I don’t know if any of you have been watching the series ‘Employable Me’ on BBC Two. I’d been watching some of the episodes on Iplayer whenever I can, because of my work schedules. The program itself follows people with disabilities and learning difficulties who are trying to get into the world of work across the UK. They are offered help by employers, counsellors and even their own families. But the one thing that got my attention overall was the two individuals on the show with ASD. The first was 26-year-old Alan, who has high functioning Autism, the second was 46-year-old Erica, with Asperger’s Syndrome. Alan was the one who had me going, he went for a work placement at the energy company E-on.
During his placement there, Alan demonstrated every single skill an Aspie processes, the ability to spot patterns and to be precise and acute, to a high point that would match anyone else. So, the company gave him a exercise, where he was too gather data on customer energy use and then report it to his higher management in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. The program showed him do this exceptional well, and even though the HR people didn’t say it, but you could see that they were impressed by his work. They couldn’t offer him a job there and then, but a few months down the line, employed him in their accounts department, where they happily say, he’s doing quite well.
Alan, if your reading this, very well done for achieving this brilliant step in your life, and I wish you many years of success to come. Erica, was the next person on the programme. She has high functioning Autism, commonly known as Asperger’s. Same as myself. She sadly didn’t have as much luck as Alan did, not at first anyway. She sent off application after application, and become very flustered when faced with operating a computer. But the one thing that flustered me the most was that Erica did get offered a month’s work placement at M and S; but at the end, when interviewing one of the managers at the branch. They agreed to take Erica on, but made the comment that in time she would speed up.
That manager couldn’t have made a worse statement if you tried. As anyone with Autism, or knows someone who lives with it will know. Autistic people have one speed. Once we’ve reached it, we can’t go over it, or under it. I will be interested to see if Erica manages to remain in employment there for a long period of time. But I do wish her the very best of luck, and congratulations in getting the job in the first place. As many people with Autism will tell you, finding work, is a minefi
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Writer, author and Workplace Aspie Veteran.