• Wellbeing

TeamBrit’s Asha Silva: Living with Adult Autism

  • By: paralleladmin
  • Posted on: 3rd July 2024

Alison Brown
Health & Wellbeing Specialist

A recent National Autistic Society report stated that there are at least 700,000 autistic adults in the UK, but that only 15% are in employment. One of the reasons we can assume this is the case, is that people of neurodivergence struggle to seek employment where their disability feels seen and therefore accommodated. To help me understand more I spoke with TeamBrit Driver & Service Delivery Lead Asha Silva, who was not long ago diagnosed with Adult Autism & ADHD to understand more about her experience in the corporate world.

Parallel are proud to be Driver sponsors of TeamBrit, who support people with physical and psychological challenges to access motorsport, through technology, inspiration and expertise.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today Asha. When you’re not racing fast cars around the track, please can you start by telling us a little bit about your corporate role and the industry you work in?

So I’m a driver for TeamBrit and I’ve been racing since 2022, around the time I was diagnosed with Adult Autism and ADHD (at the age of 38), and I currently work for a company called WPP, which is in the marketing, advertising & PR world, as a Service Delivery lead.

Photos from the testing at the Algarve in Portugal Feb 2024

How do you feel your neurodiversity contributes to your strengths and abilities in your role as a driver for TeamBrit?

Having a hyperfocus really allows me to get in to what I’m doing, understand why I’m doing it, and engineer how I’m doing it, when I need to do it. There is nothing else around me to send me off my path or trail of thought. It’s really a freedom! From the moment I step into that car and on the track I have a real sense of freedom, and it’s all to do with the fact that my brain just completely works in a different way.

How does being a person of Neurodiversity impact your role and interactions with colleagues, if any, and do you encounter any challenges as a result?

Being diagnosed with Adult Autism and ADHD only impacted my life in a positive way. It meant that I could start to understand why I did things the way I did and why I thought the way I did etc. The biggest positive I had was telling my manager and HR department about my new discovery, it’s allowed me and my work colleagues to understand me a little better and I found that transparency really important.

Photos from the testing at the Algarve in Portugal Feb 2024

How did you navigate these challenges, and what support did you receive from your employer and colleagues?

In order for me to navigate through my challenges I was actually advised to put in a hard stop in my diary. So for example I would have to put my lunch in my diary because one of the things that happens is I get something called ‘time blindness’ – I’ll go into this hyper focused situation once I’m doing something and my mind will go right in the midst of it, and I just won’t come out of it. So I was advised to manufacture a gap so that I can pull away from and do what my brain needs to do -break!

One thing that has really been important is making sure you have the time and space that YOU need to function. For me it can sometimes take a little longer to get to the end goal, including processing and articulating my thoughts. So having that understanding and shared expectation with my employer is beneficial.

What advice do you have for other neurodivergent individuals navigating the workplace?

If you feel like you can relate or feel you are going through something similar, my advice be open and honest. One thing I’ve learnt overtime in the short time I was diagnosed up until now is be transparent with the right people, which in most cases is your HR department, your manager and your peers. Be honest and open with them because they are the ones that will understand when you share what you need in order to function well enough within your team.

Photos from the testing at the Algarve in Portugal Feb 2024

Thank you so much Asha for speaking with us and sharing your experience, we wish you the very best of luck for the rest of the season and what we’re sure is the start of a very successful racing career. For more information on Asha and her story click here.

For more information on how we can support you with your staff Health & Wellbeing benefits contact malcolm.lyons@parallel-eb.co.uk // 020 8874 1230