Late diagnosis and employment

Growing up, I didn’t reach my developmental milestones. My worried parents took me to see a psychologist. After the assessment, she told my parents I’d never be able to write my own name or tie my shoelaces – had she asked, she would have known that I could already write my name. Needless to say; my parents were put off seeking help for a while after that. I wasn’t given much help in school, as there were more ‘problematic’ students.

I knew that I didn’t quite fit in at school, but I didn’t know why

Due to not having guidance on socialising I was bullied and had a breakdown, I wasn’t in any fit state to concentrate so I would go to school and sometimes be there for morning and afternoon registration but skip the lessons and sit out of the way reading women’s magazines. I missed so many classes that I didn’t initially obtain the required 5 GCSEs. This brings me to an important point: secondary school is frequently when children notice people who are a little ‘different’.

Having a diagnosis and being helped to fit in could mean that that child does better in their studies

With insufficient resources available, fewer children will be given timely support and diagnoses. This leads to struggling to find work and government money spent on benefits when more people could be working and paying taxes.

Before entering higher education, I had a diagnosis; it was for a developmental condition but not Autism. However, I had a diagnosis and this diagnosis gave me access to software to help organise my work and extra time for any assessments. The test that proved I was neurodivergent also showed that I had a high level of verbal fluency, and that I was in the top 1% for vocabulary.

I was told that I was very capable and that there was a lot I could do in terms of employment, but I never really got to discover my potential as a lot of employers weren’t willing to take me on due to my interview performance

I do feel that being diagnosed as neurodivergent in time for higher education enabled me to access adjustments which helped me to reach my full potential in terms of education. I think that education can be important to the career path of autistic people. Someone who is not autistic can for example take a job and rise up the ranks and gain promotion in a given field due to their social skills. If you are autistic, issues with social skills might mean that you’re less likely to be a line manager. However, autistic people could be promoted in fields where social skills aren’t as required, as they have a special skillset/knowledge which they’ve gained through focusing on their area of interest and that make them an asset – these jobs are often the ones which require a higher education qualification.

For the most part I’ve temped, as temp jobs are easier to get into, because the interviews are less formal

After leaving university I worked in a range of temping jobs.