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Our Job Coaches have lived experience and are designing better recruitment processes for autistic people

At auticon our social mission is clear, we strive for equal employment opportunities for autistic people. We can’t achieve this mission without creating a supporting environment that enables the strengths of our consultants to shine through. Underpinning this support are the unique skills and the vital role our Job Coaches play in working with both consultants and clients to successfully implement our mission.

These unique skills are not easily learned, Meredith Ward has built her wealth of knowledge based on her lived experience being a mother of an autistic child, now 26 years old. Meredith is the Senior Job Coach and for her, working at auticon is a very personal experience. She understands firsthand the challenges of many autistic people and is determined to change their prospects.

 Our team of consultants with Meredith and Ivonne at Adventure Rooms

She spoke recently about her experiences as a mother, the impact of learning about a diagnosis and how she found strength as she learned more about autism.
“Twenty-four years ago, when we first heard those words and got that diagnosis everything we believed about our son was taken away, in terms of what his potential might be. It was replaced with a big black hole. But I’ve since learned that that’s not the case,” she said.

“Having a diagnosis of autism now isn’t as devastating as I probably once thought because we know more about autism now. I know that my son has his own skills, strengths and talents and everything else that go with it, but I need to recalibrate my expectations in both directions.”

The journey through life for autistic people is challenging and employment is no exception, 31.6% of people on the spectrum are unemployed. The typical screening process for recruiting is really set up to fail autistic people and has them experiencing countless rejection.

Meredith has seen this struggle and is determined to change it by employing non-traditional methods that enable autistic people to show their strengths and hidden talents throughout the hiring process.

“Joining an organization like auticon is important to me. I’m passionate about organizations like auticon because people with autism miss out everywhere, they miss out from a social perspective, they miss out from an educational perspective, they miss out from an employment perspective.

“My own son is unemployed, he doesn’t have a job, he is one of those in the stats that we talk about. To be part of an organization [like auticon] where you can help change that and in a meaningful way, for a handful of people, is incredible.”

“Many people that come through our recruitment process have had a similar journey, so I understand why they are so desperate to have someone understand that they’re different and understand the trauma that they have gone through as a young person growing up.”

She went on the talk about the importance of building a supported environment in the context of recruitment, “Providing a supported environment enables our candidates the opportunity to shine and really showcase their skill sets and strengths in different ways and what they can offer,” concluded Ms Ward.

If you are reading this and you or someone you know is on the autism spectrum and they are interested in a career in IT or perhaps they are a more experienced IT professional that is looking for a more supportive and autism friendly environment to work in please get in contact at recruitment@auticon.com or connect with us on LinkedIn or Facebook .

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