Anna’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ was Greg Smith
Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station was Greg Smith .
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week. Please see www.womensradiostation.com
My name is Greg Smith I am 24 years old and am from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
My story started when I attended a mainstream primary school in Bury St Edmunds, thinking I was fine, not old enough to know that I had already been diagnosed with ASD. I had friends and teachers that understood me and had a happy time there.
Next, I was lucky enough to attend Priory school in Bury- which is a school for children with mild to moderate learning difficulties. It taught me how to be more independent and confident which prepared me for life in the bigger outside world. I completed my education and achieved 8 Entry Level and one GCSE qualifications.
I currently work as a production worker for a Social Enterprise company called Harry Specters in Ely, Cambridgeshire which is very well renowned for its high-quality chocolates and employs people with autism, giving them the opportunity of working in paid employment.
I have been working at Harry Specters for over 3 years as an assistant chocolatier.
It has changed my life hugely as a person as I am now financially independent and the Shahs have inspired me to do other things such as spreading the word about living with Autism and promoting equality rights for people of minority groups, including people with Autism.
Listening to Mona Shah on the radio has inspired me to try and follow in her footsteps in promoting the autistic community as a valuable part of a workforce.
Autistic skills such as following rules, planning and sticking to timescales, make people with autism effective and valuable members of a workforce.
After finishing college, I spent over a year applying for a range of jobs such as Warehouse work and working at the Royal Mail, jobs that I could have done very well if I was given the chance.
Unfortunately, the interview process was very difficult for me as the questions were usually too complicated and confusing. I believe there needs to be more understanding by employers when interviewing people with disabilities.
On weekends I am a karting driver who competes in the Club 100 Lightweight Sprint Championships at tracks around the UK where many British F1 drivers started their careers.
I drive myself to these events as I passed my driving test in 2016 after a lot of hard work, which has really helped with my independence.
I completed my first year with Club 100 and last December I won the Lightweight Sprint Class 3 Championship.
I am entering my 2nd year with them as a Lightweight Sprint Class 2 driver for 2021. I believe that my Autism has made me a better driver, as I take my time to study track layouts and plan timings and tactics to get the best out of myself.
On my crash helmet, I proudly carry the Autism Awareness ribbon to help drivers that I compete against understand who I am and why I was diagnosed with Autism as a child.
Also, during 2020 in the pandemic crisis, I have met some amazing people from an owner karting team called AIM (Autism In Motorsports) who have some very talented drivers. Their aim is to bring in and inspire young people with autism into the world of motorsport to see if it is the right competitive sport for them.
I want to help inspire people with autism that no matter what barriers that hold you down, you can still get past those walls and make it into highly competitive sporting environments such as karting and make a very successful career out of it to help gain improved normality in society and most of all, equality.
Doing an interview on Women’s radio station is an important way for me to speak up for myself and the autistic community. Speaking to Anna Kennedy OBE was a huge honour and a privilege.
What keeps me positive is my racing, working with Harry Specters and now, trying to promote a positive message about living with Autism.