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The perception of autism is outdated; a large percentage of people with autism can study, work and live independently

Harry Goldfinch, Support Worker, East Kent Mencap
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Diagnosed with #autism at eight years old, Harry Goldfinch, from Ramsgate, has been surrounded by disabilities his whole life. Like him, his sister has autism and lives a normal life, despite assumptions that she may need care, due it’s debilitating qualities.

With an estimation of 700,000 people with autism and 5% of people in employment in the UK, Harry wants to challenge the negative stigma that surrounds it.

Joining East Kent Mencap, who supports adults and children with learning disabilities to become more independent, in 2020, as a Support Worker, Harry found an affiliation with the organisation and wanted to see if he could encourage a positive difference in people’s lives.

Now, at 24 years old and undertaking an Adult Care Worker Apprenticeship at East Kent Mencap, with Qube Learning, a national Recruitment and Training Solutions Provider, Harry is keen to expand his skill set, while understanding how to do his role more efficiently and to evolve into a better Support Worker.

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Prior to employment, at primary school level, Harry experienced sensory issues and found echoes, lights, and sound levels overwhelming. Faced with a negative prediction from one Teacher, who unfairly judged him and said he would not amount to anything, her unjust opinion made Harry determined to prove them wrong. This, and the lack of understanding around autism, resulted in him being taken out, halfway through year six.

Harry’s mum worked hard to get the support from their local MP, who then helped find him a place at a school that was dedicated to working closely with those with learning disabilities. It was a small school that was two Students to a Tutor with a total of 25 students, which allowed for a more concentrated style of learning. Now, with a degree in Commercial Music, after graduating from Canterbury Christchurch University, in September 2019, Harry is incredibly proud of this merit and hopes to set an example for people with autism that they can do it, too.

Harry says: ‘With or without autism, everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves and with backing and belief from others, this can make a huge difference. Also, living with dyslexia and dyspraxia, I have gone against the grain of a traditional student, and hope I am setting a positive example of what is possible. With a degree and now completing an Apprenticeship, it didn’t come easy. I taught myself to learn and I am very driven to shine a light on what I, an autistic person, can do. I have studied, I am increasing my skills and earning a salary and coping very well!  I really hope the perception changes and that people avoid assumptions that individuals with autism can do everything that others can do’.

Once afraid of ‘owning his autism’, Harry didn’t declare his disability when he worked for two butchers and throughout his first year at university, but eventually, when he addressed his needs, he found he was given more time to complete work tasks and assessments. Now comfortable with autism and being outspoken about it, Harry is enjoying his role at East Kent Mencap, and the great support from his two coordinators and his Qube Learning Tutor has given him more confidence in areas he never imagined possible. He looks to continue his good work at the organisation and wants to install belief in those who share a similar disability and is passionate about driving change on some of society’s outlook on autism and their stereotypes.


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