Wow, what a month I’ve had during April. Autism in work has been a huge focus of my time outside of my day job. Earlier in the month I attended the official launch of a new charity, AutismForward, which was a great chance to meet colleagues from a variety of organisations interested in this subject. http://www.autismforward.org.uk/
April also saw the launch of this years recruitment round for two UK Autism specific programmes, one from Proctor & Gamble in Reading, and another with Deutsche bank.
During the last week of the month I was lucky enough to visit Seattle in the US, to attend the Autism in work conference hosted by Microsoft, in their beautiful offices, in a beautiful city. The conference was hosted by a number of corporate sponsors who are all focussed on improving the opportunities for people on the Autism spectrum to find and keep rewarding work. It was very inspirational, and I would encourage you to follow their respective web sites, to see the great work they are doing. This included:
- Microsoft themselves have an Autism Hiring Program, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/inside-microsoft/cross-disability/hiring.aspx
- SAP also have an Autism at Work programme, https://www.sap.com/corporate/en/company/diversity/differently-abled.html
- Ford also has a specifc programme, https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/news/2016/05/25/individuals-with-autism-can-get-work-experience-at-ford-through-.html
- Also showcased was the opportunities and work in this area by JP Morgan, https://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/news/insights/jmahoney-autism-at-work-program.htm
What was also both impressive and inspiring was the fact that there were over 150 people in the conference room for two days discussing all aspects of how we can develop and imp[rove the employment prospects and outcomes for people on the Autism spectrum. There were also so may great case studies, possibly the most inspiring was Tom the COO of RisingTideCar wash, who gave an impassioned description of running a business which is 85% staffed by autistic colleagues, and how it was more efficient, and more safe, than all his competitors. http://risingtidecarwash.com/
Rising Tide Car Wash – Video Results
It was also fascinating, and inspiring, to hear American TV personality Holly Peete talk about her experiences of bring up her Autistic son Rodney, and how he was defying initial diagnoses, and has found work. They have actually written a number of books about their family, and now have a reality TV series about their life, which is bringing the reality of Autism to a wide range of US audiences. https://uk.video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrIRhZMvu1aWXkAgRd3Bwx.;_ylu=X3oDMTByZmVxM3N0BGNvbG8DaXIyBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=Meet+the+Peetes&fr=yhs-iry-fullyhosted_011&hspart=iry&hsimp=yhs-fullyhosted_011
The conference also involved a whole day focussed on the academic community, and other researchers who shared the work that they are involved in – which all involved different aspects of research aspects of the challenges of Autism in work. It was amazing to see the very many different perspectives of the other researchers, including medics, psychiatrists, speech therapists, and organisational experts.