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ByJoanne

Autism from an Autistic parent’s perspective

This is a story based on Laurie’s experience as an Autistic Parent of an Autistic child and how tackles the stereotypes and misconceptions of what it is like to be Autistic

Join Laurie as they give a no-hold bared view of how their are so many misconceptions of Autistic People, the language, terminology and tropes that propagate many myths. Laurie is themselves an autistic person and is also the parent of autistic children. They share some insights of the challenges they face parenting and in the world of other parents and society. Laurie is a trainer and speaker on the topic of autistic and neurodiversity inclusion to make the workplace accessible.

 
Published Published: 15.10.2020 Recorded Recorded: 18.08.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:06:53 Downloads Downloads: 53
 

Joanne sat down to talk to Laurie Morgen to discuss ‘Autism from an Autistic Parent’s Perspective.’

Laurie recently published a book called ‘Travelling by Train, The Journey of an Autistic Parent’. The consistent theme that she has heard from parents through her research and the autism training she delivers is that once their child receives an autism diagnosis they are also given a long list of things they are never going to achieve; they will never live independently, form successful relationships, learn to drive etc, all the things we expect human beings to be able to do. This sets the bar of expectation exceptionally low; if we do not expect our children to be able to achieve these things, then why do we bother? It is a mistake that professionals make, signing these children off before their life has begun. If professionals have negative connotations about autistic people, then their opinion of an autistic parent with an autistic child/children is that they are not capable of raising their children, they are seen as being somehow deficient as a parent. We should be challenging autism myths and having a more open dialogue about autistic people as parents. Without this they are at risk of having their children removed from them, or having unnecessary involvement from social services etc.

It has only been in relatively recent years that people have been receiving autism diagnosis, and while Laurie acknowledges that progress is being made, she wants more. She was only diagnosed herself at aged 44 when she was researching for her son and recognised the symptoms in herself. Being dyslexic now does not have the same stigmas attached to it as it did 40-50 years ago, so Laurie’s hope is that the same happens with autism and it is seen in a more positive light. The original studies of autism were not conducted by trained psychologists, which a lot of our subsequent understanding has been based on. They only studied boys and it remains even today much harder to diagnose girls/women, as most of the research is on typically presenting males. Laurie further questions this research by suggesting that perhaps the children in these studies were not showing empathy because they did not understand what they were being asked to do, or were frightened, which masked their emotions? These studies were conducted in laboratories in artificial circumstances, so were the children presenting in ways that were not usual for them. If they were studied in their natural environments would we see a completely different picture?

Laurie feels that she is representing the autism community, even if she says she is an individual there will be others that experience the same difficulties she does. She wants to honour the community by being a mouthpiece for them and representing them in a positive light – by being presentable, articulate she automatically busts a myth. Autism is not a learning difficulty, a higher proportion of autistic people don’t have learning difficulties, over those that do. Another myth is that Asperger’s and Autism are separate, when in fact the terms are used interchangeably. Asperger’s is a form of autism and comes under the autism spectrum. It is a functioning label, and you can be disadvantaged by these as it adds confusion. A person must fit all negative criteria to get their diagnosis, but then to get support and help they look at all the things you can do.

Laurie finds that she has difficulty relating to women, she is generalising with this statement but notes that they often provide more information than they necessarily need to when explaining themselves. Laurie refers to this as Country lane conversation, whereas autistic people tend to be motorway thinkers and motorway talkers, very direct. She feels we could all benefit from an autistic person’s efficiency, by learning to be more direct and ‘cutting to the chase.’ Laurie believes that within the recruitment process social skills should not matter, and that a person should be judged solely on their ability to perform the duties related to that role. We should stop worrying whether they will fit in with the company’s culture.


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Brought to you by your host
Joanne Lockwood Joanne Lockwood
SEE Change Happen

A huge thank you to our wonderful guest
Laurie Morgen Laurie Morgen
Different by default
ByJoanne

Being inclusive means leaving no one behind

Jacqui works with in the space that is creating accessible systems of the future. Working with governments and the UN she is at the forefront in ensuring the future is inclusive for all.

