “But one thing I found was it just wasn’t covering the different needs and community groups that neurodivergent people like myself were finding. “If your disability network is still focusing on getting access to rooms... or recognising mental health, that’s an incredibly vital job but it isn’t necessarily hitting the more complex managerial needs that a line manager managing someone with dyspraxia or autism or ADHD might find.” Shafee, for example, doesn’t work well with changes to their routine at short notice, so has asked to be told a week in advance if they will be required to travel to another office. They struggle with identifying their own behaviours and matching them to civil service competencies. “It takes particular awareness of that from my line manager to work with me to help me understand how I fit in that competency framework, how I’m phrasing things, how I can respond to it,” Shafee says. They also frequently work while wearing a headset (to counter noise sensitivity), use lilac paper (to counter light sensitivity), and have been given a laptop with software to tint the screen and do text-to-speech (to help with information processing). Sometimes they take advantage of the civil service practice to guarantee an interview to disabled job applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a role. The network, which now has more than 170 members, issues a quarterly newsletter with stories from neurodivergent people sharing their experiences and the adjustments they have in place, and organises events to raise awareness. It plans to link up with the newly created Civil Service Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Network, which encourages senior officials affected by these conditions to become role models and provides support and mentoring opportunities. Eventually, Shafee wants to be able to provide resources for neurodivergent staff and their managers, though not by duplicating the “fantastic” resources already out there, such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ online Autism and Neurodiversity Toolkit for staff and managers. ‘Dull uniformity would destroy us’ Rupert McNeil, chief people officer, supports Shafee’s network, and spoke at its inaugural event. He says it’s his job “to ensure that we are both attracting diverse talent and effectively utilising the skills of our existing staff”. “That’s why I am encouraging the civil service to focus on the strengths that neurodiversity can bring to an organisation,” he adds. “For example, people with dyslexia often possess advanced problem-solving skills and can be highly innovative, while many people with autism have enhanced perceptual functions and a keen eye for detail.” Some areas of government are further ahead on this than others: the intelligence services, for example, have long been known to promote neurodiversity to meet specific skills needs. In 2016, then- GCHQ director Robert Hannigan said his organisation had many staff on the autistic spectrum, describing them as “precious assets and essential to our work of keeping the country safe”. He added: “To do our job, which is solving some of the hardest technology problems the world faces for security reasons, we need all talents and we need people who dare to think differently and be different… dull uniformity would completely destroy us.” Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, in a recent report on diversity in the UK intelligence community, highlighted best practice at GCHQ, MI5 and SIS (MI6) in recruiting and supporting disabled staff. It said GCHQ and SIS have launched “a comprehensive Neurodiversity Service, offering a range of support to GCHQ staff with dyslexia, dyspraxia or [an] autistic spectrum condition”, which has also been offered to MI5. The three agencies this year began participating in a programme to support disabled people into leadership positions, and they all run workshops on issues such as autism and Asperger syndrome, deaf awareness and visual awareness. The committee also said the intelligence agencies often enlist the support of members of their disability networks to test new IT infrastructure, something it argued should become common practice across the UK government intelligence community. A more coherent approach will enable individuals to hot desk or work at other sites or overseas, instead of relying on ad-hoc efforts to adapt and personalise systems, it said. The right opportunity Other parts of the civil service are also finding new ways to support neurodiverse staff. At the Home Office, employees with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism run “train-the-trainer” workshops for line managers to help them better understand these conditions. HM Revenue & Customs has also run workshops on adapting recruitment processes and reasonable adjustments, and has consulted autistic people on the design and layout of the regional hubs staff will be moving into over the next few years. The Fast Stream has strong links with the workplace adjustment team, and also invites disabled candidates to visit its assessment centre prior to the date of their interview, which can help alleviate anxieties sometimes felt by people with neurodivergent conditions. Many departments take part in the Autism Exchange Programme, run by charity Ambitious About Autism, which aims to increase employment opportunities for autistic adults, just 16% of whom have full-time paid jobs in the UK. The programme was initiated in 2015 with HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions and a cohort of five