Tag Archives: employment

Would You Give Him A Chance?

23 Aug

Firstly, thank you to all my lovely readers, twitter followers and Facebook friends, who took the time to read my Little mans inspiring post that he has published over on his very own blog.

The re-tweets on twitter, shares on Facebook, 100 + page views and that of a comment left on his post has put a huge smile on his face and a spring in his step. My Little man is now beaming with confidence.

It’s a big thing getting your voice heard, especially for my son who has real difficulties when it comes to expressing himself. Having seen his finished post, I think that writing may just be the answer for him.

Those who read the post have sent me some lovely tweets and messages, all congratulating me for raising such a well focused and inspiring child. Thank you to you all, I am extremely proud!

When Little man had finished writing his post, he asked for my opinions before sharing it with the world. He told me in no uncertain terms, that he didn’t wish to receive any feedback from myself as his mother but from that of a blogger (smarty pants). I really don’t know what it was I expected to read, maybe something about his special interests, WWE and transport (maybe a little Lego thrown in for good measure). But what I did read was actually something very different! I sat trying to hide my tears, one’s built upon happiness (little man doesn’t get the whole “I’m crying because I’m happy scenario”). Reading his thoughts, that of his emotions was insightful. It demonstrated the progress his made both mentally and emotionally! I felt immensely proud and as he hit the publish button my stomach did summersaults with excitement.

Now, as great as the content was, it did raise a number of questions within my own mind! The first being “Will my sons determination to succeed be enough to actually make it happen?” Now, please don’t get me wrong, I believe in my child, I believe that Aspergers Syndrome will not make him any less able to achieve his dreams, at 11-years-old he has already made it very clear that he wants to be the next Richard Branson, owning a string of businesses. Honestly, I don’t doubt his ability to make this more than just a dream. What I do doubt is that of our society and it’s ability to overcome the ignorance of today!

No, he doesn’t want to become an employee for an employer, he wants an investor to hear his ideas and label them as a good investment. Only, looking at today’s statistics even when it comes to basic employment, the odds are highly stacked against those on the Autism Spectrum in the same way they are stacked against those who experience mental health problems. Yes, Little man is quite clearly intelligent, but intelligence isn’t always the key needed to open every new door.

I’m not being negative, I believe my son has the capability to achieve anything he puts his hand to. However, as a parent I need to be realistic, exploring every possible hurdle that might come our way. You see, it’s not like we’re not used to a fight, we’ve fought our fair share of battles and come out on top . Preparation is the key to to enabling change for all!

So, let’s just look at the statistics here.

Only 15% of adults on the autism spectrum (ASD) in the UK are in full-time paid employment.

51% of adults with ASD in the UK have spent time with neither a job, nor access to benefits, 10% of those having been in this position for a decade or more.

61% of those out of work say they want to work.

79% of those on Incapacity Benefit say they want to work.
full statistical report concentrating on issues of education, employment and autism can be found by Clicking Here

This doesn’t look good does it?

Last year I wrote about a first meeting I had with a friend of mine. This friend was someone I met through Facebook, an adult diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. At that current time he was unemployed due to no fault of his own. We are not talking someone just out the gates of secondary school but a full grown man with an impressive background in education. His interest in working with computers is a real passion of his, that when combined with his IT degree, makes him highly employable. Nonetheless, this friend of mine has actually worked before and done so on more than a few occasions. Sadly he always finds himself jobless again.The fact he isn’t great in social situations doesn’t help and he is normally dismissed for something beyond his control, like the time his employer failed to give him direct instructions meaning that he was left looking like he was failing to produce enough work. He won’t ask for directions, he doesn’t feel that he can approach and ask, it’s not in his nature and the employer knew this! While in this particular position, he was sat at a desk in a corner, a corner that was a good distance from his colleagues! He was not encouraged to interact so he kept himself to himself till home time when he would then unload all the days stress that he had kept suppressed throughout the working day.The Treatment was clearly that of discrimination in the workplace.

My friends most recent position was not given on a permeant basis, though it was made clear from the offset that such positions would become available once the term of “employees contract” had ended. There was at least 10 others taking the same position meaning all contracts would come to an end together at the same time. However, when this did happened, no one mentioned to my friend the prospect of maybe continuing on the job in a more permanent fashion. My friend asked and was told that he was not needed. It turns out that the other nine or so employees who started work for the company at the same time on the same day with the exact same contract, all ended up being offered full-time placements. What had my friend done wrong? He did nothing wrong! He had just been open and honest with his former employee when he told them he had a diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome.

