An iridescent glittery white unicorn figurine with a gold glitter horn and a long white mane leans against burgundy and dark grey twig-like flowers with out of focus multi-coloured bright lights in the background

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding autistic people in the workplace and they can be quite harmful.

We’re just as capable, talented and educated as anyone else, but stereotypes and stigma form barriers that prevent autistic people from entering, participating and thriving in the workforce and it’s not OK.

The destructive impact of myths about autistic people in the workplace can be felt anywhere from being misunderstood by colleagues, to being discriminated against in hiring and advancement processes to being unemployed for months or even years at a time despite holding all (and often more!) relevant experience, qualifications and…

A pair of golden skyscrapers mirror each other when viewed from the ground as they loom up towards a cloudy sky

I’m not going to tell you that it’s the ‘right thing’ to do.

I’m also not going to tell you that you’ll be able to get us to do the jobs that your non-autistic employees don’t want to do.

And I am definitely not going to tell you it’s because we have a skillset that predisposes us to a particular role type or industry e.g., science, engineering, technology based roles etc.

You might think these are great reasons to hire autistic people and I can understand why — I’ve seen all three used by people who aren’t autistic to communicate…

An intricate collection of spider webs weave their way between twigs while the sun shines through them

There is an internal war raging inside my head.

Over the last five days I’ve received a much larger amount of feedback about my autism related writing than I normally would and among the emails, comment threads and conversations, there is one common theme.

Why don’t you write something positive about your autism?

And it’s tearing me apart.

This is coming from strangers, friends, colleagues, family and professional contacts whom I respect. Non-autistics and autistics. It’s coming from a wide variety of sources and it’s coming in loud and clear.

On one hand I agree with them but on the…

A brightly coloured carousel horse

December 3rd is my third International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD).

Technically it’s my twenty-sixth, but it’s the third one since I was made aware of my disability that’s been present since birth. I’m autistic and I didn’t find out until I was nearly 30.

Every year since I woke up to the existence of my differently wired brain, I’ve sat down to write a blog post to commemorate another year gone by. In 2016, I hosted an event at my then workplace and I gave a talk sharing my story so far with colleagues and external guests and…

A road winds through a dark forest and while there is a bend up ahead and it’s not possible to see where it’s going, a single column of sunlight shines down through the trees and onto the road

This might seem a little strange but I’ve never really done anything in a manner that might be classified as usual. I’ve lived a life in shades of odd and I’m quite comfortable with that. I’m a late diagnosed autistic person — I was born with a differently wired brain. I found out almost 3 years ago and I’ve spent my entire 8+ year career working in UX specialising in user research, content design and information architecture (IA).

I’ve been working as a contract user researcher for over a year now and I’ve been on the hunt for a suitable…

A cluster of water-coloured umbrellas viewed from underneath as droplets of colour fall away like rain.

This is not an original idea by any stretch of the imagination.

There are several lists just like this one floating around online and having read quite a few of them over the last two and a half years, I felt inspired to create one of my own. While my late diagnosis at the age of 29 in April 2016 turned my world upside down, it also explained a lot.

I’ve pulled together a list of everything that makes me, me.

When viewed in isolation, any one of these things might seem like something that might apply to anyone —…

A single pastel rainbow coloured rose with water droplets

It occurred to me last night that the anniversary of my leap to remote self-employment passed this week without me even noticing. It was two days ago on October 18 while I was away having a blast presenting at A11y Camp 2018 in Melbourne!

A lot has happened in this last year.

I’ve had the opportunity to give more talks than I planned for — many of which I did not have to submit a proposal for. I’ve travelled overseas for work 3 times. I’ve had a minimum of 6 months of contract visibility and security at all times. While…

A concrete wall that’s been painted over repeatedly in a variety of colours as the older layers have worn away

This is the transcript of the 25 minute presentation I gave at A11y Camp 2018 in Melbourne, Australia on 18 October 2018.

I get a lot of emails and social media messages from people who have ideas for products, services and experiences for autistic people.

These messages are usually phrased along the lines of “I’ve come up with this great idea and I’d really love your input”.

When this happens, I feel two things — and usually at the same time. I feel excited and curious but I also get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. As…

It’s been just over 2 years since I was diagnosed as autistic and the ridiculous comments I receive about my neurodiversity never cease to amaze me. After I published the first 15 nuggets of opinion, I couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t even come close to offering a complete picture of the nonsense I’m constantly on the receiving end of. In fact, no single list could possibly contain the plethora of unhelpful comments I’ve received from people who range from being well meaning but ignorant to outright hostile. And they just keep coming! I should write a book on…

This is the transcript of the talk I gave at UX New Zealand presents: Ashlea McKay & Natalie Kerschner in Wellington on 23 May 2018.

You know how when a new movie is released and you see those three little words: ‘Only in Cinemas’? I used to think that meant I had to go see it at the movies otherwise I was going to miss out. Then I’d feel incredibly pissed off and lied to when it came out on video 3–6 months later. This went on well into my 20s.

And this! I don’t understand why this is such…

Ashlea McKay

Autistic. UXer. Writer. Keynote speaker. Quirk monster. Note: This account is not currently being monitored.

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