Autism and the workplace
|Article based on Press release received April 1 2022 from Barbour AP!. Lucy Hilary, is a researcher at Barbour ABI.
Barbour ABI is a leading construction intelligence provider. Lucy Hilary is one of Barbour ABI’s top researchers and she has autism. She is very keen to spread awareness and acceptance of autism and has led the company’s week of events to highlight the condition.
Despite being very sociable and outgoing Lucy finds noise, crowded spaces, and small talk difficult and this has been a barrier to her succeeding in workplaces in the past. “I was being treated like a child and not being listened to”, explained Lucy. “The thing with working in an office was I had a massive issue with the noise of typing on a keyboard. It would paralyse me and invoke internalised rage that I would have to manage to appear calm on the outside but on the inside, I was exploding”
Lucy did extremely well at school and university but was told by one employer that she wouldn’t be suitable for their graduate trainee programme, despite having a degree. “I had big ambitions I wanted to be a manager and do well and be successful,” Lucy explained. “Throughout my 20s I realised this was never going to happen for me and by the end of my 20s I had stopped applying for higher paid positions with more responsibility because I had always been told I wasn’t good enough.”
Things changed for Lucy when she started to work at Barbour ABI her first role where she had an official diagnosis of autism and was able to ask for reasonable adjustments. Lockdowns during COVID increased anxiety for Lucy about returning to working in an office, but her manager, the HR team and senior leadership at Barbour ABI took the time to try to understand her condition and what she needed to flourish in her role.
“It was decided I would create my own timetable on returning to work and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. There was also no pressure to keep to the timetable. It gave me a sense of control,” said Lucy. “I was sat in the corner by the window but still on a bank of researchers, so I felt part of the team and I was facing the door and allowed to use my own headphones.
“With this newfound support I am now the top researcher in the department and am often asked for input on different elements of the job to see my take on it. Sometimes I will be asked to look at projects to see if I can find out new information because I have a knack at looking at something and knowing if something isn’t quite right or finding out something new to point us in a better direction.”
Jamie Cullen, Head of Research at Barbour ABI said: “Lucy is a fantastic and valued member of the team. By listening to her and trying to understand her needs we were able to make a number of very minor adjustments from our side that made the world of difference to her. She is now thriving, and we are able to benefit from her unique insights that come from a slightly different way of looking at things. If we didn’t support Lucy properly those insights would be lost, and the company and our clients would be worse off.”
“I can’t be cured, nor would I want to be”, said Lucy. “Autism is not a disability it is the wrong environment. If you took away my noise cancelling headphones, made me sit in the middle of people and treated me like everyone else, I would not be able to succeed in my job.”
Lucy Hilary, a researcher at Barbour ABI, is campaigning to raise the acceptance of people with autism.
Her blog can be found https://www.barbour-abi.com/autism-acceptance-week-2022/
 About Barbour ABI
Founded more than 80 years ago, Barbour ABI delivers market-leading intelligence for the construction industry. With the largest UK-based team of construction research experts making more than one million calls to key decision makers every year, the details and data Barbour ABI uncovers give its customers a real competitive edge.
Barbour ABI’s information is trusted by the UK’s governing bodies and leading organisations, including the Office for National Statistics and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which is responsible for collecting, collating, and publishing the construction pipeline for HM government.
60 years ago a group of parents of autistic children founded a charity to fight for autistic people's rights.
In 1962, a group of parents with autistic children set up what would go on to become the National Autistic Society. At the time, there was no provision for autistic children, who were often diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia and sent to institutions. In 1965 John Lennon donated £1,000 to help set up the world's first school specifically for autistic children in West London. 10 years later Sybil Elgar and parents of children at the school opened the UK’s first residential service for autistic adults, in Somerset, helping them to feel more independent and part of society. By the 90's the Centre for Social and Communication Disorders was opened at Elliot House in Bromley by Dr Lorna Wing who some years earlier had developed the term ‘the autistic spectrum’ with Dr Judith Gould. In 2009 the Autism Act, requiring a government strategy for improving services for autistic adults, underpinned by legally binding guidance to councils in England. In 2019 Autism at Work Programme was started in association with the Bloomfield Trust, to help increase the number of autistic people in sustainable paid employment. 2022 is the 60th Anniversary of the National Autistic Society.
 World Autism Acceptance Week
World Autism Acceptance Week Is held each year with a variety of different information campaigns and events designed to raise awareness and acceptance of autism. World Autism Acceptance Week ran from 28 March to 3 April 2022
Leading construction intelligence provider, Barbour ABI, is one of the few companies in the UK to recognise and enjoy the benefits of employing an autistic person. To celebrate National Autism Acceptance Day on Apr 2 the company is helping to shine a light on the condition and what businesses can do to harness the unique skills people with the condition can bring to the workplace.
for further information see the following link: https://www.barbour-abi.com/autism-acceptance-week-2022/
- A-Z of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
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