Friday 12 August 2011

Fine-Tuning Health and Safety

Continuing my task of putting together the Operational Manual for Autism Works, this week I have been focusing on the company's Health and Safety policy and procedures, which covers fire safety, risk assessment and hazard identification. It is often thought that when putting together a set of such procedures, that once they are written and in place, that's it, end of project. But in relation to the needs of employees with autism and not least regarding how quickly technology is moving on and how working practices are ever-changing, it is anything but complete, but rather ongoing.

One of the challenges that policy-makers are often faced with when looking at developing services for people with ASC is that because ASC is so individual regarding needs and in the case of providing sustainable employment, reasonable adjustments, it becomes difficult to standardise practice, thus making the task complicated. What is especially complex about this particular task that I am working on though that there is very little in the way of good practice or templates in existence that we can replicate or learn from. Hopefully though, we can produce a model of practice from which others can replicate elsewhere, to enable access to the jobs market for so many people with ASC in the UK and throughout the world, as well as  bring unique skills to the marketplace.

As well as being ongoing, development of good practice doesn't occur in isolation. When putting together the operational procedures, I am finding it helpful to do it alongside ESPA's existing procedures, while at the same time, 'fine-tuning' it to fit the needs of staff members of ASC where necessary, while also bringing in tools from some other existing practices out there including NAS Prospects. Though in relation to how I am affected by Asperger's Syndrome, I find that I am able to memorise almost word-for-word much of the policies, what is difficult though is linking it together, but I am confident though that I am getting there.

Developing good practice by pooling together resources through multi-agency working will also be one of the themes that will be addressed at the 3rd National Conference on Adolescence to Adulthood with Autism next month. This is where the government and a variety of other agencies involved in service delivery need to take on board the recommendations within the Autism Act to ensure that services for people with ASC are planned and developed effectively through multi-agency working, including sharing and building upon good practice in existence, so that services aren't put in place, albeit with the best of intentions, but don't deliver. 

Be sure to 'fine-tune' in to this blog for further news from the world of Autism Works.

Friday 5 August 2011

Holiday Season

It is often said in the media industry that August is 'silly season' as far as newsworthy items go, which explains why local papers and news broadcasts this time of year tend fill up column inches and broadcast space with very trivial matters, including disputes over six bricks. At Autism Works  though, we try to see the 'silly season' as an opportunity to undertake tasks that normally pass us by during busier periods.

It feels so much quieter with Peter, the Managing Director, being away enjoying the remoteness of the Orkney Islands. Yes, it's his turn to do some island hopping now! However, to keep our followers interested and to show that there is much going on at Autism Works, we have started doing a daily post on the Autism Works Facebook wall, of any items related to autism, Asperger's Syndrome and software testing. We are taking it in turns to do choose and post items which hopefully our followers will find both interesting and entertaining.

When I first started working at Autism Works, Peter made it known to me that one of his favourite sites on Facebook was Artists and Autism. Artists and Autism is a Facebook group dedicated to raising awareness of autism through the arts. Those of you reading this blog who have visited or 'liked' this inspiring site on Facebook will know that there are some fantastic images here, and we are delighted that the page's admin Jeff Kellen has so kindly given us the green light to link images from Artists and Autism to the Autism Works Facebook page. Based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Jeff also helps adults with autism and Asperger's Syndrome find and maintain employment. You can read Jeff's inspiring story This Shell of Mine on the Autism Works Facebook wall.

Though it is felt by some that Facebook and other social networking sites have a lot to answer for, but when used responsibly, they can provide an outlet to express creativity, especially for those who are perhaps unable to do it in more conventional ways. Artists and Autism is a great example of where Facebook comes into its own, enabling people on the autistic spectrum to express their creativity as well as invite the world to see what people on the autistic spectrum can do. In Jeff's words, it is a way for people on the autistic spectrum to 'come out of their shell'.

I have continued working on the Autism Works Operational Manual this week, but in the meantime, look out for more wall posts next week including some images from Artists with Autism, as well as any further developments during the holiday season.