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My experience in the Home Office with Autism

Category: Home Office, Autism, My experience in the Home Office with Autism, World Autism Week 2019

Red background with white text overlaid spelling Diversity and Inclusion.

World Autism Awareness Week 2019

From leaving school, I’ve undertaken several roles both in and outside the Civil Service. This includes working as a research assistance for an MP and an administrative officer for the Health & Safety Executive.

Today, I’m working as an executive officer for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) However, it wasn’t until June 2014 that I was found to have a form of autism - a lifelong disability that affects how I make sense of the world, process information and relate to other people.

Growing up this really affected me socially. Having a formal diagnosis was a relief, enabling me and others to understand why I didn’t have very good social skills and how to implement coping strategies.  I’m proud to have sustained full-time employment for 18 years and I am currently the deputy Chair of the Home Office staff  network for people with a disability, Able.  I want others like me to be offered the same opportunities.

My condition is mostly a 'hidden disability'. Therefore, in most instances, you can't tell that I have the condition from my outward appearance.  Most people with the condition have difficulties in three main areas:

  • social communication
  • social interaction
  • social imagination

I often have difficulties managing my emotions, and can experience sensory overload - particularly with sounds. I have difficulty using and understanding verbal and non-verbal language, such as gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice, as well as jokes and sarcasm.  I can often miss the subtle messages that are put across by facial expression and body language which, people can often misinterpret as me being disinterested or rude. This is often not the case.  It is simply that my brain receives and translates information differently.

On the positive side, with the right reasonable adjustments in place, I’m able to play to my strengths which include problem solving, attention to detail, explaining how things work, and empathising with others. I think it’s important that we understand the diverse thinking and positive attributes people with autism can and do bring to the workplace and wider society.

I’m proud to be involved in setting up the Home Office Autism Buddy Group. The group offers assistance to people who are on the autism spectrum or are parents of an autistic child, offering peer support and help to cope with these conditions at work.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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