Regular contributor and autism ambassador Andrew Edwards reflects on his employment experiences…
At the age of seventeen, I started working at Manchester United Television (MUTV).
As a childhood United obsessive, who knew the history of the club inside and out, this was undoubtedly my dream job. My work placement at MUTV was initially only set to have been for a day. Nonetheless, I lasted eleven-and-a-half-years working at the television channel of my boyhood club as a Broadcast Statistician. My job entailed doing stats on all matches and programmes broadcast on the channel.
The attitude regarding my autism at MUTV was extremely progressive and well ahead of the curve. It has possibly not been caught up by most employers over 15 years later. Yes, mistakes were made by both sides, but there was a deep willingness to learn about autism expressed by MUTV staff and management.
I also learned at MUTV how to gauge different characters and personalities whilst developing a great sense of perception, enabling me to tremendously improve my people skills.
I left MUTV as my role had come to an end. I left on extremely good terms as the time had come for a change. I am still in close contact with around a dozen of the people I worked with over that period.
On the wider subject, regarding employers giving autistic people a job, I am against “positive discrimination”. I have had to learn extra skills, including how to promote myself to get non-profit, motivational-speaking engagements and, at events selling the three books I have had published, deal with a vast range of people including working with autistic youngsters.
Recently, I have had to put on different “hats” regularly in any given week, sometimes several in one day in my various current roles. I have learned extra skills, which I thought I didn’t have, that I can use in a practical way in any future relationships in my personal life, whilst gaining a wider range of confidence.
The future appears bright for me as in August 2020 a role is set to be potentially offered to me, after due process, at Brymbo Heritage Group in Wrexham. I am really looking forward to this.
Andrew is the author of ‘I’ve Got a Stat for You – My Life with Autism’, and ‘A Vision of Exercise’. You can find out more about Andrew, get in touch and order his books online, here: www.andrewedwardsautism.co.uk