Kai is a dedicated army cadet and sixth form student at Portfield School, sharing his thoughts on his autism.
He has mixed views on autism, noting that it is good in some aspects, but not so much in others. He’s not always comfortable telling people he’s autistic, saying, ‘it just feels weird’. Discussing his own experiences, he admits to struggling with his speech and social life – one of his day-to-day challenges is speaking to people. This is mainly because he prefers to speak in other languages, with Russian being his preferred and most comfortable choice.
Despite these challenges, not a lot of people take notice to the fact he’s autistic, and he gets along quite well with other people.
When talking about the good aspects of autism, he mentions how it’s a lot more common than you would think. There are loads of autistic people out there, and it’s not as rare as it’s made out to be; you’re not alone – there are many others in a similar situation.
He explains how some autistic people have just started going out to the workforce in this generation. In spite of this, a popular myth is that autistic people can’t work jobs. Kai reflects on this, suggesting it’s because people believe autistic people can’t focus on things well and get distracted very easily.
Nevertheless, as an army cadet, Kai successfully shoulders roles and responsibilities which require a lot of focus, proving that the myth is wrong for both him and many others.
When it comes to society and their views on autism, he talks about the disappointment that can come along when seeking certain jobs. Finding a job that you really want to do and are willing to put time and effort into, only to be denied for being autistic, can be disheartening.
For instance, Kai has always had a passion for joining the army, however he acknowledges that a couple of jobs in the army impose similar restrictions, saying, ‘I’m like darn, why? Why have a system where people with autism have differing jobs to others?’
He goes on to say autistic people could potentially be a lot better workers, describing them as ‘a special untapped resource.’
Contemplating his dream job, he said, ‘If I’m not able to get into the British Army, I might be a police officer, an actor or an animator.’
A lot of autistic people do want work, across all sectors in a variety of different roles, but they’re not offered the support, opportunities and understanding they need to thrive. By making simple changes to the workplace, employers can benefit from their diversity of skills.