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Live talk available at the below date and time. The Electrical Industries Charity presents a wellbeing series of inspirational speakers and leading experts in mental health, law, and reliance. The series is uplifting and educational on a range of issues impacting our industry. Format of the series will be a 50-minute virtual presentation followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers facilitated by the Charity CEO, Tessa Ogle.

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Ife Thomas forged her fame as a dancer on the X Factor, following a fast-paced and demanding career in her youth. From joining girl bands and performing across the BBC, to making cameos in commercials and featuring in the music videos of the stars, Ife was never far from the limelight. Unfortunately, Ife’s jam-packed performing career was brought to a grinding halt after she sustained a serious knee injury, leaving her unable to keep up with her demanding schedules. Drawing her performing to a close, Ife did not let her misfortune get her down and she worked her way into appearing on Big Brother in 2010.

Having won the heart of the British general public with her dancing appearances and Big Brother antics, Ife has since forged a career as an author and motivational speaker. Changing direction from the jam-packed entertainment world, Ife has honed her skills as a speaker and has also diversified into corporate finance. Swapping her dance attire for a business suit, Ife became the Executive Director of The Ladder Agency and then the Managing Director of The National Accountancy Network. Under her careful watch, The National Accountancy Network thrived, and Ife developed a strong passion for business.

Experiencing throughout her career what it takes to reach both physical and mental peak performance, Ife is now considered an authority in the worlds of sales, marketing, business and corporate coaching. Having founded the National Network of Chartered Accountants, Ife has led a diverse career and her breadth of knowledge is impressive. Ife has also founded MindWorkOut, a company helping to improve wellbeing, and has created The Confidence Star. Mental health and wellbeing are of optimum importance to Ife, and she passionately advocates their importance. A mother of two boys, one of which has autism, Ife is often seen delivering talks on building self-esteem and helping people to be more resilient in the world around them. Ife is also the author of Powerlift Your Career: Everything You Need To Succeed, compiling a number of techniques to help in careers and life.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Ife was determined to help people with their mental health and wellbeing. In order to do this, Ife set up several social media groups, such as Lockdown Motivation: Powerlift Your Life, which have been credited to have motivated, empowered and inspired people during the hard times of lockdown. Ife has also been a prominent activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, forging a reputation as a strong and empowering black female. Rocked by the death of George Floyd as many were, Ife felt that she needed to take action and so began to dedicate her online presence to support black lives.

Now a highly sought motivational speaker, Ife is seen delivering to a range of different audiences. Sought to spread awareness of mental health and wellbeing, Ife is often seen speaking about boosting self-esteem and confidence. As a mother, she is also often sought to speak about helping children to find their own unique talents, motivating the parents in her audiences to empower and encourage their children to have the confidence to do anything they put their mind to. Described to have infectious energy, Ife is well-received at all events she attends and leaves audiences motivated to create positive change. Previously she has been sought to speak at The Hope Centre, for MIND Mental Health Charity and the National Autistic Society, proving to be a popular, authentic and passionate speaker.

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Around 700,000 people in UK are living with autism and around 1 in 100 children have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. As an employee of the electrical and energy sector you are entitled to support from EIC if you or someone in your immediate family is living with autism. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and nonverbal communication. If you work in the electrical sector and have been diagnosed with Autism as a child or an adult, it could affect your emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. With one in 57 children being diagnosed with ASD, it is prevalent that society is educated on how to accommodate and support those with the disorder.

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Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses. Below is a list of difficulties autistic people may share, including the two key difficulties required for a diagnosis. Click on the plus sign for more information.

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Autism spectrum disorder begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society — socially, in school and at work, for example. Often children show symptoms of autism within the first year. A small number of children appear to develop normally in the first year, and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop autism symptoms.
Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls, with 1 in 4 identifying with it. 1 in 144 girls identified with autism, which is due to the disorder being harder to detect in females. Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups; however, minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.

