I was approached by the Burton and Lichfield Chamber of Commerce to write a blog about Autism in the Workplace.

In this blog I will be talking about autistic people that sit on the high functioning part of the autistic spectrum. I am not medically trained; by education and career I am a nuclear marine engineer. My knowledge and understanding are based upon 50 years of personal experience and a great deal of more of the understanding behind the autistic condition I have received from my consultant psychiatrist and consultant psychologist who specialises in autism.

About 3 years ago at the age of 47 I was diagnosed with Asperger’s condition, which is a “high functioning” part of the autistic spectrum (ASD). My diagnosis also included having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which is commonly associated with ASD.

One of the difficulties that those of us with ASD have is reading and understanding non-verbal communication . About 70% of the communication between people is non-verbal with the remaining 30% being verbal. One of the many characteristics associated with ASD is that it is (sometimes very) difficult for us to read and interpret body language with the consequently effects thereof. The corollary of this being that those of us with ASD rely almost entirely on only the 30% of all inter-personnel communication and as such do not see, understand or comprehend the remaining 70%.

Imagine living in a country where you can only understand / read about 30% of the its vocabulary. No matter what you do, and because of your genetics, you find it incredibly difficult to learn any more of the language and vocabulary? This is our world.

Within the workplace environment poor communication can often result in a breakdown of understanding individuals. As such people can sometimes be viewed as being difficult to manage, understand and work with. Unless you can effectively communicate with those who have ASD (and a huge majority of people can’t) then resentment and frustration can build up.

Invariably this is down to a fundamental misunderstanding of how those of us who are autistic people process and respond to information. Consequently, these highly intelligent employees are often poorly managed and their skills under-utilised.

Autism is covered under the Equality Act of 2010 (see Page 41 of Equality Act 2010 Guidance) as such carries the same requirement to make adequate adjustment for autistic employees as any other “disability” (as it is deemed). As well as communication difficulties this Act also covers many other characteristics that those of us with ASD have that may be require reasonable adjustment to be made.

At Warneken Consulting we can provide training and advice to businesses on effective communication and management of your autistic employees.

There are many other considerations associated with the autistic condition that can affect the requirement to provide adequate adjustment at work.

If you are interested in learning more about any training / advice I may be able to provide to your business please contact me via email or via my website.

This article can also be found on the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce website.

Gordon Baker, Coach & Mentor at RTC Leadership & Coaching

“Andrew created a safe space for me to explore a very challenging situation for which I needed a way forward.

He provided good open questions, a balanced challenge which made me think deeply but constructively about key aspects of my circumstances and helped me identify some blind spots that were a barrier to moving forward.

I am sure that this is one of the most productive hours I have spent in conversation in recent years, with some actions to follow. Thanks Andrew; great job!!”

Tracey Hartshorn, provides inspirational support for awesome Mental Health Be Proud ~ Be True ~ Be You

Tracey managed Andrew directly. February 5, 2021.

“I know Andrew through the coaching network, Reach for the Moon, where he is a regular contributor to our discussions about all aspects of coaching.

Andrew has a really unique style as a coach which undoubtedly stems from his engineering and military experience. I really appreciate his structured input which helps to ground our discussions. He is clearly very knowledgeable about his practice and also about the positive impact that coaching can have with regard to neurodiversity. His ability to cross the boundaries of engineering, coaching and different ways of thinking is really helpful to our coaching network.

If you are looking for a coach who offers a structured approach with a clear focus on outcomes and results, I would highly recommend contacting Andrew.”

Lesley Butlin, Psychotherapist, Supervisor, Mindset Coach, and Trainer Co-Facilitator of Reach for the Moon – Network for Coaches

Andrew was a client of Lesley’s. February 8, 2021.

“Andrew has attended several of our Reach for the Moon Network for Coaches events. He is open, honest and shows integrity when discussing the issues that arise in his coaching practice.

Andrew is a pleasure to have in our groups, bringing a wealth of experience, knowledge and skill from other areas of his working life.

I thoroughly recommend you contact Andrew, to discuss how he can coach you to deal with the issues you want to address.”

Kamal Hanif OBE, CEO at Waverley Education Foundation

Kamal was a client of Andrew’s. February 8, 2021.

“The coaching sessions have helped me to deal with very complex staffing issues and matters, and helped me to frame how to deal with the issues. Decluttering mentally and being focussed on resolving and finding solutions. Creating a structure and timeline to enable the progress of the organisation and bringing on trustees in supporting the decisions that need to be made and their role within processes.

All this has helped in resolving matters to enable me to lead more effectively and move the trust forward and now begin to finalise structures and systems to enable both running of the trust. It has also enabled me to seriously consider my own well-being and looking at my own workalike balance in what I wish to achieve and the balance for the future.

Thank you for all your support in helping me to find the solutions and having the headspace to do so.”