The treatment above, isn’t something unusual and unheard-of! It’s something that many experience and do so on a daily basis… Yes, as if things were not hard enough during them school years!

My sons idea to make his own business is quite honestly one of brilliance! It removes the employer completely from the equation therefore allowing Little man to be himself without fear of judgement. However, to do this he needs someone to invest in his proposal (the one his had since age 9)! Now I ask you high flying business men & women out there… Regardless of how sensational my sons proposal may or may not be, if he then told you he had Aspergers Syndrome would you continue to take him seriously?

A recent documentary that I’m guessing many of you saw or at least heard about, documented how discriminating employers can be when they see an applicant has stated within their application form, that they have a diagnosis of a neurological condition such as Aspergers or that of a condition that falls under the mental health umbrella. Undercover reporters captured the shocking footage that clearly showed how discriminating such employers really are. The shocking truth revealed that actually society haven’t actually moved on as much as some first thought they had!

We need less prejudice and more faith in a persons ability regardless of any attached labels. The results would be a decrease in the unemployment rate and more efficient services provided to society by those joining the workplace! There would also be a noticeable decrease in the number of people diagnosed and treated with depression as well as a reduction in the number of services and benefits affected by government cuts.

It’s a big ask… The removal of societies ignorance! Realism takes hold off me and with it, I prepare for the future and whatever it may bring.

What I do know for sure is… Little man will make it, because his a fighter and I’ll be there supporting him all the way!

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I wonder how many people who have declared a diagnosis of ASD or mental health problems, actually have a job here?

Are you really brave enough to put the word Aspergers down on your job application?

9 Jul

The power of the internet is truly amazing, for me it’s brought information, peace, opportunities, comfort, experiences, support, education, understanding and friends. (Those and so many more!) 

 Yesterday, I got to meet one those friends in the flesh, over a fabulously delicious skinny latte, with lashings of cinnamon generously sprinkled over a layer of froth. (No, that wasn’t a snip-it from the Marks & Sparks commercial, but me really appreciating a good mug of coffee!) Thanks Neil 🙂

 Star bucks was the ideal setting to chat to a new friend, one I had been wanting to meet for sometime but life being life just made it an impossible task… Well till now! 

 I suppose to classify Neil as a “New friend” isn’t quite right! You see, I’ve known Neil for sometime now, though conversations are only ever exchanged in the land of cyber-space. Neil, an adult on the autism spectrum who was given a late diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome, is a regular contributor in discussions and a massive supporter of the support page, ‘A boy with Asperger’s’ the Facebook page in which I created some few years back as an added addition to this very blog (hence the name of course). His opinions are always given in a frank and honest manner, his certainly given some great advice to many of our members, including that of myself. To be honest Neil has provided me with a sort of insight, highlighting how things could possibly be for my own child in adult life (an important issue to which I will elaborate on soon enough)! 

 Here I was, finally about to meet Neil who yes as mentioned has Aspergers. Just, after 1.30 lunch time I arrived to found Neil awaiting my arrival at the entrance. I knew it was Neil and his profile pic on Facebook had sod all to do with it! So… What gave him away? Only the fact he checked out my footwear as I entered through the door ensuring I had no sandals upon my feet (Yes, Neil hates sandals) There was no awkwardness having only previously met in cyberspace, well… this was the case for me and Neil seemed just fine too! Having got passed the shock that was caused by the similarities of my common London girl accent to that of someone you would likely find staring in the soap ‘Eastenders’ We chatted about life in general. Honestly, Neil is a genuine guy who is extremely interesting and speaks from his heart. He says exactly how it is (Which is an aspie trait you cannot fail to appreciate). 

 Everything Neil said was of interest, I found it a privilege to have him tell me about his life on the spectrum. He put the myths to bed and although I myself  always knew it possible, it was just so good to hear that the best part of his life has been a great success! How else can you describe a good education, (through it wasn’t always easy) a happy marriage and a beautiful son. However, there was something that had never been quite right! At no fault of his own Neil has never been able to hold down a job! Why because society wont allow him that right, the basic human right to make an honest living, to be the loving husband and father who provides and I should add ‘Wants’ to provide for his family… WHY? Its simple! Neil is not seen as a) a “Team-Player, b)  a big communicator  and c) one of them (you know part of the click) Yes, that’s right, those that will a least give him a chance assume his some kind of character from the film ‘Rain man’ sitting him in the corner alone, far away from his colleagues, drawing the conclusion that it’s for the best as this is what those with aspergers want and need to be social isolated from the ‘world… Well, isn’t It! 