Children with Autism

As ASD is usually detected in childhood, it’s important to look out for some of the most common signs. Some of these include:

  • Not responding to their name
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Not smiling when you smile at them
  • Getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound
  • Repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body
  • Not talking as much as other children
  • Repeating the same phrases

If your child hasn’t been diagnosed at early childhood, the signs to look out for can differ:

  • Not seeming to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • Finding it hard to say how they feel
  • Liking a strict daily routine and getting very upset if it changes
  • Having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
  • Getting very upset if you ask them to do something
  • Finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on their own
  • Taking things very literally – for example, they may not understand phrases like "break a leg"

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Adults with Autism

Autism in adults can be a lot harder to detect compared to in childhood. These are the main signs that an adult may have the disorder:

  • Finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • Getting very anxious about social situations
  • Finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own
  • Seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to
  • Finding it hard to say how you feel
  • Taking things very literally – for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases like "break a leg"
  • Having the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes

Autism in Men

Autism is more commonly diagnosed in males than females; therefore, boys who have autism grow into men with autism. According to the Young Men’s Health webpage about autism, “boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.” Some of the main traits of Autism in men are:

  • Lack of interest or feeling awkward about interacting with others.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Saying inappropriate things at times.
  • Repetitive behaviours or body movements (e.g., hand flapping, jumping up and down).
  • Becoming upset if their daily routine is changed.
  • Dislike of being touched.

Autism in Girls and Women

Attitudes towards autism and gender are changing, although we still have a long way to go. Many autistic women and girls are still struggling to get the support they need. There have been various theories to explain why more men and boys get an autism diagnosis, including:

  • Women and girls are often better at masking or camouflaging their difficulties.
  • Autism traits in girls are under-reported by teachers.
  • A range of biological and environmental factors may mean men and boys have a higher prevalence of autism.
  • There is a 'female autism phenotype' - in other words autistic females have characteristics which don’t fit with the profile. 

Autism and BAME people

A blog from Venessa Bobb, Branch Officer of the National Autistic Society, discusses the difficulties black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) autistic people and their families face when accessing support. Research has shown that autistic people within the BAME community experience double discrimination, due to their ethnicity and disability. There is a lack of research about the experience of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. This means it can be even harder for autistic people in the BAME community to get the support they need.

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A common question after an autism diagnosis is what the cause of autism is. We know that there’s no one cause of autism. Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental, influences. These influences appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism. However, it’s important to keep in mind that increased risk is not the same as cause. For example, some gene changes associated with autism can also be found in people who don’t have the disorder. Similarly, not everyone exposed to an environmental risk factor for autism will develop the disorder. In fact, most will not.
Research tells us that autism tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child (even if the parent does not have autism). Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, many of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They simply increase the risk for the disorder.

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Research also shows that certain environmental influences may further increase – or reduce – autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Importantly, the increase or decrease in risk appears to be small for any one of these risk factors.

Increased risk:

  • Advanced parent age (either parent)
  • Pregnancy and birth complications (e.g. extreme prematurity [before 26 weeks], low birth weight, multiple pregnancies [twin, triplet, etc.])
  • Pregnancies spaced less than one year apart

Decreased risk:

  • Prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, before and at conception and through pregnancy

No effect on risk:

  • Vaccines. Each family has a unique experience with an autism diagnosis, and for some it corresponds with the timing of their child’s vaccinations. At the same time, scientists have conducted extensive research over the last two decades to determine whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The result of this research is clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.