As an Internet of Things (IoT) innovator she not only creates the future but she also shapes it. Jacqui talks about the challenges that she is advising the UN and governments from around the world on creating technology and online systems that are inclusive for all, and when she says for all, she means all people from every country. Jacqui has spoken at Davos and met with the father of the modern internet, Tim Berners-Lee. We explore how the world has changed over the last 20 to 30 years due to the birth and growth of the internet, but we must also recognise that we must remain vigilant of Bad Actors and the Dark Web. How this technology develops as the norm for Gen-Alpha and Gen-Beta will shape the world for the future. How can we now ensure that the Boomers and Gen-Xers are not left behind? Listen in to this fascinating conversation with someone right at the heart of this evolution.

 
Published Published: 08.10.2020 Recorded Recorded: 14.08.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:12:58 Downloads Downloads: 41
 

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Brought to you by your host
Joanne Lockwood Joanne Lockwood
SEE Change Happen

A huge thank you to our wonderful guest
Dr Jacqui Taylor Dr Jacqui Taylor
Flying Binary

ByJoanne

Why isn’t our public transport network accessible for all?

Andy is a Paralympian who specialises in creating accessible spaces. He joins us to talk about his work with the public transport network and the need for true accessibility for all

Disabled people face a real challenge when using public transport. If we focus on the social model of disability then it is the environment that leads a person to be restricted or denied service due to the disability. Andy talks about the work he does with transport companies, especially one particular rail franchise's approach to Inclusive design for services, that takes into account the necessary adjustments to ensure people of any disability can find that they are being considered. He also talks about his experience as a Paralympian and how his life changed for ever during a sporting event in his youth. There is plenty here for organisations to take away in terms of steering their own thinking around accessibility for all.

 
Published Published: 01.10.2020 Recorded Recorded: 10.08.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:02:26 Downloads Downloads: 231
 

Joanne sat down to talk to Andy Barrow, a Paralympian to discuss ‘Why isn’t our public transport network accessible for all?’

Andy has been a wheelchair user for over 20 years since he broke his neck in a freak sporting accident, so he understands the landscape and accepts that there are certain aspects of public transport that are going to be very difficult to make accessible, the tube for example. In instances like this we must look at accessibility through assistance. The two major issues Andy has experienced are that processes often do not allow the staff trying to assist the passengers the best chance to give them the assistance they need and second is the culture – the organisations/staff not understanding the importance of the assistance, which is to allow people to navigate the world independently.

Negative travel experiences can really impact people, affecting their confidence and potential future travel plans. Andy feels, due to the confidence he gained through working in sports and his vast travelling that he needs to be a mouthpiece for others, who perhaps don’t have this. Being in the minority you often feel nervous about the number of unknowns before you travel – what is the accessibility like at the station you are travelling to, will there be someone there who is able to help?  Andy now works at SouthEastern to try and ensure that people can all turn up and travel as and how they want to. He accepts that mistakes are going to happen, but it is about how they are dealt with. The frustration from these mistakes is time, when it is only one mistake that may be fine, but when it builds up it is time costs taken out of your day, every single day/week/month/year. Having a severe disability has been equated to having a full time, 30 hour a week job in terms of time cost, just to live. Organisations should be judged by their plan B, when things go wrong how do they deal with it. Often, they try too hard to give a one size fits all, based on their perception of you. But we should be looking at equality vs equity -what is your ideal customer experience? Two people with the same disability may still have a drastically different idea of what this would look like, and this needs to be, within the realms of safety respected.

When Andy used to travel as an athlete on aeroplanes there were incidents where wheelchairs did not arrive and this can be disempowering, disappointing and embarrassing, especially when the assistance you are being offered, often being pushed through the airport, is not what

 you want. Wheelchairs are bespoke to the users; you cannot just be changed out of them. You want to be empowered to be independent as individuals. Andy is in a position of power as he knows if he was to remain in his seat and refuse to move, this has a knock-on cost implication to the airline. He does acknowledge that the blame can be unfairly placed on airlines, when the airport may contract out assistance services, so there are different dynamics at play.

Company culture needs to permeate through to all employees, and treatment of staff and engagement needs to be considered for this. Employees need to understand why accessibility for passengers is important and Andy believes if companies treat their staff well, the staff in turn will treat customers well. They need to avoid blame culture, accepting mistakes happen but look at training and ways to overcome this. If people feel empowered, they will be happy to take on responsibility and potentially break rules, but for the right reasons. No one sets out to make someone’s journey/day difficult, but it is the fear of being wrong, getting it wrong and then the consequences. Communication needs to be improved, training as often decisions need to be made in split seconds.