young autistic people. It has since expanded, with 22 people doing three-week paid work experience placements in eight different departments this summer. Deutsche Bank, Santander, and other companies including in the professional services, marketing and advertising sectors now also offer work experience through the scheme. Alison Worsley, the charity’s director of external affairs, says the breadth of roles available in the civil service make it a particularly good option for matching up the various skills of participants with employers’ needs. Autistic people can make great employees. Although she says it’s important not to generalise, Worsley says they’re often very loyal because they often don’t like change. Some find routine or repetitive tasks stimulating, while others bring different perspectives to bear when problem-solving. “It’s about finding the right opportunity for the right person,” says Worsley, which is “why work experience can be so beneficial”. She also says that neurodiversity is something that “people across the board have tackled least in terms of diversity”, and schemes like this one give the civil service a chance to become more neurodiverse. Part of it is about giving people the confidence to disclose protected characteristics and making them more aware of the adjustments available to them. The charity also offers training for line managers as part of the scheme. For Amy Walker, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s aged 12, the Autism Exchange Programme was a perfect opportunity. She wants to join the civil service: “I have always had a ‘special interest’, as we say in the autism world, in politics, legislation, government policy,” she says. But Walker has previously tried applying for Whitehall jobs including the Fast Stream, and says she’s sometimes tripped up by the situational judgment questions that are looking for evidence of flexibility and adaptability – not usually core strengths for autistic people. She plans to keep trying, and had the chance to get tips and employability training from a Fast Stream psychologist during the two-week placement she did at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last year. She spent the two weeks researching the nuclear industry and putting together a briefing document for civil servants new to BEIS’s nuclear commercial team. The experience helped her build confidence, and attracted her to the culture of the civil service, which is “easier to read” than some other workplaces. There are barriers to employment for Walker – some social interactions cause anxiety and “it takes me longer to adapt to new situations” – but these are counterbalanced by her analytical, admin, data and IT skills, she says. With organisations like the civil service waking up to the opportunities of a more neurodiverse workforce, Walker is optimistic that things will get easier for autistic jobseekers. She’s even developed a website, neurodiversityworks.uk, to collate and disseminate opportunities for neurodivergent people. ‘Embrace difference’ David Buck, a member of the One Team Government movement who works at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (which has launched a neurodiversity staff network of its own), believes the civil service has come a long way since he joined in 2000. Back then his manager, “unbeknownst to me at the time, had an objective to improve my spelling”, Buck says. His manager didn’t know that he was dyslexic. “What can I say… they didn’t do well on that objective.” Buck remembers disclosing his dyslexia and his type 2 bipolar disorder at the same time. “I was advised not to mention it, not to bring it up,” he says. “And for me, at that time this was the right thing, not just because of the prevailing culture of the civil service at the time – which reflected how things were in 2000 – but also for me personally. It meant that I could just get on with things.” It had only been a few years since Buck’s condition led to him being hospitalised three times while at university. In around 2010, he began to tell more people at work, opening up first to close colleagues and eventually getting to the point where, “I don’t mind chatting about what happened to me and my journey”, he says, adding that it was “a massive relief”. Buck joined Defra’s mental health staff network, Break the Stigma, where he volunteers as a “buddy” for people who need support. He has also now starting ticking “the diversity box on the internal staff system”, something which – like many people with disabilities – he avoided doing for a long time. Buck says the civil service’s commitment to diversity can only be a good thing, but he fears that an over-concentration on measurements and targets may sideline real efforts to make change. “It seems to be simple to me – just embrace difference, look for it, actively seek it out, listen to it, and keep working out what privileges you have,” he says. He adds that the “pace of work in the civil service can be quite astounding”, making it difficult for neurodivergent people to settle, but also that there are “thousands of people out there to support you”. Buck recently responded to a call from Shafee’s network to lead a session on neurodiversity for an audience of Fast Streamers. “I’ll be talking about difference, about how we’re all individuals and how the more comfortable we can get in explaining our difference the better,” he says. “Understanding and appreciating different people’s perspectives is what makes a good civil servant.” Source: Civil Service World
