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Finding employment with a frog in your throat

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Our communications team were lucky to be joined by Phil Evans for two weeks of work experience. Phil is a huge advocate of helping people with Aspergers and Austism find work without stigmatism, and has even started his own business helping recruiters support this community.

Phil has put together a blog about his time at Bromford, and about Autism Awareness.

You can follow Phil on Twitter on @MyAutisticLife or visit his blog at

Now, over to Phil....

I think I have a good understanding of Bromford that comes from a family link with a mum who works in the customer service department, and also through my own endeavours to break down misconceptions of autism in self-employment.

Having had a chance to build a relationship with a lot of Bromford employees in the past through social media while I try to help people with autism who can be alert, clear, honest, loyal and passionate into work, I understand Bromford’s DNA. Be brave. Be different. Be good. Be commercial.

Living with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, gives me a challenge to work with. By being self-employed, while understanding how 2.2 million people in Great Britain are currently unemployed as a whole, I want to help the 79% of all British people with autism, as revealed by The National Autistic Society, who are looking to find a job.

Despite having the ability to be alert, clear, honest, loyal, passionate and precise, finding work is something people with autism have a struggle to achieve. By being confident and vocal myself, trying to take away any stigmas and worries created by autism is something I love doing.

In a bid to build a career of my own, I’ve been welcomed into the communications team at Bromford and have felt like a permanent employee. Not somebody on work experience!

Being part of an Autism Awareness session delivered by Kelly Joynes, a Colleague Development Co-ordinator at Bromford, has been the highlight of my placement.

By being proactive in asking if I could create a presentation and offers ways how Bromford’s Skills Officers could become autism-friendly, I had a chance to show how autism isn’t something to over-analyse. It can just be a series of nuances. A series of differences to acknowledge and embrace.

For example, try to avoid everyday phrases that lack real meaning and metaphors if you speak to somebody with autism. By having Asperger’s which, in my opinion, is a form of autism that is higher functioning than others, it can seem on the outside how there may be nothing unique about a person with autism but there are a lot of differences inside.

Saying “I’ll be there in a minute!” could mean the person with autism will expect you to be ready in a minute. If you say “I’ve got a frog in my throat”, you could cause a lot of confusion. Making allowances for things that may be said in a matter-of-fact way can break down barriers and allow the real beauty of autism to flourish.

Taking half-an-hour to chat to somebody with autism can accomplish a lot in understanding the desires and needs they have. Speaking to a person with autism or a loved one of a person with autism could create a framework for support that doesn’t need to include apprehension or fear.

Kelly has spoken highly of the presentation, as she says: “It gave everybody a unique insight into Asperger’s syndrome and autism.

“The session had humour and confidence, with an openness in answering any question which was valuable.”

During my work experience, I’ve felt genuinely accepted and have met a lot of lovely people. I’ve travelled to Bromford projects and have witnessed what is being done for not only Bromford customers, but also wider communities too.

I’ve had a chance to feel like I’m employed in a position where I represent others, rather than just representing myself as somebody who is self-employed. I’ve felt the pressure of working to deadlines, and I’ve loved making my colleagues and managers feel proud.

Finding a permanent job for myself by becoming employed and taking away a sense of misunderstanding for others will not be easy. I know that.

I’m also aware though that an open-minded approach can go a long way. Any employer with Bromford’s DNA could embrace that!