This alone screams out loud how little those in the work place, especially that of senior staff really know about AS!

 Neil isn’t under-qualified in-fact he proves that yes, people with AS have great minds and given they put everything into it just as one would who isn’t on the spectrum, they can go on to obtain good qualifications, even having excelled in many areas of  their learning. Is it right that many people on the autism specturm or those with learning disabilities, mental health problems, especially those who’s condition is characterised but that of a difficulty with social communication, are taught by society at large that it is at there utter best interest to go to collage and then university, for god knows how many years, to obtain a degree only to face to total disappointment on the discovery that they are completely unemployable? Even when they do get their foot in the door ready for the challenge of the world of work, a large number of employees with a disability are treated just like my friend Neil (Though you haven’t yet heard the half of it)! Note: I’m not stating those with autism or any other form of disability shouldn’t go to university, obtain a degree! Maybe one day that of my own son will, through that’s his choice and his alone! Nor am I stating that all employers treat employees who have autism/aspergers or other, in this same manner… That would mean I was writing this in a discriminating way! I acknowledge that there are many that do not discriminate and actually do take the time to get autism aware and inflict that awareness on all of its employers! But sadly the number that do not are still far to high, just ask Neil or better still,  just go back a few months when MP Philip Davis outrageously called for all disabled to work for less then the minimum wage… Something he must have unquestionably considered fair in his discriminating little brain! 

 Neil’s last job ( in IT) saw him and around approximately fifteen other employees, employed on a fixed term contract! Neil once again was sat in a corner, left to his own devices. Where was the structure? Of course there wasn’t any. As a woman who isn’t on the spectrum, though I often like to be left to my own devices, I like to know exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing, how, when and how long for in order for me to do it and do it well, who don’t? For someone like Neil this is imperative! This didn’t happen, like many people with a social communication difficulty he didn’t feel to ask, he didn’t want to, this wasn’t the comfortable thing to do. Failing to see that In-fact Neil was human and would kind of appreciate come social interaction… No one took notice! The results… Neil’s work wasn’t at its finest (but still good I must add). 

 The very end result…

You guessed it, (If, u didn’t after such a long rant then you’re clearly not following.)  Neil’s contract came to an end as planned and just as it did for those fifteen others! Well, fair game then, a contract ending is just that, a contract ending! Where is the problem? Here’s the problem… The other fifteen, all except Neil that is, found themselves happily celebrating the fact they immediately had their contracts renewed for a much longer period of time by their once more praising boss. What a sack of crap!!! Seriously can you imagine how that must have felt? Maybe It felt something like how my own son felt when he was taught in isolation, away from others, left to his own devices, maybe it kinda resembled that same feeling like when my son was told he wouldn’t be allowed to attend educational trips or participate in activities alongside that of his peers! My point… From class room, to office, child to adult discrimination due to others inability to except the person you are, that of disability discriminate still delivers that same devastating blow! Was it Ok, after all the contract had come to a timely end? Crap! This was wrong and Neil for one knows it. Lets not forget its not his first job and likely wont be that of his last! He was told, Sorry you are not much of a team player and yes your work wasn’t always up to scratch. The fact is, having they had made the work place that bit more accessible, made adaptions allowing for his Aspergers from the word go, with the added courtesy of  some instructions, which would have been much appreciated, Neil would have produced the work expected and would likely have been a great deal happier in his working environment!

 My very last point… Promise!

 Not only did I learn from Neil that my son could possible get married, have children, ride a motorbike and hate sandals as much as him! I also learnt he could possible found himself unemployable and yet again the target of discrimination. Yes, my child may have got in to our desired school but like Neil showed me… To get into his desired job is something his yet to face! 

 Neil is looking to make a stand! His words to me, “I want to change things so children like your son don’t have to grow up and be treated in the same way!” My opinion… That was spoken with passion! Please help. I don’t often plea for your help (Ok, Ok excluding that of the Mad blog awards) but this is so very important and its life changing for him and so many others. Neil is searching for other adults both young and old who have autism or other related conditions to get in touch. He wants to collect your stories and get them heard… I guarantee that this will be a campaign he will fight to the bitter end but to do it alone just makes it harder! Neil is looking for people who feel they were discriminated against at work due to their disability, who wants change and wants it with a passion. 

