This post has come just as I have started canvassing in the general election. Now there is a case that I am putting to people that I talk to on the campaign trail about my autism advocacy. One of the phrases that I have been uttering in public is ‘Autistic Conservatives Support Aspirational Aspies’. The case that I am putting to vote conservatives in this election is also to support the self-determination and civil rights of neurodiversity. As an autistic, I have my own special skills and abilities and I want the freedom to work in a job where I can see myself as a useful and valuable member of the company.
Seeking employment is a struggle for many people on the autistic spectrum. According to the National Autistic Society around 70% of autistics are not employed in any form of jobs. And of those that are employed many of them are in low wage jobs that are either short term or minimum wage by default. There are laws protecting them as employees but they have got difficulties keeping their jobs because the companies either have limited ways of accommodating them for their workspace or have hidden prejudices towards the disabled, thinking that their presence will affect their productivity of their services.
Most disability activists side with leftists political groups like Labour, the Green and other charities because the general perception of disabled people is that they are vulnerable and helpless. This leads to them being only concerned with protecting their welfare services, the social security handouts they receive from the DWP and making sure that they get decent social housing. I, however, am an autistic person that supports conservatives because they give me the freedom and creative opportunities to show that I am not in need of welfare support, but need the freedom to be independent of state social security.
To achieve a proper independent life and financial freedom for the disabled we need to listen to the disabled such as myself and create adjustable workspaces that can accommodate people depending on the needs of their circumstances. Take myself as an autistic person for example. I can function well in a normal workspace providing it’s not too stressing, which is okay for me in my case because I am a high functioning autistic. But a large number of autistics have sensory issues and tend to be highly reactive to heavy noises, strong bright lights, or disorganised settings.
I have a job that is an example of a work routine can be effectively applied to someone with a disability at little cost to the employer. This job is a home-based role that requires no travel or need of an office at a company so there is virtually no need for expenses on the train fares or office space for me. I am a networker for a trade agency and I write spreadsheets and write emails and sometimes make phone calls to companies that would be interested in investing in trade missions or making direct investment in foreign countries.
It’s quite a rare and sometimes difficult ability for someone autistic to be able to communicate with people. I am by nature quite an introverted person, so I need to plan ahead and form my words more actively than a normal person before speaking. I find that I can communicate with people better when I think ahead or consult with an employer about what to converse with when connecting with work colleagues or customers. I use a method where I practise with repeating phrases that I can recite to someone when the time comes for me to use it.
The useful benefit of this job to someone autistic or with any other disability is that they can work from home in a place where they can build their workspace that suits them. It means that the will not feel uncomfortable in a setting that would disrupt their progress. I have hyper focussed attention, very creative ways of organising spaces, an eye for details that can easily be seen and pointed out very quickly. One autism advocate is an openly autistic lawyer called Haley Moss. She has written candidly about her experiences with living as an openly autistic person and she has found an employer that is very accommodating to her needs and shows that we need to accept and celebrate one another.
I am in the same league as Haley working to fight for the acceptance of autistic workability schemes and getting employers to recognise the useful talents of disabled people. What many employers don’t realise is the amount of value and talent that it can be worth to their companies. It’s worth over $8 trillion dollars to the world’s economy and can bring prosperity to everyone. I wrote about this two years ago for United Politics and the article can be seen here.
The work that I do at Africa House London is showing the usefulness of autism. What’s remarkable about this role that I do is that it exceeds and defies the expectations of what it’s like to be on the spectrum. I am networking with people and companies selling opportunities for them to expand their business activities that is not usually typical of an autistic. Usually an autistic would be perceived as awkward, and incapable of connecting with people. But that’s not the case.
Some autistics especially those with Aspergers are more likely to be able to function socially with their special interests. They can communicate vast amounts of information to a client or customer but with special training, they can be comfortable around people. I had to take time to practice being around people in certain situations so that I could be capable of interacting with them in an acceptable way. Many autistics like sticking to a professional routine that is structured in an orderly way like this.
One more thing that I want to share with you about my hopes for this career that I apply to my autism advocacy is showing that the Conservatives can lead he way to inventing a job market that accommodates the disabled. It’s not about trying to kill off social security. Although I am high functioning I do respect the needs of less able-bodied autistics, I just want the freedom and right of self-determination to be who I want to be and be valued for something really useful. There are thousands of jobs out there that can be adjusted to accommodate the disabled.