Leah Legge works for the Home Office in Liverpool and is an Autism Champion. She told us about her experience of the Understanding Autism distance learning course, arranged through PCS and the FBU.
I volunteered for the role of Autism Champion at work as it was something I was interested in and think it is important to raise awareness. There are about 10 of us at the Home Office in Liverpool, over the three sites. Our role is to provide help and advice to colleagues, including management.
In the workplace there is a range of things that we might need to consider for those who are autistic or on the autistic spectrum, from performance-related issues to housekeeping issues such as noisy hand-dryers in the toilets, for example. Also looking at better communication styles and methods.
My employer arranged for an external provider to come in and do a day’s autism awareness training, but I wanted to have a better understanding as autism can affect everyone differently, and show itself in different ways.
I signed up to do the free FBU distance learning course and it was such a straightforward process. Someone came out to see me and gave me all the course materials and I signed a learning agreement. I work at my own pace to agreed deadlines. I’m now about halfway through the course and am finding it very informative and interesting. There are exercises to do along the way and then coursework to send off. The workbooks have all the information I need and also include the details of relevant websites that I can go to for extra help. My tutor gives me constructive feedback and also points me in the direction of further sources of information.
Initially when I asked for time off work to do the course, my request was rejected, but as I argued that it would help me in my Autism Champion role, I was then granted an hour a week to do it.
The course has given me improved confidence to be able to help people in my workplace and also outside of work. It has given me an extra depth of knowledge and I will be recommending that my Autism Champion colleagues at work enrol on it, too.