World Autism Acceptance Week – Creating an inclusive environment
This week is World Autism Acceptance Week (28 March – 3 April) and United Nations designated World Autism Awareness Day (2 April).
Marking its diamond 60th year, the National Autistic Society changed the name of Autism Awareness Week to Autism Acceptance Week recognising that there is now a more widespread awareness of the condition. The name change is also in response to what autistic people say they want society to focus on; accepting and accommodating autism.
Linking with this, for the last two years, World Autism Awareness Day has aimed to highlight inclusion in education and the workplace.
Sam’s new job
28-year-old Sam who lives in Bristol, is an autistic man who is keen to work. He has previous experience of helping other autistic people to learn to travel on public transport and has worked as a gardener, mowing lawns.
At the beginning of March 2022, Sam successfully applied for a shop assistant role with our charity shop team. In celebration of World Autism Acceptance Week, we wanted to find out how he’s getting on in his new job.
Q. Why did you want the job?
"I wanted to work in the charity shop because I am very interested in working and helping other autistic people and I want to raise awareness."
Q. How did you feel when you were offered the job?
“Very happy! I was very much looking forward to working here and serving customers.”
Q. How have your first few weeks been?
“Brilliant, I feel really comfortable. Tom and Kate have been training me and have helped me settle in by going at my pace.
“The customers are really friendly, and no one talks fast to me. When people talk fast, it makes it hard for me to understand what they are saying.”
Q. What do you enjoy about your role?
“I enjoy hanging and steaming clothes, working the till, and putting my maths and English skills to good use.”
Q. What does it mean to you to have a paid job?
"Having a job is great because it helps me pay my bills and put some money away in savings – money that I will put towards buying more video games!"
Tom, the shop manager at Whiteladies Road, explained how happy the team is to have Sam working with them.
“Sam’s a great addition to our team. I really admire his drive to help others. He uses his autism as a way of showing that as long as we are kind and treat each other how we ourselves want to be treated, we can build an open and caring community.”
Assistant shop manager, Kate, added:
“I'm excited to have Sam join our team. He's quickly settled in with confidence and enthusiasm. Sam is mindful and compassionate, creating a comfortable environment for both customers and colleagues. As a relatively new employee myself, it has been great to work alongside his positive attitude and I look forward to watching him develop and thrive as part of the Brandon team."
There are many ways for employers to accommodate autistic employees and create an inclusive environment where people can thrive.
Using clear language, having open conversations, avoiding last minute changes, and making small adjustments to the workplace, are just some of the ways you can help overcome barriers and reduce anxiety. Always remember that each autistic person is different and work together to find out how the individual learns, communicates, and works best.