The final episode of BBC 2’s Employable Me series aired last night and followed 27 year old Ben who has Asperger’s Syndrome and 23 year old Ellie who has Tourette’s Syndrome.
At the beginning of the programme, Ben and Ellie both viewed their disability as a disadvantage in their quest to find employment. Ellie was still coming to terms with being diagnosed with Tourette’s. Having been symptom-free until the age of 21, she described how she was “only just getting to grips with what it is, and what it is for me”.
During the programme, Ben and Ellie carried out work experience. Determined to succeed, they pushed themselves out of their comfort zones and both demonstrated the wealth of skills they possess. They also met with leading scientists to help them understand more about their condition within the world of work.
Assessments carried out by neuropsychologist Dr Claire Eddy revealed that Ellie’s Tourette’s resulted in her being extremely intuitive and empathetic towards others, skills which could be of great value to employers. Ellie was told that her high emotional intelligence meant that she would be particularly suited to professions with a strong caring role. Dr Eddy also highlighted the fact that Ellie’s experience of ticks has given her an insight into what it is like to be in a difficult position. This not only helps her relate to others but will have prompted her to develop a range of skills to cope with the challenges she faces on a daily basis.
Ben also underwent a series of assessments with leading autism expert Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. Whilst the tests showed Ben had difficulty in identifying human emotions, he excelled at visual analysis tasks that indicated he had exceptionally strong analytical skills that would be highly valuable in the legal profession. Reflecting on Ben’s exceptional talent, Professor Baron-Cohen affirmed that employers benefit when they recognise the advantages individuals with autism can bring to their organisation.
A New Perspective
By the end of the programme, both Ellie and Ben had developed a different perspective on their conditions that saw them focus on their unique strengths, rather than their difficulties. This led to them becoming noticeably more confident in their interactions with prospective employers and they made great progress as a result.
Employable Me has done a great job of drawing attention to the unique skills and strengths individuals with neuro-diverse conditions can bring to the workplace and has highlighted the need for employers to focus on individuals’ abilities rather than their disabilities.