I established Think Musique as a business consultancy in 2018 and have supported many clients and colleagues with essential skills and practices for their businesses ever since; with all of my clients originating from a wide variety of backgrounds, both neurotypical and neurodiverse. This changed in 2020, just before the pandemic closed everything down, and as a result of my membership of Greater Manchester Autism Consortium, when I was asked to take part in a series of videos about positive stories of employment for people who are autistic in and around Greater Manchester. You can see my interview here, which incidentally was recorded remotely on my own phone (!) with the interview being carried out by Seamus Mannion, the Founder of SENDCode CIC.
As a result of the profound effect these conversations had, Seamus and I decided to do two things:
- apply for Access to Work support from the Department for Work and Pensions in order to help me manage the areas of business ownership I find most difficult.
- to focus part of my time on supporting other people with autism who are experiencing difficulties in their roles as employees or employers.
Since being diagnosed with autism in 2018 I have become able to understand some of the challenges I faced throughout my life, which at the time did not make sense. The rate of diagnoses for autism in women is low and so many women go through life without understanding why certain things can be so challenging for them, whilst other women seem better able to deal with them. Relationships during teenage years can be complex for neurotypical people to understand and for autistic girls this can be a huge barrier to positive mental health. The BBC animation below (opens in new window) helps to explain how many autistic women feel when growing up.
Ironically, despite the challenges of the pandemic for many people, the national lockdowns have had a positive impact on my daily routine, and reduced my anxieties related to work arrangements and travel plans, with me now in the comfort zone of my own home. The Access to Work coaching is now provided by Seamus, who has supported me in several areas, such as adjusting work practises and business finances, both of which increased my anxiety and reduced my confidence in communicating with clients. This has allowed me to focus more on the things I am best at in running the business – providing coaching and mentoring support.
The pandemic has directly and indirectly resulted in a much better working environment for me, with remote work now a norm rather than an exception, which has in turn allowed me to feel safe in my workspace, whilst still delivering the same service to my clients. Working from home has allowed me to expand my client base, as I no longer need to factor in travel time, and that time gained, combined with the Access to Work sessions with Seamus have helped me to focus on what is important to me in growing my business. As a result of this increased focus I have now diversified into coaching other neurodiverse people through the Access to Work scheme and as a mentor for Autism Forward.
If you are interested in finding out more about any of the things mentioned in the post please get in touch.