Maxwell Dean, who has autism, explains the challenges people with autism face when applying for jobs, going for interviews, and in the workplace. But alongside it, he also highlights the benefits of hiring someone with autism, and how a diverse workplace can be a better workplace.
My name is Maxwell and I turned 27 this September. I was only diagnosed with high-functioning autism in July last year.
Among my interests is a passion for films, politics and social issues. My film tastes can be quite diverse. One minute I can be revisiting my childhood with The Lion King, and the next, terrifying myself with my favourite zombie film, Day of The Dead (1985).
I am also extremely passionate about equality and empowering others, which I want to do by sharing my own experiences. I firmly believe that everyone should be able to achieve their potential. This includes those with autism or any disability.
The impact of autism
The biggest impact my autism has, day-to-day, is my anxiety and feeling of self-worth. This can strike at any time, either during the day or night. Sometimes I find myself awake at night, with thoughts racing through my head about what I have done in the past and how I could have done things differently.
I also often find it difficult not to compare myself to others on social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. I know that these sites only offer a snapshot of people’s lives. But, as I am sure many would agree, it can be hard to switch off sometimes.
Trying to get a job
My worrying includes concerns about when I will be able to find my next job. I finished my last job as Campaigns Assistant at the National Union of Students in July 2016, and haven’t been able to work since.
I’ve applied for many jobs and had a lot of interviews. But nothing has been successful. The initial applications aren’t an obstacle for me because of my writing experience. However, the challenge is coming across confidently during the actual interview, a problem that, I’m sure, affects a lot of people with autism.
According to the latest research from the National Autistic Society, only 17% of autistic adults are in full-time employment. This is compared to 47% of disabled people.