Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Autism - Business Strengths

A strange myth about autism and business?  That autistic people are 'out there somewhere', and that businesses have to find ways to include us.  That all of us are some kind of 'worthy charitable inclusion act'. That we are a cost.  I have news; you already have autistic people in your business lives.  They're probably the ones making you a profit right now.

Generalising - as of course every autistic person is different, and non-autistic people do these things too:

Using the internet?  Autistic people built and run that.
Using computers?  Autistic people design and build those and the software.
Using Accountants?  Autistic people are excellent with figures and deadly accurate.

Using Lawyers?  Autistic people are brilliant at memorising thousands of case studies and knowing precisely which laws apply to a situation.
Using Surveyors?  Autistic sensory abilities can detect problems in buildings well before anyone else can.  Autistic 'nonsense-detecting' means you're more likely to get a fair and straightforward, accurate property negotiation.
Using a creative team? Autistic designers, artists, authors are applying extraordinary strengths and abilities to 'think outside the box', to create something amazing.

Do young autistic people have a fair chance of employment?  No.  Most are never given a chance to show what they can do.  I'm working to change that.  I can't change that without being 'out' as autistic myself.   So, I am.  And if you care about young autistic people being given a fair chance, you'll want to support people like me, I'd hope.  Can all autistic people go into employment and do a fabulous job?  No, some have a level of difficulty that means this isn't possible.  Does that mean they are a burden to society?  Absolutely not.  Every autistic person is a person of value, bringing things to this world.  It's definitely not about 'can you make big money'.  But, it's important to say that many of us can.  Even those of us who started non-verbal and sometimes still are.

I run a business.  I'm autistic.  It's our business.  Fantastic team employed.  Offices in the Thames Valley and central London. Is it some sort of charity-supported social enterprise?  Nope.  This is Professional business, fully Regulated, competing directly with the 'big guys'.  And lovely competitors they are, too.  We're blessed with fabulous customers who know that we deal fairly with everyone. We have a brilliant team of Accountants, Lawyers and website gurus who are thoroughly nice, genuine, professional people.  

We love what we do.

"Surely you must be at a disadvantage, being autistic, Ann?', some say.   Nope.  It's just different.  Autism is why we are the only business of our type in the UK that has an unbroken track record of accuracy, to our knowledge (and the knowledge of our Insurers).  An unbroken track record of zero claims for losses.  

Is it sometimes hard?  Yes.  Because we get some myths about autism, and those aren't helpful.  Because we also get a very few people who are just plain prejudiced and who ignore the fantastic track record and decide they don't do business with 'people like that'. That's OK - there's lots of less accurate firms to choose from.  Because we get a very few competitors who think they'll win more business if they tell people some myths about we don't get the work.   Most are lovely, of course.

We love our business, and we love being the 'eyes and ears' of our clients, making sure that they make as much profit as possible, in as wise and moral a way as possible.  

If you find an autistic business, the correct phrase to utter is 'brilliant!'

You'll find any number of autistic people around you already.  Many may not know they're autistic.  Many may have hidden it for years, concerned about whether they will encounter an unfortunate reaction.

Make your own business 'autism including'.  Find out about difference, and about what autism really is (a sensory/social communication difference, present from birth, not a mental illness).  Get some training for the staff.  Brilliant autistic trainers available for that. 

Be clear that you value what people bring, and are relaxed about doing business with all kinds of people.  

Because together, we're stronger.

The picture at the top shows piles of coins, with a red arrow showing the amount of profit a business is making.  The arrow is going upwards, showing increased profit.