David is a fantastic ambassador for autistic people of all ages as he understands, from his own experience, the challenges they face.
In his role as the Learning Disability and Autism Adviser for the children and young people’s team at NHS England, he is passionate about sharing his story to inspire others.
David, who’s 31, lives in Rotherham. He enjoys his job because it allows him to bring his experience to the team and use it in a way that helps others; “It really matters to me to make a difference to the lives of others” he says.
Growing up with autism
`A Future with Autism’ is a video he made for the NHS Patient Voices website about his journey growing up with autism. It features his own artwork, illustrations and narration. It is in the top 10 most viewed videos on the Patient Voices website with more than 9000 hits in a year.
It inspires young autistic people nationwide to know that they can have a future in employment. It also inspires employers to see people with autism in a positive light and to take the plunge and employ them!
David has been working for the NHS since December 2015, an achievement he never thought possible.
When he was young, his parents were told he didn’t really have a future and he struggled at main-stream school. David turned a corner going to a school for autistic children and then to a learning disability and autism residential college. At college he gained qualifications and learned to live independently.
His job helped him and others redefine how he is perceived. It has taught him to start believing in himself – we certainly think the sky’s the limit for him.
Employment opportunities for his peers
David did a lot of volunteering at the `Speak up Self-Advocacy’ charity when he moved back to Rotherham, eventually becoming a trustee of the charity before gaining full time paid employment at NHS England.
David tells us the biggest challenges were how other people saw him and how he saw himself.
David still lives and works with the challenges of being autistic. Crowded places, large meetings, teleconferences, travelling, staying away from home, meeting new people are challenges he faces with courage and determination in the workplace every day.
“We support David with as much practical stuff as we can to help make this easier, but it’s David who rises to the occasion every time – he is now a confident and a brilliant public speaker!” says Sarah Jackson, Autism Clinical Lead, NHS England.
Phil Brayshaw, David’s manager in the Children and Young People Learning Disability and Autism team says:
“David feels driven to make sure there are employment opportunities for his peers and advocates this at every opportunity. He is keen to support the work of the Children and Young People’s team of which he is a key member. He wants to make sure that every child and young person with a learning disability or autism enjoys the same opportunities that he has. David is a valued member of the team and wider work. He always contributes with passion and energy and leads by example.”
“I feel that David is very passionate about he does and how he helps people. He will go on to do great things” – Leaders’ List 2019 Judge
In the press
- Not one but two Leaders List winners!
Read on keyring.org