The NHS UK asked consultant, author & psychological therapist Michael Padraig Acton and NHS employee Tom Goble to be part of a training video for World Autism Day.
Within this video, they discuss Tom’s diagnosis of Asperger’s in his early 20s, growing up with autism, his educational and social life, and his mental wellbeing.
Tom explains the importance of going into professional life with an employer who understands his needs. He felt he was different rather than deficient – so wanted to take part in this video training to advocate for neuro-diversity at the trust.
Difficulty in group environments and moving between different environments.
The NHS is the same as any corporate in the world – it’s demanding on its people and Tom demands a little more understanding than most. Not because he isn’t as intelligent, or as able as his peers, but because his enemy is chaos and disloyalty, in his nature.
Being moved around frequently within the NHS left Tom feeling as though he was the problem at times, which was not the case. Michael identifies that this shows there needs to be some simple parameters for people working with ASD people (which is very different for every person). But introducing this can lead to better understanding and, therefore, kindness.
Tom and Michael also discuss how have the experiences affected Tom’s life and how people can help.
How can we best help people to understand how to be with an ASD person?
Tom asks that people acknowledge communication and body language will be different, and explains that it’s hard to live with the fact that he has so much to offer but is rarely given the opportunity to share it. Accepting neurodiversity is a huge step in the right direction.
Working for companies who merely consider profit and gain, rather than the value of an employee, was an unappealing prospect – working for the NHS and feeling valued for knowledge and strength has been particularly helpful.
What advice did Michael Padraig Acton offer Tom?
The biggest take-out was: ask for help. But how should you ask for help? Making it easier for people to communicate and seek support can help an ASD person feel more open to talking about their feelings in the workplace and ask for help.
Michael also suggested that employers consider the mental health problems, which can arise from a lack of understanding about ASD.
Tom wanted to use his life experience to encourage more good things that the trust does. Please share this article and video to open conversations in your workplace.