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Autism in the workplace


I felt compelled to write this blog, to share some autism awareness and understanding training we had at Clarion.

I met Manar Matusiak and was very interested in the work she is doing to help and support those with autism. As a result, we arranged for her to come in and do a training session at Clarion Solicitors.

I was surprised to learn that 1 in 86 people in the population have autism. In the UK, current stats show that this is around 700,000 people.

The purpose of the training session was for us to understand why autism awareness was important, to help us understand what causes it and, more importantly in our day to day life, to help us recognise the characteristics and thereafter change our behaviours to how we deal with people with autism.

Day to day, my job involves being a matrimonial lawyer. I also head our Private Client Services team, which comprises the family team, disputed Wills and Trusts, and Wills, Probate and Trusts. As part of the Private Client Team, we often act for people who lack the capacity to manage their own property and affairs. We have around 150 clients who fall into this category and have around £15 million of their property; money and cash etc that we actively look after for them.

On the news recently there has been a large campaign in relation to dementia awareness and a few months ago we had dementia training at Clarion. However, I was not aware that autism affected so many people and we felt some training would benefit us.

The 2 hour training session was one of the best training sessions I have ever attended. It was one of those training sessions where you don’t even look at your watch during the session, and before you know it the 2 hours is up. Manar is an incredibly impressive speaker, who combined some videos, some slides, some humour etc together with practical examples for us to try, even just for a second, to understand what it is like living with autism. There is so much we can do, for our clients who have autism, to make the instructing of solicitors much easier. The rooms we go in; the language we use; the senses we use etc can all make a massive difference to their lives, and their instruction of solicitors. What may appear to be rude or abrupt behaviour, could in fact be just a trait of having autism.

I would wholeheartedly recommend that all people who employ a number of staff seriously consider getting some form of training. As I work in a practice where there are over 120 staff, and the stats show that 1 in 86 people suffer from autism, it may be that I work with 1 or 2 people who have autism, that I perhaps did not know about.

I am a partner in the Family Team and Head of Private Client Services and can be contacted on 0113 336 3323.

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