Driving the Digital Age: The Rise and Rise of Neurodiverse Talent in the Workplace (19th July 2018)

Time: Thursday, 19 July 2018 from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm Please note the change of date
Location: Lecture Theatre 1, Kings College London, New Hunt’s House, SE1 1UL, London

Today we present 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 Britain on the autistic spectrum.

Only 16 per cent of those on the Autistic Spectral Disorder spectrum have full-time jobs, according to 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 the potential talent these people have 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, therapies and financing that are at presently woeful in the school system and as they reach adulthood it often becomes non-existent.

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.


13:00 – 13:30 Registration and Networking. Refreshments will be served
13:30 – 13:35 Alex Cairns, COO, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy: Chief Instigator and your host today
13:35 – 13:45 John Collins, Chair, Real Time Club: “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, The NAS: “Changing the World of Autism and Work”
14:55 – 15:30 Annelise Thornton, Regional HR Director – Europe, FieldCore: “Diversity Driven from the Top”
15:30 – 16:00 Fireside Chat: John Collins in discussion with Arran Linton-Smith: “Is Autism a disability?”
16:00 – 17:15 Alison Cairns: MD, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy
Diana Pierags: Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust
Hester Velthius: Senior Researcher, King’s College London: Neurodevelopmental disorders and their treatment
“Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Journey Through Life in the Digital Age”
17:15 – 17:35 Dominic Cairns, University Student; and how this has helped him become a university student: “Growing up with Autism: The Amazing Benefits of Early Years Intervention”
17:35 – 18:00 Speakers’ Panel: Chair, Alex Cairns: “So, what’s next?”
18:00 – 18:10 John Collins, Chair, Real Time Club: “Call to action: We WILL move forwards, here’s how we’ll start”
18:10 – 20:00 Networking drinks and nibbles

About our speakers and presenters

Ray Coyle: CEO, Auticon

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.

Ray will present the CEO keynote this afternoon.

Annelise Thornton: HR Director, FieldCore

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.

Annelise will present HR stakeholder keynote this afternoon and demonstrate why diversity policy can only work when driven from the top of businesses.

Arran Linton-Smith: Autism Employment Advocate, The National Autistic Society, NAS National Forum Member and Guinness World Record Holder

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, championing the opportunities which autistic people bring to business. Arran is frequently asked to speak at major events such as the Autism Professionals Conference in March this year.

Dominic Cairns: Student and early-interventions success story

Dominic is the son of Alex and Alison, who 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.

Alison Cairns: Specialist Neurodiversity Paediatrics Occupational Therapist and MD, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy

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. She is also an accredited tutor for Hampshire County Council Education, Hampshire’s teaching school alliance and has delivered training across the South of England for other organisations. Since Alex joined the Practice full time in 2017, it has grown sufficiently enabling her to take more high-profile training events.

Alison, Diana and Hester will jointly present the clinical keynote this afternoon.

Diana Pierags: Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust

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 Childrens 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, their families and educational settings. She joins Alison presenting training courses and was also a keynote speaker for the NHS at the Occupational Therapy Show, NEC in 2017 and spoke at the Royal College of Occupational Therapy annual conference in 2016.

Hester Velthius: Medical doctor and senior researcher, King’s College London: Neurodevelopmental Disorders and their treatment

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. She is currently running a research study on the brain’s neurotransmitter balance of its main excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).

Alex Cairns: COO, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy

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.

Alex will host the event this afternoon, ensuring continuity between each of our speakers and audience participation.

Dr John Collins: Disruptive Technologist at Innovation Foundry & Chair, Real Time Club

John, among many other things, is Commercial Director of the UK National Centre for commercialising Engineering Biology based at Imperial College London, SynbiCITE (www.synbicite.com). SynbiCITE is tasked with growing industry based on using the engineering of biology to ‘do useful things and make useful stuff to heal us, feed us and fuels us’. John helps turn ‘upstarts into start-ups and start-ups to become grown ups’ through business incubation and acceleration programmes designed specifically for SynbiCITE.

Prior to this John has had a varied portfolio career including R&D, product development, technical sales, business development, international development for a trade association, innovation and digital creativity growth and in educational services. Throughout his careers John has run his own ‘Disruptive Technologies and Innovations Management’ consultancy – Innovation Foundry Ltd. – and continues to work with a diverse spread of technologies.

John will open and close this afternoon’s proceedings and also interview Arran Linton-Smith at our ‘fireside chat’ this afternoon.