Andy understands that companies must cater to the bell curve, but everyone with a disability is different and hidden disabilities must also be considered. The question should be what do you need to put you at parity with everyone else travelling today? By giving the passenger the power of choice, ensuring they feel empowered they will have a positive experience.


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Brought to you by your host
Joanne Lockwood Joanne Lockwood
SEE Change Happen

A huge thank you to our wonderful guest
Andy Barrow Andy Barrow
Andy Barrow Consulting
ByJoanne

Stress! We don’t need to suffer and be victims to our emotions

I chatted with Ruth where we talked about the challenges of carrying around stress in our lives and how we can find our own strategies to overcome this often stigmatised condition many of us face.

Do you know the difference between stress and pressure? Ruth talks about the difference and how illnesses can aggravated by everyday stress that is allowed to build and escalate unchecked. By using techniques we can learn to reduce our stress levels, organisations can also promote good health by removing some of the causes of stress in the workplace. Each person can have their own triggers, often something in their personal life, a lived experience or even some childhood memory that doesn't get left behind. Negative experiences can build and compound and we just aren't able to offload without tackling our stress as an illness. With Health and Wellness being promoted in many organisation it is important that learning to overcome stress is part of their Good Mental Health programmes and to remove the sigma of talking about their stress.

 
Published Published: 24.09.2020 Recorded Recorded: 05.08.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:00:18 Downloads Downloads: 392
 

Joanne sat down to talk to Ruth Fogg of Stressworx to discuss ‘Stress! We don’t need to suffer and be victims to our emotions.’

Ruth believes that we tend to not fully understand what causes us stress. Everyone will experience stress at some point in their lives, so it is something we can all identify with, but if we can understand the reasons why we are stressed, what triggers it and learn how to manage it; then it stops being able to control us. Ruth’s strap line is ‘positive solutions for peace of mind’, the idea being that if you have peace of mind, stress will not affect you as you will be able to cope with any curve balls life throws your way.

By delving into our childhoods, we can begin to understand how memories are stored in the subconscious mind. Our conscious mind only makes up about 5% compared to the subconscious part – meaning things become automatic, we only think about things when we are learning and then it becomes second nature. When we experience an upsetting event/incident this is stored as a memory and our subconscious mind can bring back these old feelings if triggered by something in the current day. Unless we know how to deal with this initial upsetting memory it stays there and will continue to grow until it becomes insurmountable.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcoming stress is that we often do not acknowledge it until it is too late. As Ruth states: prevention is better than cure. This is due to stigma and confusion between pressure and stress. We absorb stress like a sponge and carry it with us and if we do not address this, then it can make us ill. Statistics show that 80% of illnesses can be linked to stress. We need to try and deal with the route cause and Ruth is an advocate of self-help methods and coping strategies. It is important, and often empowering for people to be able to feel as though they are helping themselves. It is hard to differentiate between stress and anxiety, because if you are anxious then you are likely to also be stressed. Our value systems and resulting conflicting believes can be big causes of stress and this can be within the workplace or home life, affecting relationships. These can all trigger lack of self-esteem and confidence, but it may be that you are just within the wrong setting/culture where you do not feel you can be yourself. Beliefs that we have instilled upon us at a young age can have a negative impact on us throughout our lives.

Ruth points out that stress can affect people of any age. Within children it tends to manifest in behaviour, so they may not be sleeping, eating etc. Ruth finds younger children respond well to a worry animal that they can talk to and put under their pillow, who takes their worries away overnight. Teenagers especially seem to suffer stress, as they try to find their identity and place in the world.

What the mind suppresses, the body will express. People often forget about the mind body connection and we focus too much on physical, rather than mental health. Our behaviour can be greatly affected by stress, often causing irritability and a feeling that you need to push people away, something that exacerbates the issue. Although people’s awareness of mental health has been raised, the subsequent action and ways to receive help needs improvement. During the COVID 19 pandemic the CAMS waiting list has increased to between 6-7 months, so we have resulting suicides while people are waiting for help. Before lockdown organisations were losing on average 12 billion pounds to stress, which equates to £1,035 per person. These figures do not include money lost due to presentism, where people are not well enough to be at work but are too worried to not be there. Statistics show for every £1 invested in any form of stress management training there is a £3 return showing that happy people are far more productive.


