Max, a writer and Disability Gamechanger, writes about the challenges he faces finding employment as a person with autism.
I choose to fight for the voices of others on the autistic spectrum. Through my own efforts to find work and my writing, I aim to show that those on the autistic spectrum can play an important role in the workplace and indeed, society.
As someone who has a deep passion for social issues and strongly believes in the concept of society, I want to contribute to society through employment. And yes, I do realise that means paying taxes!
All I need is a bit of patience
Along my personal journey, there have been many positive experiences as well as challenges and people who have believed in me. I recently undertook a placement at a very inclusive and welcoming PR marketing agency in Barry, Wales. Here I was given the patience and understanding to build my confidence and work at my own speed. I am also working part-time with an education technology start-up to help develop kids and adults digital skills.
The main barrier for me in the past, and one which I still sometime face has been interviews. I often struggle to express all my strengths in the pressurised situation that is a job interview, and as a result I feel that employers only see my anxiety.
Though I recognise that verbal communications skills are important in marketing and any other employment sector, I know that once I settle into an environment I can achieve anything I set my mind to! All I need is a bit of patience.
One of the biggest impacts that such barriers have had on me are feelings of isolation and loneliness. I am sure these are feelings which are shared by many others in the disabled community.
Everybody has value to add
To achieve progress, I believe there should be a greater focus from employers on what disabled people can do, not what they may find difficult at first. Just as everyone has their own weaknesses, everybody has value they can add to a team.
Creating an environment where all abilities thrive, enabling a wide range of talent, is key. Similarly, creating interview processes which are flexible and allow this talent to shine, I believe can be a positive step forward.
Take those with autism, for example. We are creative, focused and have attention to detail. These are all positive traits which can be valuable within a team.
By creating more diverse teams, this means that more organisations will have the ability to represent their customers and society. Surely, this is something we can all agree is a good thing.
It is time that we focus on ability, not disability.
Half of disabled people feel excluded from society and many say prejudicial attitudes haven’t improved in decades.
We know there is still work to do until all disabled people enjoy equality and fairness, so we all need to work together to change society for the better.
There’s something everyone can do to be a Disability Gamechanger so get involved with the campaign today to end this inequality.