Being autistic in the Civil Service
My name is Jasmine, and I am on the Autism Exchange Programme at the Civil Service working as part of the Social Care Funding Reform and Evidence Strategy team, where I have been looking at research on the cost of providing care.
This has been a really positive experience for me so I’d like to give some advice and information which may help other autistic Civil Servants and the people who work with them.
Asking for reasonable adjustments in the workplace
At first, I was really struggling with this placement. The hours weren’t working for me and I couldn’t concentrate on back to back to back meetings. I spoke to my manger and Ambitious About Autism about my issues and they were able to help to look at solutions. I highly urge anyone who is struggling to speak with their managers to see if there is anything they can change which will make things easier for you.
Reducing my work hours
Due to my fatigue levels working a seven-and-a-half-hour day was making me feel quite ill. I have now reduced my hours and I am taking more breaks throughout the day. This has meant I don’t feel ill anymore, and I am more productive at work.
Making meetings easier
I found meetings emotionally draining. It is difficult for me to pretend to be “normal” for long periods of meetings. Now I take five minutes out after meetings even if I have another straight afterwards. I was quite worried about doing this, but everyone has been really nice about it.
During meetings I find it easier to not have camera on a lot of the time. This means I don’t have to worry what my face is doing and can concentrate on what is going on in the meeting. However, this is not always the case in one-to-one meetings as I don’t find these as difficult.
It is also helpful to be told in advance if I am going to need to introduce myself or speak during a meeting so that I can practice what I am going to say before hand and have a note ready just in case I freeze up when I’m talking and need a reminder of what to say.
Getting to know people before I started
Before I started my placement, I was sent one-page profiles for my buddy and manager. This helped me feel more familiar with people before I’d even talked to them. On my first day my manager sent me profiles of the rest of the team. This was very helpful. It was also good I got this later than the first two, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed with information before I started. I strongly encourage other teams to make one-page profiles as this can help autistic people feel more at ease speaking to the people they work with.
How has this internship helped me?
This internship has given me the confidence to speak up and advocate for my own autistic needs. It has made me think about my future career and made me think about a career in the Civil Service. This was previously something I was unsure I was capable of but now feels like a real possibility.
About the author
Jasmine loves to swim in open water and is a competitive swimmer. She has competed at international level.
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