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Brought to you by your host
Joanne Lockwood Joanne Lockwood
SEE Change Happen

A huge thank you to our wonderful guest
Ruth Fogg Ruth Fogg
Stressworx
ByJoanne

Why is it so hard for women to get into the boardroom

Gillian explores some of the challenges women are facing in the workplace on route to the boardroom, and the compromises that still seem to be prevalent to balance family life and career success.

Many women face challenges when trying to progress their career, often organisation don't put enough support in place to help women plan their careers. Gillian talks about some of the factors that can often hinder women, some of them structural and some that are down to their own life choices and desires. We talk on the topics of Debiased Recruitment practices and the whole topic of Meritocracy in hiring and progression that often discriminates against those with less typical characteristics. Gillian also talks about her lockdown project of writing and publishing a book that was her daily journal from the past 6 months, including some topic observations and ironies from this COVID-19 shared experience we've all endured.

 
Published Published: 17.09.2020 Recorded Recorded: 04.08.2020 Episode Length Duration: 1:00:52 Downloads Downloads: 161
 

Joanne sat down to talk to Gillian Jones-William of Emerge Development Consultancy about ‘Why is it so hard for women to get into the boardroom?’

Figures published by Deloitte showed that globally, women make up only 16.1% of boards; a 1.9% increase since 2017 highlighting that if we carry on the same trajectory it might be another 30 years till we see gender parity in the boardroom. Statistics show that many companies are aiming for 25-30% of their boards to be women, but surely this should be 50%?

Gillian believes a lot of prejudice and bias still exists for women in the workplace with concerns over whether they are able to fully submerge themselves into their roles, especially if they have a family. But Gillian believes for women it comes down to two things; the feeling of imposter syndrome and how well organisations set up a career path and prepare them for the progression from Senior Executive to Board member. There is still the perception that women are not ready to be on the board until they reach their 40’s, that it is only at this age that they will feel ready to stand up against their male counterparts and this is now coinciding with when many woman are taking time out to concentrate on starting a family. There is then the concern when they return as to whether they are ready to take on a senior level role. There are lots of views of when is the right time/right age – but these are all based on our biases.

The makeup of a board often sets the tone for the organisation. Both Joanne and Gillian agree it must be very daunting to be the first woman to join a board – you would need to be quite resilient and have the gravitas to get your voice heard. Gender bias will also play a part; with your stature, tone of voice etc. all affecting how you are viewed. People still want to see an ‘alpha’ on the board. Women almost need to work harder than their counterparts to stand out, with judgement still being made on gravitas rather than skill. There is also the beauty bias paradox – women already stand out by virtue of being  a women, but if they try to behave femininely they will be accused of trying to use their charm, but if they try to be more masculine they can be accused of being aggressive.  Men are only judged on their ability and never on their looks.

Another factor effecting women at a time when they are looking to advance in their careers is the menopause. Gillian believes that now the taboo has been lifted on this subject we need to be open and speak about it. The side effects associated with the menopause can impact women’s confidence and whether they would feel comfortable in the boardroom. It is often associated with a loss of identity and is tied into ageism – are you then considered someone who would be passed over for a younger candidate.

Since COVID19 there has been a rise in redundancies, so we now have a mix of generations competing for the same job and employees have a wider choice of candidates – ranging from students to those nearing retirement. In this environment, although the hope would be that the role would go to whoever was best placed, this is not always the case. Now that lockdown has eased many of the restrictions that historically may have hindered females being promoted have been removed, such as flexibility to work from home etc, so Gillian hopes that this will be a catalyst for change and a way to level the playing field. It does however bring other challenges as women now need to work on their virtual visibility and make themselves stand out – something that may be much harder when you are not physically in the room.

Women still face a lot of societal stigma over their working choices – being criticised for both working and not. As a result of this they tend to suffer increasing guilt over the split priorities of home/work life, and this will have been exacerbated during lockdown. Gillian believes the best thing to do is to re-group and decide what lessons they want to take from this and what it means for their career.

We are, now more than ever living in a very PC world and within the office environment women are no longer asked whether children feature in their future and how they can still develop their career around this. Women very rarely have their full career planned often holding back from trying to be promoted due to marriage/family plans. Both Gillian and Joanne feel that we should be encouraging people to bring their whole selves to work  – but if women are not able to talk about future family plans, or issues they face then this will never be the case.


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Brought to you by your host
Joanne Lockwood Joanne Lockwood
SEE Change Happen

A huge thank you to our wonderful guest
Gillian Jones-Williams Gillian Jones-Williams
Emerge Development Consultancy