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Disability and Quality of Life survey

Living with autism - Grant's story

Time 355 days ago Comments 0 comments

As part of our public survey, open to everyone in the UK with lived experience of disability, we share personal stories from members of the PurpleSpace network - an organisation of disability inclusion experts.

Remember, anyone in the UK can complete the survey, which is open until Wednesday 2 October 2019, whether they are employees, clients, customers or members of the public.

This week we share the story of Grant, a commercial analyst at an IT company. He has autism.

“I was diagnosed with autism three years ago, so I spent most of my life completely unaware that I had it! When I look back I realise how obvious it was. I only found out because my son got a diagnosis and after learning about it, I knew I had the same thing.

“The autism can affect me at work – I’m prone to anxiety, perhaps more than other people would be. So if I have to present to a large group of people on my own without any back up, for example, I can find that extremely stressful and spend the days leading up to it worrying. 

“Sometimes it takes me a little longer to read emails and understand and process information. For example, I might sit in a meeting and look like I’m taking it all in but it’s not until afterwards or a day after that I’ve actually processed what’s happening, and I can’t be as quick in terms of putting an argument together and articulating things. So certain things that others may take for granted can be quite difficult for me.

“The autism means that there are some environments that I can’t always handle. For example, the thought of going somewhere like Camden where it’s bustling with people when I’m stressed is difficult. I can’t deal with that sort of environment and feel the need to get myself away from the situation. Also I find noisy environments tricky, especially if there are lots of people talking and I’m trying to have a conversation. It feels a bit like being deaf. Flexible working helps me a lot – I work from home most of the time.   

“I made use of a government scheme from the Department for Work and Pensions to get some adjustments made at work. It’s called Access to Work and they have funded my workplace coaching as well as supplying noise cancelling headphones to help me focus.

“I don’t keep it a secret that I’m autistic but equally I don’t go around publicising it, so no one will probably realise. I feel apprehensive to say it as you don’t know whether someone will consciously or unconsciously discriminate against you.”

As Sodexo is a disability confident leader, we are committed to inclusivity. Engaging employees and customers with disabilities is central to this work. 

Take part in our survey today, which is open until Wednesday 2 October. The results will help us to make recommendations about the needs of people with disabilities, and this in turn will positively impact thousands of lives.

The survey is open to everyone in the UK, so feel free to share the link with friends and family! If you have any questions relating to the survey, please email:


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