I’ve been employed by 12D for six months since
the 7th of August, since I started, it’s quite a good role, it’s a varied role. It’s a mixture
of customer service and administration there’s technical elements in their as well. My background
is I.T. The key findings in terms of employment is
that 45% of this group are employed compared to a national employment rate of 95%. Now
some people may be surprised that even 45% have employment, but when we drilled down
underneath that number we find that the majority are in part time work or even casual work.
And also we found that many who did have work were working way below what their qualifications
would indicate they were capable of. Employers ought to employ somebody who has
Asperger’s or high functioning autism because they are as competent as any other person
an employer may be considering in terms of doing the job, and in addition they bring
particular strengths such as their ability to provide high quality and consistent output.
They’re very productive and reliable. They like to follow structures; they like to get
it right. One day I can be doing something technical
and another day I might be processing orders and I also enjoy speaking to customers over
the phone. I don’t see customers face to face but I talk to them over the phone and by email.
It’s helped to bring my skills to the table and experiences into the role and allowed
me to consolidate my skills and experiences, also bringing my skills into the role has
helped 12D to achieve their business objectives. The key strategies that made this work were
getting Asperger’s employment specialist such as ASCapable involved from the beginning.
Even before we put the job out they helped with the interview process. What questions
we should be asking and also interview techniques- there are many other things we did as well
didn’t we. We provided pre-employment training so to
prepare the candidate for the job for things like communication skills and social skills.
Things that aren’t necessarily taught anywhere else. We also provided, with the consent of
Cameron, training for the team. Awareness training; to provide them with an understanding
of what to expect working alongside someone with Asperger’s.
That was really helpful everyone then had an idea of what he was going through and could
make those adjustments as time went on. That was much better than everybody being kept
in the dark and having no idea. We made sure all the procedures and everything
he was undertaking was written down. He also learns quite well using visual aids so we
used a lot of visual materials like flow charts and timetables, thing like that, to help him
to understand his role. When we’re talking about the sort of supports
we might have at work the very first thing you might start to think about and we talk
about this when we do training for employment groups is to not start thinking from the deficit
but to think from a strengths point of view. Increasingly, people on the spectrum are increasingly
recognised as having fantastic strengths when it comes to employment. Whether it’s the ability
to concentrate over long periods of time to see through detailed pieces of work. And it’s
been quite exciting to hear companies specialising in employing people on the spectrum because
they are recognising those skills. If any employer can start from that strengths point
of view and look at what people can bring then things will be much better from the beginning.
There are three types of preparation you can do: one of which is preparing the person for
their employment, letting them know about the workplace, letting them know about the
way the workplace runs the rules which is obvious, the hidden rules about how the workplace
runs. There is also preparing the workplace environment,
whether that means developing an office space that reduces distractions- is friendly from
a sensory point of view-whether it helps them to structure their work and manage their time
in a particular way and the third thing is preparing others in that environment for this
person, so again some peer education around the strengths of the person but also some
of the differences and how to manage some of those situations, just when you’re having
lunch and the conversation may not be flowing, how to support that or not to worry so much
about that. How to leave somebody to have some quiet time so they can successfully return
to work. I think it’s good to think of a broad range of strategies but definitely think about
those strengths right from the beginning. The message I would send other employers who
are looking at employing some body with Asperger’s would be to not be afraid, we were afraid
at the beginning, there were risks involved that we perceived, however if you get the
right support and a nice open environment to work with some of these employees can be
the best employees you’ll ever have. They can be loyal, hardworking, and there’s so
many extra benefits we never foresaw at the beginning of the whole project. Get professional
help and you’ll be fine.