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Autism is a spectrum condition that affects people in different ways. Approximately 700,000 people in the UK are living with autism and it’s typically characterised by challenges with social skills, engagement in repetitive behaviours, or difficulties in speech and communication. It’s a widespread condition with around 1 in 57 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The EIC is committed to supporting not only those who have been diagnosed with autism or any other mental health condition but anyone who is affected through an immediate family member. An example is Lilly who at 13 years old had seen her mental state deteriorate since her grandfather had passed away in March 2020. She had become increasingly withdrawn and wouldn’t leave the house, refusing to even go to school. She was very intimidated by her peers with the reason for this uncertain. She also refused to change her clothes and bathe, and communicated thoughts of suicide. Her parents had removed all potential risks in the house, but they were living in a heightened state of anxiety.

Lilly had an initial assessment with the Children’s Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in May 2020 where she was diagnosed with general anxiety and depression. However, the services said support could only be provided from May 2022. Lilly’s GP and other support services had six therapy sessions with her but discharged her from their care once they learned she was awaiting treatment through CAMHS. Terrified she was going to harm herself, Lilly’s mother obtained permission to work from home in order to monitor her, but it was impractical to provide this level of supervision 24/7.

Although Lilly had not seemed significantly upset following her grandfather’s death at the time, it appeared to have acted as a trigger for the deterioration in her mental health. Over the summer of 2020, Lilly was in the process of receiving therapy from an NHS bereavement therapist who visited her in her home. At this point, her father John explained that for the last three years, he and his wife had been noticing traits of behaviour suggestive of autism in Lilly. She was highly anxious in crowds, usually wanting to run. She had strained interactions with her peers and her communication was generally awkward and erratic.

At this point, John’s boss got in touch with the EIC to seek support for the family. As John is an employee of the electrical and energy sector, he was entitled to support for anyone living with autism in his immediate family. As a result, the EIC is currently funding a full assessment for Lilly to get an accurate medical diagnosis.

The help Lilly’s family was able to access is due to the support of the EIC and the powerLottery. It means the family are getting the support they need to get a timely and accurate diagnosis for Lilly and move on to the next stage of treatment. Without powerLottery, EIC would not be able to offer support to people like John and his family. That’s why we need you to become a powerLottery player to help EIC to continue supporting our industry members.

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powerLottery is the only lottery made for our industry by our industry. It gives players 40 chances to win cash prizes ranging from £50 to £1,000 every single month. A £10,000 draw bi-yearly gives you even more opportunity to win BIG. A new car, a holiday in the sun, a kitchen re-fit or a brand-new wardrobe… Think of all the different ways you could spend £10,000.

To sign up to play the powerLottery today, click here:

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In recent year, the DSM 5 (the diagnostic manual used by psychiatrists in the USA) has changed the classification names for autism spectrum disorder, removing terms such as ‘Asperger’s’. As the UK manual (the ICD-10) normally follows the DSM 5, it is likely that ‘autism spectrum disorder’ will become the commonly given diagnostic term.

Currently, as of 2018, the following are subtypes of autism that are recognised within the UK:

  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Pathological demand avoidance (PDA)
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified)

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Autism is often defined and described in terms of deficits. This happens to determine what supports are needed, for program design and implementation, and level of funding; but always talking about what a person can’t do or do as well as their peers can be demoralizing. Improvement can be difficult to see, and small but significant gains are not celebrated. Talking about the deficits can also affect self-esteem and a person’s well-being. Thinking about autism in more favourable terms will change your thinking and responses towards someone with autism.

There is a tonne of positive attributes to being Autistic, including:

  • Attention to Detail – there is both a thoroughness and accuracy around specific details. This can be a real plus in jobs that require that skill such as quality control.
  • Deep Focus – concentration level can be very focused, allowing for freedom from distraction.
  • Observation Skills – there is a listen, learn, look approach to learning. Facts are researched.
  • Absorb and Retain Facts – the long-term memory is excellent with superior recall.
  • Expertise – there is in-depth knowledge on a topic and a high level of skills.
  • Methodical Approach– thought processes are analytical; can spot patterns and repetitions. Science, math, and music are subjects that have patterns in them. Organizing and categorizing use these skills.

