Autism: Future Employment Short Documentary

We wanted the employers to share their
experience of employing somebody with autism. We wanted the support networks to show
what was on offer to employers, and then the entrepreneur panel – the business
owners – was about, if generic employment doesn’t work for you then you can go do
your own thing and do what does work for you. People need to know what autistic people are. People don’t know what autism is, so there’s no use saying “we want autistic people, we want autism”, but you don’t even know what it is. Listening to autistic people will enable
employers to build infrastructure, to build policy, to deliver the correct
training about what autistic people need and what benefits they can bring to the
table instead of what deficits they are. One of the things that’s clear is
that actually, there’s not really a autism friendly and a typical friendly
thing of a business and the benefits that we’ve implemented in our business,
for people on the spectrum, have actually benefited the whole business. We have a lot of students on the Game Art course that are on the spectrum, and they struggle once they finish their degree to find work and get employers to think
differently about taking somebody on that’s on the spectrum. By understanding how neurodiverse people work it’s also helped us to understand and face how
‘typical’ people work as well. Some people want to make sure that the individuals that currently work for them are more included and we’re getting the best out
of of those individuals. Other people are looking for inclusive hiring processes,
so they want to actually purposefully go out there and hire artistic talent. The way in which employers select people for jobs is so deeply flawed. A blind recruitment process is something that’s
been coming up more and more now in some industries. Some of the larger
organisations such as civil service are using this and it alleviates the scoring
system that some autistics do struggle to match. A test of social interaction
skills in a highly stressed, unstructured environment. How on earth is not supposed to tell you what does somebody be a good data analyst? There’s this ethos that if you
can talk about what you can do you’re going to get the job over someone
who can show you what you can do and really it should be the people who can
show you what to do. They’re really not the best way to determine if an autistic
person is capable of doing the job or not. A lot of them will fail or not get the job get the job just because they fail at doing the interview. So when you want to employ somebody what you need to think of is – what are you looking
for? What cognitive skills are you’re looking for? What technical skills are you looking
for? – and you test for those. And that’s exactly what we do. Hopefully if we can get more businesses that are doing like-minded things then we can have new
recruits, new people with autism that have actually had previous good
experiences and therefore we’re not trying to break down those barriers but
we’re actually all on the same page with the work that we’re doing. I really think that employers should be thinking about young people and taking them on. I think
it’s a brilliant opportunity for them, it gives them a disability confident badge. From a business point of view we’ve got this pool of untapped awesomeness that we can just pull upon and the standard work has gone up. To see more autistic people employed would be a good start. To basically just spread awareness and so that more more people know about the
things that they need to take into consideration. You want to improve your
business, you want to get better results, you want to make your business more
profitable and more successful – make it more neurodiverse. People get really scared when they look at the infrastructure that needs to change
because of the money that’s attached to it but when people look at autism friendliness and they look at their awful workplace
and realise how autistic unfriendly it is – attitudes cost nothing. They cost
nothing, and to be autistic friendly begins with cultural and attitude
changes because they don’t cost a thing and they go a long way to create safe,
open environments. Who wouldn’t want a company that has loyal employees, that retains them, that makes you money and promotes honesty positivity and
makes people better managers, it makes your companies better. I don’t
know anybody that wouldn’t want that for their businesses and this is what we’re
hearing today and this isn’t just because somebody sat there I thought this would be a nice thing to say, this is based on real life, it’s based on
research it’s how we’ve excluded before and how going forward we are going to
include. Certainly what needs to happen is something at quite a high level and it’s a cultural shift within those organisations. My experience has been so
far sadly that quite often in employment the cavalry is only called in when
something goes wrong, so when somebody has has overstepped a boundary or their
performance has not been up to scratch. It is possible to be in employment and
still be on the autistic spectrum but also it may also be important to
actually spread awareness of the fact that support can also be very essential. Seeking that extra external support has been critical and there’s
lots of it available so that would be my advice. I think what people are not aware of, which came through in the panel questions today is
all the support that’s out there from Remploy, from Access to Work – loads of
other providers – and the fact that it does make people better managers
generally, all around. Conferences like this help break the
barriers between neurotypicals and autistic people. The understanding of
autism is not known. It’s only recently become a thing. One in a hundred people
in the UK have autism and we need to support those people. We can share this. I mean, I I’ve set this up, it’s been stressful but it’s
fairly straightforward, the people could take this away and go and copy the
format in their own location whether that be Chester or just up the road in
Rhyl or Manchester, Liverpool, wherever. Copy it and get as many employers to
start thinking differently about changing what they do. And it’s about
changing the environment not the person. If it isn’t for my family I wouldn’t have
been able to cope, in any environment. It is about that family support as
well and almost taking the fear away. There’s one of me in each of the
counties in North Wales and I’d like to change the whole county overnight but
unfortunately I need the support of quite a few people. As great as a project
Engage to Change is, unfortunately after this project finishes there might
be some young people left going back to the same position they began with before Engage to Change. I would like to see something changed with that, I would ever see them in sustained employment and again this goes back to
evaluation in Cardiff University, if we can take that learning into Welsh
Government hopefully that will change. I think what struck me was how diverse our panelists were. Each one’s had their own unique journey into self-employment.
They all do very different things but the message that came through loud and
clear from all of them was if you’re passionate about something and you have the focus and the drive to do it then self-employment can be the way and
there’s nothing that should get in the way of you being successful if you
really care and work hard enough. There’s a real pragmatic resourcefulness about some autistic people, we just go “I need to earn some money I can’t do it there,
where shall I do it? I’ll have a go at this.” For some people they are able
to just go for it. They have an idea, they need to earn some money, they don’t quite know how to do it in any other way, maybe traditional employment which
sometimes doesn’t always suit autistic people and they’ve just gone for it. Every autistic person has an ability, we have a special ability that only us can do. One thing that only we can do ourselves. Everyone’s got their abilities, so why is it
called disability? Why not different abilities or why not just
different people? The more we talk about something the better understanding we all have. We see this is a stepping stone into something that could build legs and grow and we want to do that. We’ve forever been learning what it is to be autistic through medical narratives, from your
doctor or from Rainman or from lots of other stereotypes, but I want to go to my
community. I want to say “I’m autistic are you autistic too? Do you do this too? Do you cope like that too? Cool. There are a number of steps. Obviously as a politician I think in that context at a UK level changes are needed in the DWP. We still need to give autism a statutory identity in Wales, we still need to give people
rights with a rights based approach in Wales. I think it’s about the autistic
community gaining the strength to believe that they have every right to be
employed as everyone else and not relying on what professionals tell them. This is a great moment in time, we’ve got an opportunity because of these kinds of
conversations to really make a difference to the way that people with
autism are viewed and we have an opportunity whilst we’re having these
conversations to look at the skills and abilities that autistic people can bring
to a workplace, but it can be scary and I understand that. Maybe it’s the first
time that they employ somebody who is autistic and they don’t really know what
to do or who to go to for support. Quite often there’s some difficulties
around terminology and what to say, nobody wants to say the wrong thing,
but it’s knowing and that’s why this kind of event is really useful, it’s
knowing who to go to so they can hold their hand and they can actually
get you the right information, the right support that you need.

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