Employable Me on ABC last night

I have been following this outstanding series for the past three weeks. Last night was the final episode.

Employable-Me

I share the enthusiasm of the people on this thread.

Employable Me follows people with neuro diverse conditions such as autism and Tourette Syndrome as they search for meaningful employment.

This uplifting, warm and insightful series draws on experts to uncover people’s hidden skills and to match job seekers to roles that can harness their strengths.

We all deserve a role in society. That’s what this show is about: striving to belong and play your part. The series looks beyond first impressions to reveal there’s always more than meets the eye.

Anybody else catch this last night?

Wonderfully crafted into an entertaining, yet thought provoking piece, by the producers who I assume are the same ones behind the “You Can’t Ask That?” series. A refreshing break from the other mindless ‘reality’ TV drivel that is awash on commercial television.

It would be hard to call yourself a human if not one little bit of empathy is drawn from you after watching this…

One of the three featured last night was the amazingly talented Cain Noble-Davies.

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See Fighting to fit in: Growing up with autism.

Cain Noble-Davies, 22, was just seven years old when he was diagnosed with autism, but he remembers it like it was yesterday.

“The immediate question that came into my head was, ‘what’s wrong with me?’

“Being told right there that there is something that objectively makes you different from most other people is pretty hard for a kid,” he says on this week’s episode of Insight.

While many look back at primary school with a feeling of nostalgia, for Cain, socialising never came easily and he recalls his school days as some of the worst of his life.

“It would have been what I’d call socialising at gun point.

“All the students had to get along with each other because fighting doesn’t make for the best schools and it is genuinely difficult for me to socialise even at the best of times because I am not that good when it comes to reading social cues.”

Cain’s behaviour and difficulties interacting with other children that would contribute to his depression, anxiety and the dramatic circumstances of his eventual diagnosis of autism.

Cain’s mother, Gretchen Broer, says that she had never heard of autism before Cain’s diagnosis in the 90s, when there was not as much awareness about it as there is now.

Cain was initially diagnosed with Semantic Pragmatic Disorder instead.
Autism was never mentioned when Gretchen took him to doctors as a child, concerned about his slow development, difficulty with speech and aggression.

“The word autism never came up… I didn’t know what that even meant, semantic pragmatic disorder.

“He just said, ‘that’s what it is, that’s explaining the delays and off you go’ and there was no further discussion about it.”

But when Cain’s aggressive behaviour continued in the playground, Gretchen was confronted by parents at school and things got worse.

“I had a woman dive in front of my car when I was pulling out of the school car park to abuse me that Cain had ripped one of her children’s hats.”

“Parents would confront him as a small child, reprimanding him… I felt isolated and Cain was totally isolated at school… it was a nightmare.”

It all came to a head one morning when Gretchen received a phone call from Cain’s school.

“I got the call from the school saying I had to go up there very quickly, there was an emergency.

“I got there to find out that Cain, at seven, had written a suicide note and jumped off the second storey building at school.”….

Do read that whole story! And in Cain’s own words: Autism and job interviews: what it’s like trying to find work when you have ASD. Now Cain writes film reviews on his own blog and for FilmInk, for example Goodbye Christopher Robin .

See also this very thoughtful analysis of the show and the issues: Employable Me has struck a chord but will it change employers’ attitudes to disability?

I was particularly interested in Employable Me because from 2000 to 2005 one of my duties at Sydney Boys High had been mentoring some students on the Autism Spectrum. Back at the turn of the century I was like many of us unaware of Aspergers, so my own learning curve was steep indeed. Of the five I mentored I had a degree of success with maybe three! (One is still a Facebook friend.) I was not working alone of course. There were experts visiting the school, and our two counsellors were great. So I should add was one of the parents, a tireless stirrer and advocate on behalf of her son and “Aspies” generally. Looking back too, with hindsight strengthened by Employable Me, there are some of my past students who fell between the gaps. It was all very new to us back then.

# Do visit Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia.

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