Working Well With Autism is a not-for-profit co-operative enterprise dedicated to improving the working and student lives of adults with autism in higher education and the workplace through support, training and consultancy. Its founders, husband-and-wife team Janet Wise and Rob de Jong, have been active within the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) and social enterprise world for many years, campaigning tirelessly for the right of disabled people and their carers to be heard, recognised and fully included in society. They are also parents of a teenage son on the autism spectrum, and feel they have been on the autism journey of discovery forever.
Working Well With Autism grew out of Rob’s one-year Lloyds Bank business start-up programme with the Dartington School for Social Entrepreneurs in 2013-14. Here he was able to develop the distinctive Working Well With Autism philosophy from initial concept to a full business model.
Janet and Rob recognised that all efforts to place adults with autism in college or in work tend to focus on preparing them for the workplace rather than preparing the workplace to receive them. Employability is seen as an effort to fit the person with autism to the world of work rather than fit the world of work around them.
Working Well With Autism recognises that the effort to develop individuals’ life skills, build their self-esteem and help them to manage their anxieties all have a worthwhile role to play and offer undoubted benefit. However, Working Well With Autism also focuses on the other, complementary side of the good work equation: we want to encourage staff to become the autism enablers of tomorrow, to support their fellow workers with autism as part of their everyday working lives. To this end, we work with individuals and organisations by offering them specialist workplace support, training and consultancy.
We help people to bridge the gap in understanding of what it feels like to be on the autism spectrum, to recognise the uniqueness of each person’s experience of the world and contribution to it, to simply be there for our colleagues without judgment or preconception about their way of relating to the world of work around them. In short, we train people to provide person-centred support and so to build an enabling world for their colleagues and friends with autism.