Welcome back to Adventures with Autism Works. After a week's meditation retreat, I feel very refreshed. The refreshing feeling that I brought back from Powys, Wales, I feel has had some significant benefits for certain aspects of my work at Autism Works, especially for next week's World Autism Organisation conference at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, where Peter Macdonald and I will be speaking about Autism Works. Hopefully, the results of this conference will be the opposite of Sunderland AFC's start to the season, which has so far been unsuccessful with only two points from four games.
The meditation retreat at the Samatha Centre was a really relaxing experience, despite the rainy weather! This was my second full retreat here, but I felt that there was something different about the effects this time. When doing something like this for the first time, one is never quite sure what to expect. As I knew what the expect in terms of practice levels this time, I felt that I was able to experience further effects, especially feeling refreshed after each meditation practice. After each practice, everything seemed to become much clearer. I was able to realise who I am in relation to the interconnections of my surroundings, almost as if I had just returned home from travelling and noticed details my new experience had enabled me to notice.
Such refreshing perspectives are often very helpful when having to learn processes that one is trained in and, in some cases, become 'conditioned' in to the extent that it becomes automatic pilot. Such an approach to recruitment processes, not just within Autism Works or similar organisations, including our inspirations Specialisterne and Aspiritech, is needed across employers universally, to enable people with ASC access to employment within a wide range of roles, not just within IT. Practices that we have developed at Autism Works, some of which we will be talking about at the Stadium of Light next week, once established can hopefully be incorporated among employers where possible to provide flexibility towards candidates with an ASC, which could also be another service that Autism Works can provide as well as software testing.
To enable this, many aspects of conventional recruitment practice need to be un-learned. Too often, the focus is candidates with ASC needing training or coaching on how to adapt to conventional recruitment practices, including job interviews. Though this may be necessary up to a point, one has to draw the line somewhere, so that people on the spectrum don't feel that they have to be actors/actresses to manage a recruitment process. People with ASC are often described and even stereotyped as being 'rigid' or 'inflexible', but often, it helps to look at where conventional approaches in education and employment are perhaps inflexible towards people with ASC.
Flexible approaches within businesses both in recruitment processes and in the working environment are important not just to accommodate people with ASC, but also to enable pooling of skills, abilities and ideas which ultimately enhance output. Earlier in the week, I had the privilege to listen to Adam Hart-Davis, author and broadcaster, at the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society. Hart-Davis' fascinating lecture was about about the Lunar Society of Birmingham, or the 'Lunarticks', as they called themselves. The Lunarticks, whose members included the likes of James Watt (inventor of the steam engine), Josiah Wedgewood (founder of Wedgewood Pottery) and Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles Darwin), met every full moon during the late 18th century when the Industrial Revolution was in motion. Hart Davis showed how some of its members were good inventors while others were good entrepreneurs, a fusion of which allowed key stages of the Industrial Revolution to develop. Similarly, a fusion of people with ASC and people who don't have ASC working together can enhance output in the marketplace.
Stay tuned to Adventures with Autism Works to see how the conference goes next week!
We would also like to say a huge thank you to Sumanjeet Sandhu, our student intern from Newcastle University, who finishes her placement with us at Autism Works today, for all her hard work and creativity raising our profile through the social media networks. We wish her well for her future, which we hope will be a bright one.