World Autism Awareness Week 2021
29th March - 4th April
Chief People & Transformation Officer
the biggest barrier that autistic people face when trying to secure employment is recruitment processes that are inaccessible, meaning this pool of highly skilled untapped talent is ruled out of securing a job
Did you know that one in a hundred people are on the Autistic Spectrum?
In fact, there are around 700,000 adults and children in the UK who are autistic, meaning that you probably know someone with autism even though you may not realise it – a friend, neighbour, colleague or family member.
This week we celebrate World Autism Awareness Week. The United Nations also recognise the 2nd of April as World Autism Awareness Day. This is a subject really close to my heart. My little boy Charley is a bright, funny, bit wild sometimes 10 year old, who loves animals, video games and Harry Potter. He is also autistic.
Charley has high functioning autism which means he is aware that he is autistic, and he then spends his days trying to fit in and appear to be ‘normal’ – what ever that is – leading him to being constantly anxious and exhausted. I want to share with you why being neurodiverse is a superpower. When Charley was diagnosed, the psychologist sat down with me and explained it really clearly…
…Charley has an Apple brain in a Microsoft world.
Those are the words she said that meant I suddenly understood everything. Why he has meltdowns, why he is ‘triggered’ and why he sees the world differently to me.
The ONS data shows that only 22% of autistic people are in employment. Help change this.
Recently I became a Business Ambassador for Ambitious about Autism, a charity which helps employers to be better educated around employing neurodiverse young people. Watch this space as we develop this partnership to help educate and to play our part in removing the stigma that still exists. One of the barriers to employment for autistic young people is available and relevant work experience. The partnership between Enginuity and Ambitious about Autism will help to unblock some of the obstacles in our sector and support more young neurodiverse people to experience the world of work.
But the biggest barrier that autistic people face when trying to secure employment is recruitment processes that are inaccessible, meaning this pool of highly skilled untapped talent is ruled out of securing a job.
An article published in 2005 by Fabian Acker, shared some astonishing research. Fathers and grandfathers of children on the Autistic Spectrum are twice as likely to be engineers, compared with the general population. An early study found that of almost 1,000 families who were members of the National Autistic Society in the UK, 21.2 per cent of the grandfathers of children with Autism worked in the field of engineering, compared with only 10 per cent of grandfathers of children with different neurological conditions.
The article lends itself to the theme around ‘superpowers’ and talks about neurodiverse young people can deal more easily with a clearly understood set of laws, such as those of maths, physics or engineering, but cannot easily manage social situations. This means that there are a plethora of roles and careers within the Engineering profession that naturally suit, but hiring processes ask for ‘good communication skills; or ‘good team player’ and this can immediately rule out some exceptional talent.
Maybe one thing you can pledge to do this week is to review your recruitment process. Chances are your workforce is already benefiting from some Apple thinking, you just don’t know about it. Be an employer that celebrates neuro-diversity, through action, rather than words.
- Henry Cavendish –Scientist& discoverer of Hydrogen
- Charles Darwin –Naturalist, Geologist, and Biologist
- Paul Dirac –Physicist
- Albert Einstein –Scientist & Mathematician
- Bobby Fischer –Chess Grandmaster
- Bill Gates –Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation
- Temple Grandin –Animal Scientist
- Steve Jobs –Former CEO of Apple
- Alfred Kinsey –Sexologist & Biologist
- Barbara McClintock –Scientist and Cytogeneticist
- Sir Isaac Newton –Mathematician, Astronomer, & Physicist
- Satoshi Tajiri –Creator of Nintendo’s Pokémon
- Nikola Tesla –Inventor
- Alan Turing –Mathematician
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