Looking ahead to World Autism Acceptance Week on the 28th of March – 3rd of April 2022, we felt it was an appropriate time to highlight the importance of driving opportunities for meaningful work for all individuals. In February 2021, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released disappointing statistics showing that only 22% of autistic individuals are employed in any capacity.

At Wellhead Electrical Supplies (WES), we strive to help make the world a more autism-friendly environment as employers. We are encouraged to see that many other companies are also helping to drive this forward. As a result, companies are making significant progress in accommodating autistic employees.

To better understand how employers can create an autism-friendly environment, we spoke to Cameron Flett, our Warehouse Assistant, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to learn about his experience and challenges. We also spoke with Dave Urquhart, our Inside Sales Representative, to get his perspective as his son was also diagnosed with ASD.


Understanding ASD and the Workplace

Employers need to value all employees equally and to realise that people diagnosed with ASD have many skills and qualifications to offer employers. When given support and time to develop into a role, those with ASD will prove themselves and show their strong capabilities.

Since employing Cameron, we have noticed that he has been incredibly thorough and accurate in his work. This has been fantastic, and we have learned this is a trait that comes from being diagnosed with ASD. Cameron shared that autistic people are generally good timekeepers and good at repetitive tasks. They will also often be loyal to a company for giving them the opportunity when offered a job. Additionally, they are often less likely to waste unnecessary time chatting to others. Instead, they prefer to get on with their work, and they usually like tidy and organised environments. They are very effective staff members and great assets to any team.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding and support, people with ASD are generally disadvantaged when finding and retaining a job. However, Dave explained that seeing Cameron working in the workshop does bring hope for his son and the potential he may be able to achieve.


Have You Faced Challenges with ASD in the WorkPlace, and How Have You Overcome Them?

Cameron Flett:

Since starting my job at WES, my colleagues have supported me well and made allowances for my condition. When someone with ASD starts a job, they confront additional unnecessary hurdles due to a lack of employer awareness and support. For myself, initially, I felt uncomfortable working with people I didn’t know, but this soon passed. Once I get to know people, I’m more comfortable dealing with them, and this confidence grows over time.

I faced another challenge when dealing with delivery and collection drivers, which has taken time to get used to. On some occasions, I would find myself double-checking orders I had picked to ensure they were correct, even when I was confident they were okay. My colleague Craig started by giving me some basic tasks to deal with van drivers. Now I can do most things when drivers arrive at the Warehouse desk. I’m also more confident in my ability to pick orders without checking several times.

What Would You Say to People Who are Struggling to Secure a Job Due to ASD?

Cameron Flett:

I would tell them to keep trying and advise employers that they are on the autistic spectrum, as you never know when a break might come, and you are offered a job you like. I applied for many jobs, and sometimes, I was required to say I was autistic. In some cases, I was offered an interview, and on other occasions, I didn’t even receive a reply. Either way, it is important to highlight that you are on the spectrum at the interview stage. This is because employers may need to be prepared to offer more support and guidance to ensure they have an autism-friendly working environment if they don’t already.


Creating and Supporting an Autism-Friendly Environment

Cameron has been well supported at WES, and it has been a learning curve for both parties. It is important to note that everyone on the spectrum has different needs and as such, varying adjustments may be needed in the workplace. Communicating in a larger company might be more difficult, but being part of a smaller team where colleagues get to know them better may be more manageable. Therefore, employers must ensure all team members get to know the individuals on the autistic spectrum and learn how they can support them.

This support impacts the individual with ASD and reassures other team members who may have reservations about disabilities’ rights. As Dave explains, “It’s great to see a company look beyond someone’s diagnosis and give them the opportunity to prove themselves.”

Here are some steps on how employers can help create and support an autism-friendly workplace:

  1. Provide structure and routine
    While unexpected change is unavoidable, keeping things as predictable and constant as possible can help manage expectations and anxiety levels.
  2. Think about sensory aspects
    Are certain rooms over stimulating? It may be a good idea to provide a relaxation space in the workplace: e.g. a quiet room. Or even think about how you can help reduce sensory distraction/overload in the workplace. This can be done by using natural light, enabling easy control of light and temperature and reducing strong smells.
  3. Provide visual resources (if required)
    Support can be as easy as providing tools to assist personal work organisation, such as visual timetables and organiser apps. They help emphasise less on memory and are easier to make sense of than verbal instructions (especially when stressed or anxious).
  4. Include ASD in harassment and bullying policies
    Including this aims to prevent harassment and bullying, ensuring that those who bully or discriminate against autistic workers will be held accountable.


At WES, we want to raise awareness around employing autistic people. Thank you, Cameron and Dave, for allowing us to share your experience and stories.

Find out how your organisation can make minor adjustments that make a big difference to autistic people by reading this guide. If you want to learn more on this topic, please check out the employment section on the National Autism Society website.

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