World Autism Awareness Week has highlighted the important role that people with autism or Aspergers can play in the workplace.
Locally firms have shown a willingness to integrate autistic people and are being supported by specialists, and organisations such as Little Gate Farm, in order to help them understand and appreciate the specific needs of these people.
Little Gate, at Beckley, offers people the opportunity to gain experience on a working farm but also finds work places for people with learning disabilities in the Hastings and Rother area.
Rachel Lowden is an independent autism specialist working in Hastings, who undertakes consultation projects and work therapeutically.
She recently completed a project with the Home Office and works alongside local and national agencies as well as being on various boards and steering groups.
Rachel explained: “Autism is a hidden condition. Very often employers only need to make slight adjustments to be neuro-diverse.
“My field is Aspergers Syndrome and this project is focused on training local employers and people with autism how to access, sustain and achieve within the workplace.
“I work with many people with Aspergers who are teachers, solicitors, nurses, care workers, or work in IT.
“Some staff at Little Gate have Aspergers and are working with me to create Autism Champions to teach others. It is exciting, unique and an opportunity to see how diverse, creative and relevant autism is.”
One such example is Oliver who has been working at local accountants Ashdown Hurrey as a Book Keeping Assistant since last April.
He started work with a Job Coach for the first four months in his role. He has recently started a Book Keeping Course Level 1 at Sussex Coast College and attends Little Gate Farm once a week to continue with practising office skills.
Rachel said: “World Autism Awareness week is an excellent opportunity to invite the general public to engage with their understanding of autism and understand some of the amazing work that is going on locally.”
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