Working for Garnett Interactive’s Logistics Team, Liz Manning has an adult son, Edward, who has autism. She has had a first-hand view of her son’s working experiences and what “Inclusion in the Business World” really means to those with autism.   

Edward was educated in a specialist setting for the majority of his school years and into early adulthood. With this background and then, ultimately, with the full support of an inclusive employer, Edward has been enabled to reach his full potential, leading a happy and successful independent private and working life. He has consistently achieved top-salesperson status in his workplace. Here is a question and answer session with Edward that illustrates how inclusion within the world of work can have very considerable benefits all round.

A huge thank you to Edward Manning for giving us this helpful insight and to Liz Manning who coordinated and led the interview.  

autism and work

Q1. Tell us a little bit about you.

Hi. My name is Edward, I am at the age of 30 years (August 1989) and I was born in Germany. I have been in specialist education ever since 1997 (thereabouts) and left special education in 2008. From August 2008, I was based within Residential Care in St Neots. In 2018, I finally found myself moving into my first ever place, still within St Neots whilst receiving Outreach Support.    My interests are Gaming, Socialising and as rare as it may sound…. Working more than having days off. I also enjoy walking, being outdoors in my garden, and going to the gym. 

Q2. What is your job title and place of work. How long have you been working for your current employer, and could you tell us a little about your role? 

I have worked at Currys PC World for 7 years. I am a sales assistantI have now worked within the retail industry for over 8 yearsI work on the shop floor advising customers about the best product to buy for their requirements 

Q3. Would you say you are supported well in your current employment, and can you describe what sort of measures have been put in place to help support you to succeed?  

Where I make mistakes, they constructively feedback what’s relevant, and if it gets to a certain point of it being regular or a serious issue, they’ll up the type of discussion/meeting that will be required to help me understand. 

Q4. What is the best thing about your job? 

Having a variety of many different things to do, being able to assist other stores and being involved in many things.

Autism is not a problem at work

Q5. What has been your biggest challenge? 

Finances – I have always found ways to overcome issues and how to manage my flow of income.  My biggest challenge to date (February 2020), has most certainly been moving to a new house all by myself with barely any assistance at all. This was from the flat I first moved to with the assistance of my parents, to a house I desired.

Q6. Has your employer made any “autism specific adjustments”? 

  • Last Autism Awareness Week Currys adjusted their music, turning it off for a few hours to make it more comfortable for people with autism to shop. 
  • On Autism Awareness Week I set up a collection for the NAS 

Q7. Do your colleagues support you? Are they friendly and helpful and understanding of your issues? 

Of course, the majority of them do and have done. A lot recognise my great sense of humour and leadership. Some have said I am fantastic support.

Q8. What do you think all employers need to know about autism?  

    1. AUTISM IS NOT A PROBLEM, OR A REASON TO DISMISS, BECAUSE YOU FEEL THAT INDIVIDUAL IS GOING TO BE MORE ENERGY! 
    2. I feel employers should have a measure in place that allows autistic applicants to undertake a few hours doing relevant work, for them to see where they can support that individual. 
    3. Ask for suitable contact details of appropriate parties to gain intel on how best to support the person. 
    4. Make more 1:1 meetings to regularly inform them where they’re doing well and what improvements step by step. 

Q9. What do you think the main barriers are for people with autism finding employment?  

The misinformed and uneducated society we live in, unfortunately. I couldn’t word it any better at the moment. 

Q10. Do you have any advice for other autistic people looking for employment? 

ALWAYS BE YOURSELF – NO MATTER WHAT, NEVER EVER STOP BELIEVING IN YOURSELF and where necessary, challenge right from wrong if you feel misperceived or ignored.