Friday 23 December 2011

Boy's Weekend & Season's Greetings

As a special treat for Christmas, I am giving readers of this blog a special Christmas present of a second entry this week, an early present for the big day arrives on Sunday.

In my last entry, I mentioned that the festive cheer didn’t end with the feature for Tyne Tees and the carols service, as there was something else that came early this Christmas, which also reflects one of the social aspects that we had hoped to develop at Autism Works. Instead of writing about common themes in this entry such as reasonable adjustments , recruitment processes, software testing techniques etc. to get us all into festive spirit I am going to focus on the social aspects of working at Autism Works, especially since our employee base has grown since this time last year.

Having experienced high-level social isolation as well as rejection, something that I have found during my adventure with Autism Works is that one of the best ways out of these two states for many people with Asperger’s Syndrome is through access to employment that not only matches their skills and qualifications, but just as importantly, where they feel included and valued. Last week, for the first time, I went on a ‘boy's weekend’ to Prague in the Czech Republic with a colleague from Autism Works, Daniel, who joined us as a software test analyst earlier in the year. The Czech Republic is famous for beer, but before anyone gets excited, for Daniel and I it wasn’t that kind of boy's weekend!

For Daniel, the trip to Prague was a big step, as it was the first time that he had been overseas other than with his family, opening him up to a new world, while for me it is something that I am largely used to. Something that we both had in common on this trip though was that it was our first time in Prague for both of us. Despite a bit of a false start when Dan inadvertently found out that the Post Office had given him the wrong currency, giving him Danish Kronas rather than Czech Karunas, once we got it sorted we both thoroughly enjoyed our time there. I had been told beforehand that Prague was supposed to be quite spectacular at Christmas, and indeed the city lived up to such suggestions. The Christmas Markets in the Old Town Square were beautiful.

Christmas Markets in the Old Town Square, Prague
While in Prague, we met with a friend of mine who lives in Prague, Barbora Studihiradova, with whom I had done the Routeburn Trek in New Zealand back in 2010. 

Me, Daniel and Barbora at the Czech Inn Hostel, Prague
While doing this trek, little did I know that back home, Autism Works was little more than a twinkle in the eyes of Peter Macdonald and Lesley Lane, Chief Executive of ESPA. Little over a year later, the inception and progression of Autism Works has provided me with a job that I enjoy and where, most importantly, I feel that my quality of life has improved dramatically, as I highlighted in the Tyne Tees feature, as well as introducing me to new people, including Daniel, to whom Autism Works and ESPA through giving him his Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis has introduced to a completely new world after a period of personal difficulties.

The Routeburn Trek , New Zealand, 2010. Barbora is standing next to me to my right behind the sign
All staff at Autism Works as well as all those who have been involved with the company would like to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and all the best for 2012, when this blog will resume again.

Season's Greetings Everyone!

Following on from our Tyne Tees feature, Peter and I did an interview for BBC Radio Newcastle this week, which you can listen to clicking here Jump to 37.16 

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