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I am a Successful Autistic Cold Caller with excellent communication skills - Stop Pigeon Holing Us!

I am so sick and tired of seeing Autistic people falling prey to old stereotypes based on old films like Rainman!

Although some autistic people are very good at Maths, Coding and Computer Programming, most are not. This includes me. I am sure I would be good at coding with the attention to detail I have but it does not interest me. Just give me the finished product. It is not something I would have patience for.

It disappoints me when I see jobs advertised specifically for autistic people. I feel personally it is a double edged sword. Great companies want to be inclusive but how much do these companies actually know about autistic people and autism?

The other problem is you are effectively disclosing you have a disability before the interview has even taken place. Employers should just be inclusive, period. These companies are then praised for being inclusive by basically exploiting an autistic person's talent. It should not matter that it is not accepted. Acceptance is employing somebody based on how well you think they will be able to do the job by having a fair interview process and not holding someone for their inability to make eye contact, dress sense or tone.

The only jobs I have seen advertised specifically for autistic people are with software or IT companies.

I am very solution focussed with a photographic memory, above average intelligence and great attention to detail. I would be perfect for an admin job. However, I hate admin. It bores me to tears and therefore takes a lot of effort for me to undertake the task. That is an ADHD trait in me. I am not diagnosed with ADHD however, there is a comorbidity of ADHD linked with Autism. I need a routine to function but rigid routine is boring to me. My brain basically is at war with itself but I really do not function when I do not have a routine. By not functioning I mean it is like my brain is just in a state of grey. It will not focus or be engaged with anything I need to do. Any changes to routine that are not expected or logical for me I have a meltdown which, where the filter from my brain to mouth disappears and I will appear unreasonable and stuck on the 'why'.

I am, however, adaptable despite my need for routine. As long as I have the right tools I can cope with change so for example my target at work can change that day. However, because I know how to adapt my day to a target change, the sudden change does not unsettle me too much and my manager is always on hand to help with time management if I need it.

I know many autistic advocates that also have an excellent way of putting points across and communicating well. Some are lawyers, others are teachers, I know other call centre workers, parents, tattoo artists, marketing, design and also computer programmers.

Once you meet one person autistic person, you have met one autistic person. None of us are the same.

I am a successful autistic cold caller within the construction industry. I love my job. It challenges me every day. I am held to the same standards as everyone else in my office. I am on the same target as them and expected to hit it, and I do. Sometimes I will work slightly longer but that is normally to do admin type tasks when the office is quieter and it does not bother me to do this as I work close to home and it only takes me 10 mins to cycle home.

My manager has said how impressed he is with my logical thinking, excellent communication skills and my ability to engage people on the phone. None of the latter are typical autistic stereotypes thus the irony that I am told I have excellent communication skills as a cold caller whilst having a disability that in itself can cause significant social, communication and behavioural challenges is not lost on me. The key to my success is I am genuinely interested in construction. I am such a geek I love seeing plans come to life.

My manager identified me as a visual learner early on and adapted his communication and explanation of things so I was able to understand better. This helped me tremendously and I can look at things now and get a feel for if information already on the system is correct or if it is not quite right just by a google search and speaking to the a couple of contacts because I am able to visualise where a project should be up to and who should be working on the project based on time scales.

I have a geography degree so I can link it to construction well. Especially materials, supply and demand. I have a really good understanding of the world and how humans and nature interact so this job has been very fulfilling for me in that sense. It is the last office job I will ever do. I will not work for another company after this one. I am resolute in that. So this is effectively my last employer. So many employers are too closed minded so why leave a job where I am respected and treated well with whom I have a good relationship and passion?

For me it is never about money but how I feel working somewhere. KPIS and targets are comforting to me because it means I know exactly what is expected of me. I know if I hit them I am doing a good job and ultimately that is all I care about. It is just super refreshing to be doing a good job for someone and have positive reinforcement about my traits rather than being called quirky, spoken for and poked fun at. Here I am listened to and the small changes made make a massive difference for me. If all employers were like that then more autistic people would be employed rather than the 1 in 6 that currently are.

I have won several incentives. I let my work and knowledge do the talking. I do not care to be a 'favourite' I just care to do a good job and be respected for it.

The office is open plan and it is non remote working 5 days per week. However, through advocating for myself and having an employer that actually listens I have an excellent relationship and as such am able to achieve and often exceed targets set for me.

Don't get me wrong. I am not neurotypical and therefore I do have reasonable adjustments. I have never seen Occupational Health however, as my employer worked with me to put these in place and they are a continual work in progress. My manager now understands that just because I can do something one day doesn't mean I can do it the next. I will often ask to be in the office however, there is no pressure for me to be full time and there are some rare occasions where the office is too tasking. On those occasions I am allowed to ask to work from home the next day just to give me that break. It is oh so refreshing to be treated like an adult with respect and it is helping me grow in confidence.

I have more flexibility around my breaks. Sometimes I take them after everyone else so I can recharge particularly if I have had a stressful morning or it has not gone how I want. Me going to a break room with everyone else means I have to spend a lot of energy masking. Me taking downtime without anyone else means I can take a breath.

I can leave the building whenever I want as long as I tell someone where I am going. I have not had to do this yet but the option is there.

If I need to vent a frustration I can grab 5 mins with a manager or my mentor off the office floor and am allowed to speak freely and be my authentic self without recrimination. My manager is well versed in my honesty and appreciates it. We have a good open and honest relationship with professional boundaries and respect. I have this with all managers and colleagues I speak with regularly.

I can advocate and do this work on linked in with no recrimination. Other employers in the past have not been too keen shall we say or past colleagues have poked fun at it. However, my new employer is fully supportive of it.

I do not have a hot desk. I have a desk in a quieter area of the office but am still very much a part of the team. I am also allowed to use my own noise cancelling headphones. Whatever works for me and is within reason I am allowed to do so long as I discuss it and hit my target.

Due to this relationship I am able to be more open about my struggles. Even if it is that I have not had a good night's sleep I can tell my manager so he knows I may struggle more with sensory overload and it is forgiven.

To most it may seem odd to tell a manager things like something the night before didn't go to plan or you are working on 4 hours sleep. However, when you are autistic small things like that can have a massive impact on how you can manage your day. It is nice to be seen and heard and given space and approached in the right way.

I have been asked how I want to progress my career. I don't tend to go for promotion as in the past I have been told I am not management material etc I am too controversial and honest. However, my manager has suggested maybe giving presentations on what we do etc. It is something I would be comfortable doing and is something I have pondered and been given much thought.

I definitely would not be able to do this job without the support. None of which costs money either. It is all things that allow me to do my job with minimal fuss. I now advocate for myself with new starters again with the support of management. This is something that is important to me as it is important colleagues know I am autistic so they know why I may take breaks at different times, or be quiet etc. It is about making people accept I am autistic but it does not hinder my ability to do this job in many ways it enhances it.



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