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If you or a loved one has been newly diagnosed with Autism, there are a lot of things that can help you cope with this change in your life. The NHS recommend to:

  • Give yourself time: People react to a diagnosis of autism in different ways. For some, it's a relief to find out why they or their child think, feel and act the way they do. For others, it can be a shock. Try to give yourself time to come to terms with the diagnosis.
  • Find help and support services: You might feel alone when you or your child are first diagnosed. But there are places you can get support.
  • Listen to other people’s stories: Some people find it helpful to find out about other people's stories of autism.
  • Look out for other health problems: Autism is not an illness. But many autistic people also have other conditions. These are not always checked for during an autism assessment. See a GP if you have any concerns about your or your child's health. They can help you get any extra care you need.
  • Find out more about Autism: It might help you and your family to find out more about autism.

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If you’ve recently learned that your child has or might have autism spectrum disorder, you’re probably wondering and worrying about what comes next. No parent is ever prepared to hear that a child is anything other than happy and healthy, and an ASD diagnosis can be particularly frightening. You may be unsure about how to best help your child or confused by conflicting treatment advice. Or you may have been told that ASD is an incurable, lifelong condition, leaving you concerned that nothing you do will make a difference.

While it is true that ASD is not something a person simply “grows out of,” there are many treatments that can help children acquire new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges. From free government services to in-home behavioural therapy and school-based programs, assistance is available to meet your child’s special needs and help them learn, grow, and thrive in life.
When you’re looking after a child with ASD, it’s also important to take care of yourself. Being emotionally strong allows you to be the best parent you can be to your child in need. These parenting tips can help by making life with an autistic child easier.

  1. Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.

  2. Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kid’s challenging or disruptive behaviours and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.

  3. Accept your child, quirks, and all. Rather than focusing on how your autistic child is different from other children and what he or she is “missing,” practice acceptance. Enjoy your kid’s special quirks, celebrate small successes, and stop comparing your child to others. Feeling unconditionally loved and accepted will help your child more than anything else.

  4. Don’t give up. It’s impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Don’t jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.

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Early diagnosis can make a huge difference in the lives of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. But it’s not always easy to make an ASD diagnosis. There’s no lab test for it, so doctors rely on observing the behaviours of very young children and listening to the concerns of their parents. ASD has a very wide range of symptoms. Some people who are “on the spectrum” have severe mental disabilities. Others are highly intelligent and able to live independently.

If you or your child have signs of autism, the next step is to talk to someone about it. You could speak to:

  • A GP
  • A health visitor (for children under 5)
  • Any other health professional you or your child see, such as another doctor or therapist
  • Special educational needs (SENCO) staff at your child's school

Ask them if they think it's a good idea to refer you for an autism assessment. An assessment is done by autism specialists. It's the only way to find out if you or your child are autistic. If you go for an autism assessment, the clinician will use a diagnostic tool to help decide whether you are autistic or not. These tools include the DISCO (Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders), the ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview - Revised), the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and 3Di (Developmental, Dimensional and Diagnostic Interview). They all assess you against a set of criteria for autism, found in diagnostic manuals ICD-10 and The DSM-5.

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If you or someone you love is struggling with Autism or are wanting to find out more information about the disorder, there are many support services available:

National Autistic Society:
Child Autism UK:
Ace Education:
Ambitious About Autism:

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One of the keys to a better version of you, mentally and physically, is sleeping well. We want all of our industry members to sleep as well as they can that’s why EIC have partnered with Sleepstation. Sleepstation is a clinically validated sleep improvement programme that can help you learn how to control and optimise your sleep to get the best sleep possible. Designed by experts and backed by science, the online service is proven to combat even the most severe insomnia. Their team will help you identify the underlying causes of your sleep problem and provide the personal support and guidance needed to improve your sleep. Sleepstation delivers remote care with a personal touch and that's what makes it so effective. Therapeutic support through Sleepstation is available to those in need and meeting our charity eligibility criteria.

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