  23. (Not written by me) What is it like to work with Asperger’s? Jonathan, 25, who is a desktop support engineer at an insurance company in the City of London, has Asperger’s syndrome I have worked at my current company for two years, since graduating with a degree in business computing from Brunel University London. I had an interview for a job at a different organisation but it was a very formal panel and that was hard, as I can feel quite anxious and worried if there are multiple people watching and listening to me and I have to interact with groups at once. I know that my eye contact isn’t always the best and having to make eye contact with lots of people at the same time can be challenging. "I have a mentor as well as a specialist therapist who works with people with Asperger’s and helps me with any issues I face" Someone at my university mentioned Aspierations was helping to link people who have Asperger’s syndrome (AS) with employers, so I looked it up and made contact with the team. Aspierations responded quickly. I met them and they helped with mock interviews and providing tips for interviews, which was really helpful. I was then set up with a one-to-one interview with the hiring manager at my current company. I was given very clear instructions on how to get to the office, including a picture of the building, and what to expect at the interview. The interview started off very informally, with the hiring manager asking me how my journey had been, which helped me relax. He then gave me lots of technical skills questions to answer, which suited me as this is what I like most about my job. Since starting work, my employers have been very supportive. For example, I have a mentor as well as a specialist therapist who works with people with Asperger’s and helps me with any personal or workplace issues I might face. We’ve recently had a big transformation at work, as we used to have four offices in close proximity to each other but last December we moved into one building in Aldgate, in the City of London, occupying the top eight floors. Previously I had been supporting about 100 users in one of the offices and now I’m supporting more than double that. Although we all moved just a few months ago, I am still adjusting to the new offices. I think the adjustment is perhaps taking me a bit longer than other people. "I would like to see more people with AS in the workplace. We need more employers to realise that we have lots to offer" If someone has an IT issue that can’t be resolved by our remote service desk, I will go and fix it. A good day for me is when you come in, work from 09:00 to 17:30 to resolve all the tickets (IT queries – often I manage more tickets than the others on the team) and have a few conversations with colleagues, and then leave the office having accomplished your tasks. Sometimes I can get stressed, such as with ad hoc queries, if people come up to my desk and tell me they’ve got a problem. Multi-tasking is challenging for me, but I’ve been given some Post-its on which I can write a note to myself, which means I can carry on with what I’m doing and then deal with the new issue afterwards. Also I used to get a bit anxious if I was reading messages on my work phone handset on the train coming into work or at the weekend, so now I leave my handset and laptop in the office so that I have a separation between home and work. I did a presentation when I first joined the company. It was organised by Aspierations and held at Lloyd’s. It was shared on LinkedIn. I’ve also done another event and written an article that was shared on my company’s intranet. It means that lots people at work know about my condition, which is good, but I would like to see more people with AS in the workplace. We need more employers to realise that we have lots to offer. One organisation helping those on the spectrum into work The experience of Laurel Herman’s son with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) led her to found Aspierations, the organisation that helped support Jonathan into his job. Ms Herman’s son was diagnosed with the condition as an adult. As Ms Herman saw more and more high-achieving people on the autistic spectrum not succeeding in the workplace, she was convinced to help them. “We help with things like conversation technique, interview technique – all the things over and above their education to make them business-ready,” says Ms Herman. “And we help them with career progression because once they get in they don’t progress.” Aspierations is also building an alliance of AS-fit-and-friendly employers by teaming up with businesses such as the National Grid, BAE Systems and Linklaters to support neurodiversity in the workforce. “We’re helping them to attract, recruit, develop to potential, support and retain their autistic talent,” says Ms Herman. Additionally Aspierations organises awareness events for businesses, and provides training and consultancy on recruitment and preparing workplaces for neurodivergent employees. Ms Herman says it is crucial to remember that there benefits on both sides when people with AS are brought into an organisation. For the individual there is a feeling of self-worth; for the business, it is about bringing in talent with a fresh approach. She says: “If you’ve always got the same people, you’re just doing the same thing. But if you’ve got people with different ways of thinking, which is what neurodiversity is, you will get real innovation and a challenge to the status quo.” Full names have been withheld at the interviewee’s requestSource: Telegraph
  • Create New...