top of page

(UK) BBC: Only 22% of ASD adults employed; 1 in 7 British are "neurodivergent"

Nov 1, 2021, BBC News: Autism: Workplaces 'need to be more supportive'

Alice Banfield, 25, from Cardiff, said overstimulation and lack of communication led her to have an anxiety attack while working as a shop assistant. "It didn't really encourage me to seek employment after that," she said. Figures suggest just 22% of autistic adults in the UK are in employment. After graduating, Alice took a part-time job as a seasonal shop assistant. "It was very traumatising to me at the time," she said. She said she was not given clear instructions, struggled to read her colleagues' and customers' body language and was overstimulated by the busy and bright environment. Disclosing her autism did not help. "It was really stressful and put a lot of anxiety on to me and to the point I had an anxiety attack during one of my shifts. "It really triggered [a lack of] trust in working with others and didn't really encourage me to seek employment again after that." Alice is now a freelance artist and aims to educate people about autism through her work. "I just don't feel like there is much support regarding employment for autistic people," she said. An estimated one in seven people in the UK are neurodivergent, which includes people with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, the autism spectrum and other neurological functions…. 'Overwhelming situation' "Starting a job is going to be one of the most overwhelming things for an autistic individual because you haven't met your colleagues... you don't know the environment, you don't know the parameters of your job, and all these things can create a really overwhelming situation," she said She suggested offering autistic employees a job induction, a mentor and taking the "burden of asking for accommodations off the autistic person and managed by someone who has been trained in working in a neuro-diverse environment". Sound-cancelling headphones, "a quiet space in which no-one comes to find you" to retreat to when feeling over-stimulated and individual work spaces to give employees "a safe space to return to" would also help, she said. She said most of the changes would benefit everyone…. The Welsh government's new Code of Practice for Delivery of Autism Services came into effect in September. It also published a delivery plan where raising employers' awareness of autism and the code is listed as top priority. The Welsh government said it was "committed to improving the lives of autistic people and access to meaningful employment opportunities is an essential part of this". It said it had recently appointed five disabled people's employment champions to help close the employment gap between disabled people and the rest of the working population.

bottom of page