Contact me here by leaving a comment here on the blog

To visit Neil’s Blog: Click HERE

Contact me on twitter: @Clairelouise82

 

I’m no Vicky Pallord!

25 May

Warning post contains sarcasm!

I’m a mummy of three, who doesn’t currently engage in paid employment! My hobbies include sitting on my backside smoking an excessive amount of cheap brand cigarettes while indulging in the awesomeness of daytime television. (it’s my opinion that daytime telly is seriously under-rated in its entertainment value).

When my two older children are in school I generally let my eighteen month old run a muck, while I get my daily fix of Jeremy Kyle. As I trust you all, I will let you into a little secret of mine! “I sometimes keep the two older children home from school due to me failing to get my arse out of bed of a morning, that or I require them to babysit their little brother as to allow me some me time! Yes, this is mainly spent socialising and networking on Facebook.”

So, there you have it! I’m basically a total bum who has chosen to live this lavish lifestyle as opposed to getting a, what’s that word again? …Oh yes that’s it, ‘JOB’!!!!

Can you blame me? Given the toss-up between the two, that is…   A lazy day at home in the company of Jeremy Kyle, or… The long commute on an overly crowded train in a bid to get to work five mornings a week! Sorry… Jeremy wins hands down!

Yer right as if! Please tell me you do realise that the above is nothing other than an example of my twisted humour, a hard injection of sarcasm! Come on people seriously…  I’m no ‘VICKY POLLARD

It’s incredibly lamentable that a large proportion of people in today’s society, will all to often draw such conclusions of those above when it comes to unemployed mothers!

I guess it’s all to easy to assume that the mother on benefits who lives in a council house, doesn’t work because its easier this way. You only have to watch television to see some great examples of the stigma surrounding this type of mother! I’m not stating that I myself don’t laugh till my sides are sore when watching ‘Little Britain’ or ‘Balls of steel’ I’m just stating that it’s a shame that in the reality of things, people everywhere actually see us mum’s in this light!

Well, this may well be the case for some mothers, but it certainly isn’t the case for me! I imagine it isn’t for many others either!

So, do I want to work? In actual fact… I do!

I’m not only a full-time mother to three children (one on the autism spectrum), but I’m also a volunteer adviser and caseworker, supporting parents of children with autism and special educational needs through the process of the SEN tribunal in-order to get their child’s educational needs met. My duties include: Advising parents on their legal rights, helping them make an application to the tribunal, then basically guiding those that need it, through the different stages of the appeal from then on till the hearing. I can’t begin to explain how for me this is an incredibly rewarding position! Its one that doesn’t provide me with any financial gain, no form of income! That’s right! I do it because I’m passionate about helping these families overcome the battle of obtaining educational provision for their children! After all, It’s something we as a family have continually faced.

My little man was a very different child, a deeply unhappy one, up in till we removed him from mainstream in December. His currently in home tuition (supplied at the expense of the LEA), since January this year. He was continually excluded from his old school, I was called to collect him almost daily and towards the end he was taught in isolation. Lucky, Little man is set to start a trail placement at a fantastic independent autism specific school at the end of June. All goes well… The school will be named in part 4 of his statement!

So, here’s my point, I do have one I promise! I’m sure many parents of children on the spectrum will agree with me when I say, “Who would want to employ a mother or a father of an autistic child?” I’m being honest when I say, “I wouldn’t employ me!”

Constant calls from your child’s head-teacher requesting you collect your child immediately! They want you to come in just to have a word with them, or calm your child down during a meltdown! To work would be wholly unachievable! Lets state facts here guys, tell it like it is! What decent company with a boss who is well on the ball, would even consider employing a woman like me?

Come November 2011, this mum will be putting the long-term plan into action, the one that sees her go get the career she wants! Yes, this is the date I hope to start studying for my Psychology degree, “The one I couldn’t start this month as previously planed” (Not enough time, what with Jeremy Kyle and all). My study will thankful be done from home with the ‘Open University’ allowing me the flexibility to care for the children and carry on volunteering.

So, you see… I’m not no ‘Vicky Pallord’ (you couldn’t pay me to wear that shell suit)! More importantly I don’t do any of those terrible things, with the exception of them horrid cigarettes (Yes, bad habit I know!) I’m really just a mum trying to do right by her children! Even if that is under the roof of a council house!

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