Gregory works part-time as a freelance consultant, researcher and writer, alongside his voluntary work with charities. He has also worked as a campaign assistant and researcher for MPs, and done policy work for the Salvation Army and MIND. It's not quite how he planned his career, but he feels proud of what he has achieved.
Always be open with yourself and others about your autism and how it affects you.
"I've always found communication difficult and can be highly anxious in certain situations, particularly when meeting new people or if I don't know what to expect. I also struggle to understand and pick up on unwritten social rules and body language.
"All of this means that going to interviews and being in a busy workplace is a bit harder. But, with support from my family, and advice from my university and charities like The National Autistic Society, and experience, I've managed to do okay.
"My advice to other autistic people looking for work is to always be open with yourself and others about your autism and how it affects you. And that includes making employers aware so they can be understanding and make the necessary adjustments to support you. It's not just about when applying for jobs but also at work – I’ve been up front about my issues to my work at all times and employers and colleagues have been supportive and made small changes to the interview process and workplace.
"Of course, everyone on the autism spectrum is different. Some autistic people, like me, have a number of small issues that can be worked around while others have more complex issues.
It's important to look at your strongest skills and find a job that reflects these.
"There's a certain amount of luck to all interviews but there are lots of ways you can prepare. For instance, I visited The National Autistic Society website to get information and advice about what to do in an interview.
"My advice to anyone on the autism spectrum is to trust in yourself and the skills you have and look for jobs which you feel best suit you. Being autistic doesn't mean you can't do a job. It's important to look at your strongest skills and find a job that reflects these. For me, it's about research skills and project work but everyone is different.
"I've also learnt to be realistic about the work I can do. For example, I would find bar work hard to cope because of my communication difficulties. I know what I can and can't do and that has proved very important when looking for work.
"But it's not just about autistic people making changes. It's also important that employers understand autism and have an open mind when recruiting. Autistic people have a range of different skills and interests, just like anyone else, and can be great employees.
"Of course this is only my story but I feel fortunate that my family and friends have been understanding of my problems and have been lucky in my life in general."
Our Internal Communications and Press Volunteer Toby King has just got a brilliant job at Channel 4 as their Corporate Press and Publicity Assistant. We’re delighted for him and wish him all the best in his new role. He’s written a blog for us about his employment journey and experience volunteering with our charity.
I left university with a master’s degree in 2015 and I couldn’t get a job for half a year. I was nervous about disclosing the fact I had Asperger syndrome to potential employers.
My university’s career service told me that, as I was high functioning, it would be better not to put it on applications as it would lower my chances of being hired when compared with neurotypical candidates.
Eventually I took a wholesale job without telling my employer I was autistic. I ended up living in a hotel for three months, injuring my arm in a workplace incident and didn’t get any training or development. I was miserable. I felt ungrounded and unsure, finding things particularly difficult because I didn’t believe I could explain what I was struggling with to my employer.
After six months I decided to leave. But what I did take from the job was that I needed to feel valued, understood and useful in my career. I’m a good salesman but I need my work to have a direct, positive impact on people, and I want to bring my creativity to whatever job I’m in.
I started volunteering with The National Autistic Society in November and I suddenly realised that I didn’t have to hide who I was from other people.
Working in their press and communications teams, I found that I not only loved my work but that I was good at it. The team accepted me for who I was and allowed me to be myself. I enjoyed being busy and selling stories, working with data and with people while discovering that autism wasn’t a hindrance.
In February I was offered a position on the Press and Publicity team for Channel 4. I felt confident telling them about my disability in my application and they were both incredibly accepting and keen to learn about what Asperger syndrome means for me, as well as make any adjustments.
Autism for me is mostly about feeling settled – knowing where things are in the workplace, advance warning about loud fire alarms, making sure tasks are explained clearly to me.
The adjustments I need aren’t particularly big but they would make life easier for any employee, autistic or not.
Emily is 29 and works as an Employment Training Consultant at The National Autistic Society.
