Recently we were lucky enough to receive training from Ben Taylor a Practice Development Nurse for Learning Disabilities and Autism, who shared some insights into Autism and learning disabilities, how lives are affected and how we can support individuals within the bmFamily 💜💚 who may identify within this spectrum.

What is Autism

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.

Autism Facts

  • 70% of adults with autism have/do experience mental heath difficulties
  • Only 32% of autistic adults are in some kind of paid employment (compared to 80% of non-disabled people and 47% of disabled people)
  • A mere 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment
  • 40% of autistic adults working part-time want to work more hours
  • 77% of unemployed autistic adults want employment

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Social Communication

Autistic people often have difficulty ‘reading’ other people – recognising or understanding others’ feelings and intentions – and expressing their own emotions. This can make it very hard to navigate the social world:

  • Difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal language
  • Take things very literally
  • Cannot read facial expressions or tone of voice
  • Does not understand jokes or sarcasm
  • Unable to take turns in a conversation
  • Only wants to talk about their own interests

Imagination Difficulties

  • Difficulty in understanding people’s feelings
  • Unable to think ahead and predict what might happen
  • Does not understand the concept of danger
  • Finds it difficult to engage in imaginative play or role playing
  • Have a dislike for new or unfamiliar situations
  • Does not like change to routine

What is a Learning Disability

A learning disability is defined by the Department of Health as a “significant reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills (impaired intelligence), with a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social functioning), which started before adulthood”.

Learning Disability Facts

  • 40% of adults with a learning disability have mental health problems – more than double the rate of mental health problems in the general population.
  • 85% of disabled adults between 18-34 feel lonely
  • 64% of UK sports clubs lack appropriate equipment for people with a disability.
  • 36% of over 16s play sport at least once a week but for over 16s with a disability or long term illness this is more than half at just 17%
  • 22% of young people have a low income in families where someone has a disability .
  • Only 6% of adults with learning disability, known to their local authority in England, are in paid work
  • 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK

Supporting Individuals with Learning Disabilities

There are lots of ways you can support individuals with learning disabilities within the workplace, here are just a few ideas:

  • Allow team members to give verbal, rather than written, responses
  • Flexible working hours
  • Colour-code materials, folders, labels etc.
  • Promote the use of calendars that provide digital reminders of meetings, deadlines etc.
  • Provide checklists for tasks.
  • Offer work trials as an alternative to a formal interview
  • Divide large jobs into smaller tasks with specific goals.
  • Provide a job mentor to provide support
  • Allow additional training time on new tasks or processes.

We  support all our #bmFamily💜💚 and embrace their diverse backgrounds to ensure an inclusive environment for all and most importantly, a sense of belonging.


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