Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright LLP hosted an inspiring panel discussion, 'Asperger Syndrome in the Workplace: a Different Perspective', on 13th June 2016. The aim was to highlight both the challenges and benefits of the corporate world working in conjunction with people with Asperger Syndrome (AS), a form of autism characterised by difficulties in social interaction and social communication.

The event marked a collaboration between Aspierations, an advocate group for people with AS, created to encourage and facilitate their employment and career success in the corporate world, and the Autism Research Trust, which funds research conducted at the Autism Research Centre (ARC) at Cambridge University.

On the panel alongside Professor Simon Baron-Cohen was Laurel Herman, founder of Aspierations together with its chairman Gabriel Herman and Andy Boucher from PwC who provided an employer’s perspective.

The audience, comprising of autistic individuals and families and Norton Rose employees, enjoyed a stimulating, insightful and positive discussion promoting new thinking by corporates when it comes to recruiting, nurturing and supporting employees with AS.

Laurel Herman commented:

From all our anecdotal feedback we believe there to be a high incidence of Asperger Syndrome (often undiagnosed) in the top echelons of the professional, technical and business sectors. People with AS are usually very intelligent and talented but find it difficult to survive, let alone flourish, in the large corporations that could be greatly benefiting from their talent. As an agency we intend to help bridge this gap. We will provide a valuable partnership between employee and employer, and offer hands-on guidance. We are grateful to Norton Rose Fulbright for providing this opportunity to highlight these issues.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen added:

Many people with Asperger Syndrome are unemployed and we need to find them jobs where they feel valued and supported. Autism can confer a significant advantage in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and if these skills are recognised, all parties can benefit.

Our thanks goes to ART trustee, Andrew Buisson, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP who helped organise this event.