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Concluding Autism Acceptance Week 2023

by Lucy Hilary

This week Barbour ABI have

I just wanted to personally say thank you to all those who have followed my vlogs and videos over autism acceptance week.

I especially wanted to thank the marketing team at Barbour including Kate Perrin and Stuart Edmonson for allowing me to use the team to raise acceptance and awareness. I also wanted to say a massive thanks to Ellie Rourke and Harry Smith for helping create the videos and editing the content. I will forever be truly grateful.

I really hope you have learnt something on how to accommodate autistic people in the workplace by simply being more inclusive overall.

I also wanted to let you all know something.

It is OK to not know everything or get things wrong sometimes. None of us are perfect. As I was diagnosed it took me a long time to accept being autistic. Not because I was ashamed, far from it. However, it took me a long time to ask for help and admit to myself that there are certain things I just can’t do.

I will never judge someone who is trying to understand autism for using an out of date term or saying the wrong thing. I will correct and educate where required but I am more keen for engagement to start conversations and not for lack of engagement for fear of saying the wrong thing. The more I grow into my diagnosis and learn about it, the more I am able to advocate for myself.

Be mindful you may have autistic people working for you right now that just do not know how to tell you. They may be afraid to tell you and ask for help. They may feel their needs are embarrassing or an inconvenience, and may worry saying something may cause them to be treated unfairly.

I worked for 16 years without a diagnosis and I personally have decided for me it is easier to just be honest. It’s not hard for me to be honest because my career pre-diagnosis was hampered by a lack of accommodation and understanding.

I work for an employer who listens, makes time for me, makes me feel included within a team, provides a culture of acceptance and clear boundaries or what behaviour is accepted. As an autistic person, it is sometimes very hard to verbalise my needs. I know what I want to say but when I am trying to say it, it is like someone else is speaking and then I get frustrated that what I am trying to say is being lost. However, my manager and myself have developed an honest and open line of communication. It means he listens to me without judgement, with no fear of consequence, patience and will try to navigate what I am saying in order to come up with a solution.

The best approach when communicating with an autistic person is to ask their communication preference. Do they prefer speaking on the phone, email or face to face. I can tell you as an autistic person a lot of my energy (90%) is spent pretending to be ‘like everyone else’ also known as masking, so other people are more comfortable in my presence.

Therefore, when people listen to my needs and accommodate them it just makes me feel like a human being. It makes me feel like I matter. Communication such as ‘you don’t need to answer now, have a think about it.’ or ‘I was planning a meeting at this time with this person about this, would this be OK with you?’ This is what being inclusive is.

Small things to others make a massive difference to me. I would be literally disabled if I didn’t have noise cancelling headphones. I would not be able to work, I would not even be able to be in the office. No accommodation costs any extra money and most are already company wide so everyone can have them. This makes me feel less isolated. The accommodations you can make for neurodivergent people would actually benefit all employees.

Changing the way you phrase things, being aware of harsh lighting, hot desking, lack of direction. It’s about creating an inclusive culture. Embracing differences and not making accommodations obvious.

Please also don’t forget. The autistic child of today will one day be an autistic adult that wants a job and independence.

Autism acceptance week is now over, but being autistic does not stop for me. Let’s keep the conversation going. You can:

On these pages I vlog and blog about late diagnosis, tips for recharging and also general information about autism.

Thanks Again,
Lucy

About the author

Picture of Lucy Hilary

Lucy Hilary

Researcher at Barbour ABI

Lucy has worked at Barbour ABI as a Telephone researcher for 18 months. Prior to this role Lucy worked in Telecommunications on the operational and connective side for a total of 10 years.

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