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World Autism Awareness Day, an Interview with Sir Nick Hine

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, a day declared by The United Nations to draw attention to the growing need for innovative programs designed to support those with autism.

To celebrate this, we sat down with Sir Nick Hine, Babcock Australasia’s Managing Director AUKUS & International to talk about why he is so passionate about neurodiversity.

Sir Nick shares personal experiences about his diagnosis, describing what living with autism means to him. He also encourages us all to be accepting, kind and to celebrate differences within our organisation.

Tuesday, April 2 is World Autism Day, why are you so passionate about neurodiversity?

I am passionate about neurodiversity because I simply believe it’s the right thing to do. It should be celebrated, we shouldn’t be intimidated or frightened by it.  It’s important to recognise what diversity can bring to the table, such as difference of thought and skills and avoidance of group thinking.

As an organisation I believe that we should be exploring all talent pools as demographics change. I am autistic and know how it feels to be part of the neuro typical world which is full of challenge, and I believe we should all be aware of that.

How did you know you had autism/when were you diagnosed and why did you decide to be open about your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed late in life in 2010 after returning from a year of operations in Iraq.  There were concerns I was suffering from PTSD, but after further investigation it turned out I was autistic, and I was fine.

I think I am lucky because I don’t consider my autism to be disabling, instead I think it enables me to be different. We should all be comfortable with that and so being public helps that debate.

What does living with autism mean to you? Do you encounter daily challenges or hurdles and how do you overcome them?

Every day is challenging, our world is primarily designed by neuro typical people for neuro typical people.

There are things in everyday life that most people find straightforward, such as crowds, noise levels and constant distractions. For me, this just means I must work harder to focus which takes more energy and can be very tiring.

Take supermarkets as an example, they are an abundance of noise, crowds, light and irrational positioning of foods. This can be significantly challenging for me, but luckily you can now do it online.

What can we do better to encourage neurodiversity in the world and in the workplace?

At Babcock one of our six principles is ‘Be Kind’ and this is worth noting especially on World Autism Awareness Day, and every day for that matter.

Neuro diversity is an asset to any business. Business winning and delivery takes all kinds of approaches, some of them are unusual and that’s what diversity brings. Remember many people within the workplace face challenges every day because they think differently.  Let’s be mindful of this and celebrate difference and what that brings.

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