Meet Patrick! - raising awareness for autism in the workplace
It was towards the end of a gossipy 3-hour coffee with an ex-colleague, when I asked, “What does your son do?!”
Her adult son is on the autistic spectrum, and this started me down the path of discovering how people like him can face more challenges in adulthood, as they leave the security of the educational system. If you’ve seen the Louis Theroux documentary, Autism, Extreme Love, you’ll start to understand what I mean. Little though there is, special schools can provide structure, support and strategies for the entire family. But post 18 years old, all this largely disappears and these families are left to cope alone. It was following this documentary when we decided to ‘Meet Patrick’.
The National Autistic Society indicates that just 15% of adults with autism are in full time employment and for so many it is a difficult journey into independent life because of the lack of awareness about autism in the workplace. We had no idea of the implications, but we started our research.
When we met Patrick, he was not in employment…but we soon discovered that he is a super-talented young man with a natural gift for drawing. We invited him to produce some character drawings one morning in the office and we were bowled over by his ability to interpret and develop ideas. From here, we began to ask like-minded clients, like Stephen Hemsley, Domino’s Pizza Group PLC and Rebecca Neuman-Comrie, Siemens to support Patrick with a few projects to leverage what he absolutely loves doing. It wasn’t long before we realised how we were tapping into a talent that opened our business up to a whole new area of time-lapsed illustrations called “Creative Visualisations”.
In a world of computer generated animation, our clients are delighted with the authenticity of hand-drawn illustration and, more importantly, that together we are committed to providing an opportunity to expose new talent from the autistic spectrum. We’re a start-up company, so getting Patrick to working on a full time basis may take a while. But one year later, we have a win-win situation where Patrick has taken the first steps towards leading the independent life he so desires and Video2web has the making of an exciting new offering that the likes of Siemens, Franchise Brands, the Marist School and ATS have embraced.
If you are interested in raising awareness for autism in the workplace, please ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ this article and watch Employable Me, the BBC Two documentary on jobseekers with neurological conditions like autism.