Real-life story: Warren

Warren worked as a banker, a musician and ran a restaurant before training as an occupational therapist a little later in life. He wanted to work with people rather than figures and balance sheets.

He now works as an autism practitioner and clinical specialist occupational therapist with the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

How I got into the role

Members of my family worked in the NHS and I found my way into occupational therapy as a result of being a foster carer. Working with occupational therapists showed me the broad range of the role coupled with an individual focus to understand collaboratively what a person needs to maintain their function, relationships and dignity. I applied for the first occupational therapist support job I could find and was fortunate to be able to train in service a little later.

What I do

I work as an occupational therapist in a Neurodevelopmental Service and my job mainly involves assessing adults for autism. The work is technical, detailed and fascinating. No two days are the same and I appreciate being able to manage my own schedule flexibly.

The best bits

I work with some very bright and highly motivated colleagues who are always ready to share their expertise and experience. I learn the most from the people I meet for assessment, though. They often tell me that a diagnosis of autism helps them gain knowledge and understanding, so they can be kinder to themselves, and helps them explain their needs and differences to those who love and seek to support them more clearly, and with a greater sense of empowerment, direction and ownership. 

It is a great privilege to be able to support someone to unlock their potential in this way and to own and celebrate their diversity. I am often privileged to share the ‘lightbulb moment’ of realisation that life might not be quite so arduous and challenging now that there is an explanation for difficulties in the past, because it means that the future can be viewed more optimistically as a result of clearer understanding. Peace of mind is a very precious gift indeed.