Autism and Future Employment Event, London, July 19th, 2018

The Rise and Rise of Neurodiverse Talent in the Workplace

At this event, we presented how if we drive the digital age by empowering it with new employees who are autistic, we can provide employment, careers and life changing opportunities; we will show how early interventions can lead to lifelong opportunities for all, particularly those focused with skills in IT.

There is a huge un-tapped potential in the 700,000+ people in the UK who are on the autism spectrum.

Only 16 per cent of autistic adults are estimated to be in full-time paid work, according to the National Autistic Society. Yet Steve Silberman, author of ‘NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity’, says that many, if given the right help, could find employment and develop successful careers.

It’s time to match this potential talent  to jobs and employment opportunities where characteristics such as attention to detail, adherence to patterns, the ability to repeat tasks and loyalty are prized; our digital age has created both an ideal workplace and can now offer jobs in IT and other industries or sectors for this potentially highly-talented group.

In the UK forward-looking companies such as Auticon, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Deutsche Bank Harry Spectres Chocolates and Specialisterne have seen and are acting on the great potential offered by autistic workers; there are growing opportunities for employment – but this can be best driven by early-years provision of services, support and financing that are at presently woeful in the school system and as they reach adulthood it often becomes non-existent.

A number of organisations partnered with us putting on this event including: Auticon, The Chairman’s Network and the Young Professionals Group at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. The Institute of Directors advocated their positive support for both this event and people with autism in the workplace.

We’re on the road to making a difference - we’re calling on you all to help make that difference and to empower the digital age with IT skilled people who are more capable because they’re on the spectrum and in our sights.

Who attended (110 in all) ?

  • Business people and professionals, especially Directors, Chairpersons and CEOs
  • Education professionals - especially those in secondary and further and higher education
  • People who have autism - especially young people embarking on their career
  • HR Directors and professionals who are interested in expanding their diversity strategy 
  • Clinical people - those who work with  children and young adults with high functioning autism
  • IT professionals, developers, engineers, consultants who may have autism themselves
  • In fact - anyone who has an interest, network or experience that can help make a difference for high-functioning young people with autism to gain employment

The Venue - Kings's College London, Bush House

Formerly the home of the BBC World Service, we used the magnificent 395 seat Auditorium in this iconic building, which is now part of the King's College London campus. 

If you have any questions, please email

Date:           Thursday July 19th, 2018 @1pm

Venue:        The Auditorium

                    King's College London

                    Bush House

                    30 Aldwych


                    WC2B 4BG

Hear introductory video clips from:

Alex Cairns

Annelise Thornton (HR Keynote)

Arran Linton-Smith (Win Win Win)

Arran Linton-Smith (Autism Keynote)

Alison Cairns (Clinical Keynote)

Diana Pierags (Clinical Keynote)

Dominic Cairns

Hester Velthius (King's College London)

Kim Rüfenacht (Asperger's at Work GmBH)

Ray Coyle (CEO Keynote)

Reena Dayal (IoD Central London)

Programme at Bush House



13:00 - 13:30  Registration and Networking. Refreshments will be served

13:30 - 13:35  Scene setting (Alex Cairns) – 5 mins 

13:35 - 13:45  Challenging modern employment practices: Diversity in the digital age

13:45 - 14:20  Ray Coyle, Auticon CEO: Delivering promise for the digital age

14:20 - 14:55  Arran Linton-Smith, Autism Employment Advocate

14:55 - 15:30  Annelise Thornton, Regional HR Director - Europe, FieldCore: Diversity driven from the top

15:30 - 16:00  Fireside Chat: “Is Autism a disability?” John Collins in discussion with Arran Linton-Smith

16:00 - 16:05  Reena Dayal: IoD support for this event and autistic people in business 

16:05 - 17:15  Occupational Therapies making a difference in early years education: 

                         Alison Cairns: Specialist Neurodiversity Paediatrics Occupational Therapist

                         Diana Pierags: Clinical Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist, Lewisham and 

                         Greenwich NHS Trust 

                         Hester Velthius: Senior Researcher, King’s College London: Neurodevelopmental 

                         disorders and their treatment

                         Gráinne Yeatman: Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist

17:15 - 17:35  Success in early intervention: Dominic Cairns - on the ASD spectrum describes how he 

                         has benefitted from early years intervention and how this has helped him become a 

                         university student

17:35 - 18:00  Speakers’ Panel: So, what next? Chair: Alex Cairns 

18:00 - 18:10  Call to action: how we’ll move forwards? 

18:10 - 20:00  Networking drinks and nibbles

Speakers and Presenters

Ray Coyle


A seasoned businessman who joined Auticon in 2016 to grow the Business across Europe and develop a global footprint. He has 150 staff across Europe, of whom all 120 consultants are on the Autistic Spectrum delivering complex consulting assignments primarily into FTSE 250 businesses. 

Video Preview

Annelise Thornton


Annelise is an experienced HR professional who actively manages ‘diversity’ across businesses in all its forms. She actively encourages business to recognise the opportunity professionals on the Spectrum can bring to complementary winning teams.

Video Preview 

Arran Linton-Smith


Arran has experienced the most varied career of all our speakers. He always knew he was ‘different’ but he only received his autistic diagnosis in 2012. He is now a successful senior consultant with Interserve Construction and has appeared on radio, television, in the media and spoken in the House of Parliament for the National Autistic Society of which he is a National Forum member.

Video Preview - Win Win Win

Video Preview

Alison Cairns


Alison has been an Occupational Therapist her entire career, specialising in paediatrics for the last 20 years. She left the NHS in 2013 to start Ace Children’s OT enabling her to focus on both assessment and treatment of children with: ASD, Dyspraxia and Sensory Integration difficulties, also congenital disorders such as Downs.

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Diana Pierags


Diana specialised in paediatrics during her BSc Honours degree and consequent Masters in advancing practice in Occupational Therapy. She currently divides her time between the NHS and Ace Children’s OT. Diana is an advanced practitioner in sensory integration and specialises in working with children with ASD and regulation difficulties as well as using the SCERTS framework for children with ASD

Video Preview

Hester Velthius


Hester is active as a medical doctor and researcher in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (such as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders) at King’s College London and the Maudsley Hospital. 

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Gráinne Yeatman


Gráinne is a Speech and Language Therapist (Bsc Hons) with 17 years experience. She supports students with Autistic spectrum conditions and complex speech, language and communication needs, covering early years to college students.

Dominic Cairns


Dominic is himself on the Autistic Spectrum. He volunteered to present his own story and the benefits of early intervention with his diagnosis which has enabled him to achieve academically and mature socially. Dominic is currently a student at the University of Winchester.

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Reena Dayal


Reena Dayal is a Committee Member of the Institute of Directors, Central London Branch; an Author, Executive Coach, Mentor and Trainer to senior Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs. 

Video Preview

Alex Cairns


Formerly a global IT executive, Alex took a career break after a number of board-level interim roles and decided to join Ace Children’s OT full time to grow the Practice, enabling treatment of more children and creating events such as the one you are attending today.

Video Preview

Dr John Collins


John is Commercial Director of the UK National Centre for commercialising Engineering Biology based at Imperial College London, SynbiCITE.

Camera Crew


Just so you all know, we'll be filming this event.