With an estimated 700,000 people with autism and 5% of people in employment in the UK, Harry Goldfinch from Ramsgate wants to challenge the negative stigma that surrounds autism.
Harry was diagnosed with autism at eight years old, experiencing sensory issues, finding echoes, lights, and sound levels overwhelming. One particular teacher had a negative opinion of Harry saying that he would never amount to anything. However, Harry was determined to prove his teacher wrong.
The lack of understanding around autism resulted in Harry being taken out of school halfway through year six. Harry’s mum worked hard to get the support they needed and gained the support of their local MP. With this help Harry was offered a place at a school dedicated to working with students with learning disabilities. Being a small school of a total of 25 students offering a 2:1 child/teacher ratio they provided a more concentrated style of learning and Harry flourished.
Harry went on to study commercial music at Canterbury Christchurch University and graduated 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.
Joining East Kent Mencap (who support 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 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.
Harry says: ‘With or without autism, everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves and with backing and belief from others, this can be achieved. 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. 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. 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. He is passionate about driving change on some of society’s outlook on autism and their stereotypes.
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