"Autism affects everything about me – mostly it affects how I communicate with other people, but I also have sensory sensitivities which means that I can get tired if there are bright lights or find it really tough to concentrate if there's a lot of noise.
I'm great at what I do, but I'm awful at planning it – so a bit of help with that has meant I can do much more.
"My job involves lots of travelling and building relationships with people. I often find that I can 'pass' as a non-autistic person, so I like surprising people when they find out that I'm autistic and can do all of these things. I like defying their expectations of someone on the spectrum.
"But that doesn't mean I don't struggle at all. Luckily my boss is really understanding and helps me to plan my work and makes adjustments that stop me getting stressed or overwhelmed. I'm great at what I do, but I'm awful at planning it – so a bit of help with that has meant I can do much more.
"Autistic people are so often an asset to the workplace, but most of the time they’re thought of as a problem because people don't really get what autism is and how it affects people. With a little understanding, I really think we could change things and stop locking autistic people out of the workplace."
Erin is 24 and works as a Front of House Advisor at The National Autistic Society.
"I feel really happy in my job at the moment. It's not an obvious choice of work for me because it includes a lot of areas that I find really challenging. But because my manager understands my autism, she's good at making sure we have fortnightly catch-ups and allowing adjustments that can make things feel easier for me when I’m starting to feel stressed.
Since the help has come along its changes things around for me in a huge way.
Because of this I'm able to expand my workload and take on more areas outside my comfort zone that I’m actually really enjoying. And I have meetings with a work coach to help me recognise when my stress is rising and work out strategies to cope.
"But the experiences I've had in work haven’t always been so positive, and back then I couldn’t communicated what I needed and why. But since the help has come along its changes things around for me in a huge way. It’s so important for employers to have that bit of understanding so that someone can help work things out, even if you might not know what’s quite wrong yourself.
"Autistic people have so many amazing things to offer the world, and all we need is understanding and a willingness to make adjustments in order to achieve this. Every single one of us deserves to have the opportunity to be the best we can be."
Max, 19, is Desktop Analyst in IT at Sovereign Housing Association. He's also a YouTuber and has made videos on his channel MaxiBlog since 2013. Max is also a part-time actor who has appeared on Holby City, Doctors and is the star of The National Autistic Society's powerful new employment campaign film.
"I left school without any GCSEs and felt worthless, like people would think I have nothing to offer. I managed to get an interview at a phone company but it was a disaster – I didn’t know what to expect and became so overwhelmed with anxiety that I couldn’t speak. I just sat there, shaking and sweating.
It made such a difference knowing someone had faith in me, probably more than anyone will ever know.
"I was at rock bottom but I didn't let it stop me and knew my family would be there for me, I went to another interview. I froze again but managed to pass across my notes to the interviewer. They were really understanding and must have seen something in me because they offered me an apprenticeship – a lifeline.
"It made such a difference knowing someone had faith in me, probably more than anyone will ever know. From that moment I've given everything. I think this tenacity is part of my autism and it’s paid off with me being 'Apprentice of the Year' and going full-time earlier this year. I always say to myself, 'you'll never fail, if you keep going'."
"But, it hasn’t always been easy – I was so overwhelmed on my first day that I had a huge nosebleed in my first meeting. I can also struggle to understand social rules in the workplace, like etiquette, and can misinterpret conversations and end up confused or taking things personally.
"However, at the same time I have qualities that some people don't have. I have a great memory, I am creative, I'm a team player, I'm outgoing and I always give 100% because it means everything to me. My employer has been so understanding and encourages me to come to them with any concerns and to take time out if I'm starting to feel overwhelmed.
"I know that not all employers are like mine and understand autism. But I hope my story and The National Autistic Society’s campaign will encourage more employers to learn a bit more about autism and hopefully give more autistic people like me a chance. To me, it's not a risk to an employer, it's an opportunity to find someone who is great at what they do.
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