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In this weeks blog we hear again from our Specialist Autism Trainer Debbie Austin, who explores the barriers that faced her personally when stepping into employment.

Work has not always been an easy time for me.

The difficulties often started when the role changed or when people started leaving, as many did to further their career. My way of coping with this was to follow them soon after.

After racking up many jobs in a short period of time, I felt frustrated and had my first meltdown in my early twenties. I remember being very distressed at being in a job I hated and at that time struggling with my social relationships at work. Being accused of saying something inappropriate and feeling victimised.

This was the start of the decline. When your anxiety is so high it is hard to think straight, so you go into fight or flight mode. I chose flight. It seemed the only option.

It wasn’t long after I decided I needed to change my career and went back into further education. It was the best thing I ever did. My motivator was that I knew I was capable of so much more as my qualifications didn’t match my ability.

And this has been pretty much the story of my life, why can I not find a job that suits me, that gives me a sense of fulfilment? I came across the phrase under employed and over qualified, which really resonated with me. This was how I felt. I remember someone saying I can see you with all these qualifications and no job. I have never forgotten that remark which was not meant as a compliment I can assure you.

He was right though. Why did I feel so frustrated in a role that was unfulfilling and beneath my capabilities? Maybe it was because I didn’t know how to push myself forward for the jobs that would ultimately be more rewarding and validating.

About six year ago I met with a DWP disability employment advisor. I was at a particular low point in terms of confidence and self esteem.
Her words came as a much needed reality check “why are you not using your qualifications?”

Indeed, WHY aren’t I?

All I needed was the space to reflect and look at the evidence in front of me, I was far from lacking in experience and qualifications and it was clear to others where my passions lay; Teaching and educating others.

It’s easy for others to see your potential, but not so easy to see it in yourself. Sometimes all we need is encouragement, a push from others, maybe a mentor, to enable us to see our potential and remove the barriers.

Fast forward three years later, I am using my teaching and training qualifications, I am meeting new people and I am in control of my own destiny. Who knows where this new found confidence will take me?

It seems the only person who stands in the way of your achieving something is you*

How very true.

*(taken from Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism by Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy)