Andi contacted Auternative Coaching last year after searching online for some extra support. As an autistic adult they felt they were missing opportunities to progress in their career and felt stuck in rut and lacking in confidence.
I caught up with Andi earlier this month to find out how useful the coaching sessions with us had been, and what advice Andi would give to others in a similar situation.
What attracted you to our coaching service?
I contacted Auternative Coaching because I really felt I needed some help to think through my career options. I was aware that I was putting limitations on myself and that I needed to be more confident about my abilities and what I could achieve.
In particular, forward planning has always been difficult for me. I can find it tricky to see what steps to take and how to sequence them and this can lead me to missing opportunities and not putting myself forward for things.
I was also finding it difficult to talk to my employer about the things I find difficult. I didn’t want them to think that I was struggling with everything or that I wasn’t capable of doing my job well.
So I wanted to see if coaching would help me with all of that, especially around my career goals and aspirations.
How many coaching sessions did you have?
I had 8 sessions in total, and instead of having them weekly I had them fortnightly as I found this gave me more time to process things between sessions, which was really helpful.
What impact did the coaching sessions have?
Coaching really helped me to build up my confidence. My coach was really supportive and I felt very comfortable to talk openly about whatever I needed to.
The sessions helped me to explore different ideas and think more clearly about what I wanted and could achieve.
I felt more able to ask for what I needed at work so that I could work at my best.
And, in the past I held myself back by not applying for jobs or putting myself forward for projects because I assumed I wouldn't succeed. But now I have a completely different perspective. Instead of catastrophising and assuming that I haven’t got a chance, I’m better able to see that it’s worth having a go, and so I’m much more likely to apply for opportunities.
What would you say to others that are thinking about signing up for some coaching?
I would definitely recommend coaching to others. I found it really helpful to work with my coach to get more clarity about my long term goals without getting overwhelmed.
My coach helped me to structure things and we worked together to break things down into manageable chunks. Without my coach's help I struggled to break down big ideas and so everything felt confusing and inaccessible. But working together it was easier to think more clearly about the steps I needed to take.
It was also useful to meet fortnightly so I had time to try things out between sessions and then talk through what had worked, and what hadn’t worked, at the next session.
Do you think it was useful that your coach had an understanding of autism?
I think it was really helpful that my coach had an understanding of autism. Although she wasn’t autistic herself, she took time to understand me as an individual. And it really helped that she recognised that the many of the problems autistic people face in society are caused by society itself and not autistic people.
What tips would you offer to other adults in a similar situation to you or have the same challenges as you did?
My biggest piece of advice is keep trying, because you’ve really got nothing to lose!
I’d also recommend that autistic people spend time thinking about how they can advocate for themselves in work environments. In an ideal world employers would be better informed and would have a greater understanding of autism and how to support autistic employees. But sadly a lot of employers don’t understand and it can be difficult to speak up and say what you need to work at your best.
For example sensory issues can make some environments extremely difficult for ausitic people. But simple things like adjusting lighting or reducing noise levels can have a huge impact.
There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of diverse teams but I don’t think a lot of people really understand what that means and what adjustments might be needed to get the best out of everyone, which is sad I think.
And finally I’d also recommend working with a coach if you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed. It really helped me to get a better perspective and to feel much more confident about my future and what I can achieve.