Opinion Former Article

Disabilities Trust: Transition to employment training film launch

On 6 March, The Disabilities Trust launched a series of training films aimed at encouraging employers to give jobs to more young people with autism. The launch took place at Heathermount, the Trust's specialist school in Ascot for children and young people with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome.

Watch the first two training films: Start Up and Stress Free

Local MP Adam Afriyie and representatives from Barclays attended the launch. Barclays have generously funded the production of the DVDs under their 'Banking on Brighter Futures' programme. Adam Afriyie MP and Julia Husband, Head of Community Relations South gave a short talk before the showing of one of the films, Stress Free.

Barclays brought the Barclays Premier League Trophy to the launch and students had the opportunity to have their photograph taken with it.

The Disabilities Trust has developed these four films with the ultimate goal of enabling more students with autism to progress into work. The DVDs will be aimed at primarily employers, but also practitioners, teachers, work colleagues, families and community groups. Heathermount has a reputation for delivering high quality training methods and we plan to extend this to a wider audience.

Statistics show that in the UK only around 12% of children with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome find their way into the workplace. Part of the reason for this is that few employers have an understanding of autism and are often reluctant to offer a job to somebody with this condition.

We felt that we needed to show employers that people with autism are a valuable addition to the workforce. They are enthusiastic, hardworking, and can bring attention to detail and conscientiousness to the job, but the nature of autism means that they don't always experience the world in the way that we do. This means that we must make sure when we are giving instructions or sharing information that we make things clear and communicate in a way that is easily understood. The guidance given in the films shows how, with very few changes to the way that we work, employers and work colleagues can achieve this.

The four films include: Start Up, an acronym which stands for Situation, Think, Adapt, Remind, Task, Understand and Persevere. Each section of the film shows how these elements of guidance can help provide a productive and enjoyable environment for people with autism and their employers and colleagues; Stress Free demonstrates how to help people with autism avoid stress and anxiety in the workplace; Bridging The Gap shows how real-life work environments are created for students at Heathermount to prepare them for work placements and ultimately full-time employment; Making the Connection for Work shows students in the workplace, using all the skills they have learned.

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