#TakeFiveWith Alex Manners
Could you tell us about yourself and your job role? And one hobby/fun fact?
My name is Alex Manners, 22 and I have Asperger’s. I present talks on “My Life Living with Asperger’s” and “My Time at School” to many different companies, schools, universities and councils. My talks educate people on what it’s like to live and work with Asperger’s as well as inspiring individuals and families with my positive outlook. I also present my own Children’s Show on Solihull Radio, have started an “Autism & Football” campaign and have recently published my first book called “That’s Not Right! My Life Living with Asperger’s”.
One fun fact is that I can sing the whole “Bob the Builder” song in German. Another cool fact is that I recently completed watching a football match at all 92 English Football League clubs.
What is a typical day like for you?
Each day is different for me as I do so many different things and visit many different places. When I am carrying out one of my talks I normally leave the house very early to ensure that I arrive on time. My talks last for around 40 minutes with time for Q & A afterwards. I have presented talks at places such as Linklaters, Zurich Insurance, Luton Council and Warwick University. I have also presented talks to groups of teachers and students.
If I am not presenting talks I am usually at home writing articles, emailing and phoning as many people as I can, promoting my new book or putting together my next radio show. My Children’s radio show airs every Sunday from 8-10am. I love getting up early as it gives me more time in the day to work towards achieving my dream of becoming a TV Presenter. Hard work never fazes me and I will never give up until my ambitions have been achieved. Traveling all over the UK is just one big adventure.
Could you tell us how you got into your role?
I started writing articles and being interviewed on my Asperger’s a few years ago. After writing many articles and being interviewed many times on the TV and Radio about my Asperger’s I decided that I would like to start presenting talks to organisations and companies. I put a talk together and once it had been written I started emailing and phoning as many places as I could. The very first place I presented a talk was at Warwick University.
The reason that I decided to write a book was to show people what it is like to live with Asperger’s and to help teachers to gain an understanding of how it feels for people with Asperger’s to go to school. When I was writing one particular article for a magazine I asked my dad if he had any information on my struggles at school and the fighting he had done to get me the support I received. He handed me two huge boxes of files containing this information. This motivated me to write a book in order to educate and inspire people not only in the UK but across the world who had been through similar situation as I had.
I started my “Autism & Football” campaign last year in order to enhance the experience of Autistic people at football matches. I have been going to games ever since I was 10 years old and have first-hand experience of some of the many struggles people with Asperger’s and other hidden disabilities can face when attending games. Since I started my campaign I have been in touch and have worked with a number of different clubs advising them on how their grounds, match days and tours can be made more Autism friendly. I have also been interviewed about my campaign by the BBC and ITV.
What motivates you to do a good job?
When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 10 the first thing my dad told me was that my Asperger’s was a positive thing as it gave me special powers. From then on I have looked upon it as something positive. Yes there have been many struggles and stressful times as a result but my Asperger’s also provides me with many positive traits and these are the things that I like to focus on.
Many people with Asperger’s would not feel confident enough with sharing their story or talking in front of large groups of people. Because I can communicate my story in front of large crowds very well and without getting nervous I want to use this skill to educate and inspire others. I have the drive, determination and focus that will allow me to achieve my dreams. If it takes me till I’m 60 then that’s ok as I will never ever give up. The harder I work, the closer I am to achieving my dreams.
How do you learn at work?
I am constantly reading articles about Autism in order to learn as much as I can about the subject and to keep up to date with all the latest news, events and information.
For the past few years I have also been volunteering once a week at a series of therapeutic club for boys with Asperger’s that have been set up by a local Solihull charity called Family Equip. By talking with the boys at these clubs my knowledge on Asperger’s is continually growing. I can even bring some of their stories and strategies into my talks, interviews and articles. I have also gained a better understanding of how others are affected by their Asperger’s.
What are your aims for the next year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?
Over the next year I would like every teacher to have read my book. As a consequence I hope they have a better understanding of just how much school can affect someone who has Asperger’s and hopefully have more empathy for the individuals. I want to make sure that children at school don’t go through some of the challenges that I went through.
I also want to deliver my talks to as many different football clubs and businesses as I can. I would like to help football clubs to become more Autism friendly and ensure that their employees have a deeper understanding of Autism and how to help fans who may also have it. By delivering my talks to businesses they will start to see the benefits that Autistic employees can bring to a company and not just the barriers. I want to break down the stereotypes surrounding Asperger’s and show people the amazing skills some of us have to offer.
YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT ALEX MANNERS ON THE FOLLOWING PLATFORMS:
Alex Manners’ website: www.thealexmanners.com
Alex Manners’ Twitter Account: @thealexmanners
Alex Manners’ book: “That’s Not Right!” My Life Living with Asperger’s
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