Autism in the Workplace - Bailey's Story
Autism in the Workplace - Bailey's Story
On Tuesday, October 16th the Presidents Group and our partners hosted an ‘Autism in the Workplace’ conference at the Goodlife Fitness Family Autism Hub in Richmond. The conference ran from 8:30am – 3pm. There were sessions led by both professionals who have experience supporting individuals with ASD and organizations that have successfully implemented strategies to make their workforce more neurodiverse.
This is Bailey’s Employment Story.
(Interviewer) Bailey Ratcliffe is a software quality analyst for Focus Professional Services. His current consulting contract through Focus is with Vancity where he has been working for the past three years. Previously, he had worked for his family doing jobs like digitizing a contact book and other IT tasks, but nothing full-time or long-term. Just gonna ask you a few questions.
(Interviewer) Now Bailey, how did you find your current job?
(Bailey) Well, I went to a job fair that was specifically for individuals on the spectrum. Most of the jobs were a little bit, you know, they were part-time stuff, medial tasks, so it wasn’t really geared towards people that were looking for more long-term careers. But there was a man from Vancity that was there and there were a lot of people going for this job so it was a guy in a backroom doing IT stuff and I’m like oh that’s perfect for me. I talked to the guy, he said, “A lot of people want this job.” But he handed me the card of Carol Simpson. I don’t see her, there she is. Handed me the card of Carol Simpson and said you know, this lady has a startup and this might be something that you’re interested in. So they said it was an IT start up. I didn’t hear anything else about it. I was just told IT start up and I was like oh, great.
So I went home and I looked on the website, put in an application, got a call back, went through the process, and Carol was very accommodating through the process. So this wasn’t a normal interview and I didn’t botch it, so that’s great.
(Interviewer) Now how did you prepare for your job?
(Bailey) Well, Focus provided me with training so I’m a software tester, as we just said, so it was software testing training, agile training, so for anyone that doesn’t know what that means, it’s just software training or software testing methodology and software development methodology. And then the part that’s probably more relevant to ASD’s is workplace etiquette. So that was a big part of it because, you know, we don’t really know how to behave in a workplace all the time so it’s great that she provided that training.
(Interviewer) Great, and what is your favorite part about your job?
(Bailey) Well, I just like the feeling of having a full-time job and having a routine to stick to, as well as having the independence and the financial independence is really good.
(Interviewer) Great, now how did you prepare for your very first day on the job?
(Bailey) I think this is something a lot of people can relate to. My first day at the job, I live a city over, so I just took the transit route, that’s it.
(Interviewer) Great, and what is the most important part in your workplace to help you maintain your job?
(Bailey) The most important part is something Dr. Worling covered just now. He said that very clear and direct feedback, I find that that’s the most effective method because I often don’t know if what I’m doing is wrong, so if I’m told, I can very easily, I can take the time to correct that behavior. Um, yeah.
(Interviewer) Great, and what do you do outside of work that is important to you to help you maintain your job?
(Bailey) Well, it’s mostly just being able to go home and de-stress. So I like to play video games on my computer a lot.
(Interviewer) Fantastic, fantastic. And what has been set up for you at work that are key components in you being successful at your job?
(Bailey) The most important part of being able to be successful and maintain that level of success is being able to have an open channel for discourse with the employer. So if I have any gripes or complaints, that I can bring them up to Carol, with the knowledge that she’s not going to, you know, judge me on it. She’s going to take my criticism into account and see if she can do anything about that.
(Interviewer) Great, great. What is a source of stress for you at work and what is the best way your employer can support you?
(Bailey) A really big part of it is sensory, obviously. So one of the most important things that I’ve found about that is noise pollution. So people then have impromptu meetings at their desks and they can get pretty loud sometimes. So a lot of the time people aren’t really aware of that. It’s also traffic, so people going passed me. That tends to be bothersome. I think that’s a pretty common complaint among people on the ASD spectrum. A big compromise for me, I’ve found, is that because my job involves me just sitting at a computer doing a lot of testing, I can just wear headphones most of the time to block everything out.
(Interviewer) Great, sounds good. Now what are your current goals?
(Bailey) Well, in January, so this January, it will be entering my fourth year of employment with Focus so that’ll be going from entry-level to a more intermediate software tester, so that’s pretty exciting.
(Interviewer) That’s great, that’s very exciting.
(Bailey) For looking long-term though, definitely, I like my career field so I want to be senior tester.
(Interviewer) Perfect, that sounds wonderful. What does having this job mean to you? What difference has it made in your life?
(Bailey) Well, as I touched on earlier, it allows me to have a level of independence where I don’t really need to rely on anyone. Of course, you know, the support is always there as a person designated with persons with disabilities, so it’s always there if I need it, but the fact that I don’t have to rely on it is very important to me. And I was able to, obviously after getting the job, I was able to move out of my mother’s home and I was able to start my own life so that was very good.
(Interviewer) That’s great. What do you think more employers need to know about hiring neuro-diverse talents?
(Bailey) We just tend to think of ourselves as ordinary people with weird quirks and it’s really helpful to just think of that because, you know, maybe, I think everyone has a friend that does some weird, annoying thing where you’re like why do they do that? And if you just think of us like that, it’s a lot easier to relate.
(Interviewer) Thank you Bailey. That’s all of our questions right now but we can have a Q&A afterwards.