For Autism Awareness month, we will be hearing from Georgia, our marketing SEO assistant. She has offered to speak about her experience with autism in the work place to bring awareness and experience.

My autism story, diagnosis and history

My autism is a huge part of my life. It is always there and has such an effect on your life whether you like it or not. It’s not something that gets better with time or disappears, it’s with you for life. From my social life and relationships to my interests and hobby’s. Autism plays a part in everything, viewing the world in a way unfamiliar to the neurotypical eye. People like me may appear blunt, to the point and sometimes a bit harsh but really, we are just like anyone else. We feel deeply, we’re human.

But with villainization of autism and stigma around my disability I do struggle with my own set of challenges not only in my day to day life but in the work place and in professional settings.

For me, I was diagnosed very late. Receiving my official diagnosis in November 2018 at the age of 21. As shocking as this may seem, this is incredibly common especially in women. Because of this, it means many like myself struggle when adjusting into adult life after spending childhood and our teenage years masking and hiding our condition. ‘Masking’ is a term used as a subconscious coping tool in order to appear socially acceptable, meaning we learn behaviour from those around us not on the spectrum in order to be accepted. This is a very exhausting process and can lead to problems with identity or other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. This also can cause misdiagnosis’s for young girls, meaning they aren’t treated correctly. Unfortunately, this was my story. Not getting my diagnosis until my first year of University.

Autism in the future and my worries

Leaving university, I was constantly surrounded by anxiety about how I would cope in the work place, fearful of my disability limiting my chances of having a ‘normal life’. Most work I have done has been really hard for several reasons. I have always been more academic along with always having had big aspirations and wanted to take part in a good career in order to give myself the advantage and prove I’m more than my condition when in the past people never wanted to give me the chance. I’ve worked in retail and catering as I think most teenagers with first time jobs do and really struggled. Finding each day exhausting and when I explain myself and why I’m struggling I’m deemed to be making excuses. Feeling misunderstood and ashamed because of it.

Covid had a huge effect on my wellbeing and I wondered how this would affect my life. I quit my previous job after coming off furlough and then being taken advantage of by the company I was working for at the time. Then going on Universal credit which at first, I was worried about feeling worried because of stereotypes and fearful about being seen as someone who isn’t trying when I have been constantly trying to good every day. But when kickstart was announced my universal credit coach was super supportive. Letting me know there was nothing wrong with me and she’d help me find somewhere that’ll embrace me for who I am and not discriminate against me. Stressing the importance of being in a job that was going to have a positive effect on me as a person.

That’s where I was discovered by White Lantern. Who when the moment I mentioned being autistic were immediately kind and wanted to know how they could help make my time at the work place a much more comfortable and pleasant experience? This really gave me security and I felt safe talking about my condition for the first time in a very long time. In my experience so far with White Lantern I have felt nothing but friendliness and warmth amongst staff and colleagues alike.

My autism in the present

For me, being given the same opportunities as other people around me, I no longer feel disinclined or cast out. I no longer feel ashamed about expressing my needs. Especially with the White Lantern Team and my fellow marketing team.

I cannot wait to continue my opportunity and enhance my CV for future career prospects. Eventually I would love to create an organisation or charity raising awareness and creating a safe space for girls with autism. Educating workplace professionals on the best ways to cater and help their autistic staff.

My final thoughts

At the end of it all, people with autism are just like any other human. We have gifts, we just want to be able to share them with the world and be ourselves whole heartedly and truthfully. Be kind, be patient and most importantly; give your autistic friends, family, colleagues the chance to speak up. Make sure you ask how they are and be attentive if they have a concern or feel safe around you. Be supportive and understanding. It can be hard at times, but believe me when I say. If I can benefit from being listened to, it means I can perform at my absolute best when my environment helps me thrive and encourages me to be the hard-working individual I always desired to be.

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