Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New TV show to highlight difficulties of autistic people in job hunting

employedThe BBC has announced it is to make a “groundbreaking” programme in which people with learning disabilities from autism and Tourette’s to ADHD and Down’s Syndrome attempt to find jobs.

The series, with the working title Employ Me, will explore “a radical new emerging idea in science: that neurological conditions shouldn’t always be looked at in negative terms”. The people featured will be “qualified and/or capable” individuals who have spent years trying to find work.

Currently, the employment rate for people with autism is just 15 per cent.

Find out more: Pathways to employment making it work for autistic people (17 September, Birmingham)

Prof Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, is advisor on the BBC Two programme and says “the concept of ‘neurodiversity’ reminds us that there isn’t a single way to be ‘normal’”.

“In the case of Asperger syndrome, it is particular clear that people can have the diagnosis and have skills and even strengths, alongside their disabilities. Employers need to make reasonable adjustments to enable people with such neurological conditions to enjoy the same benefits that employment brings as other people do.

“And once employers have opened their eyes to how to make it easier for such people to make their contribution in the work place, they may even discover how the person with the diagnosis is actually better than other employees in certain invaluable ways.For the person with the diagnosis, employment – with the right support – may be a powerful way to change their life immeasurably for the better and prevent the negative impact on mental health, such as depression, that is associated with unemployment.”

See the likes of Dr Glenys Jones (Honorary Lecturer and Researcher in the Autism Centre for Education and Research) and Joe Powell (National Director, People First Wales) speak about pathways into sustainable employment for autistic people at our upcoming event – find out more here.

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