Viktor’s autism story: “Employers saw me as weird, but The Brain Charity helped me follow my dreams”
Viktor, 46, had always struggled to hold down jobs. He said many employers didn’t understand him due to his autism, seeing him as ‘weird’. Autism is a developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates. It exists on a spectrum, which about one in 100 people are on.
Viktor, who was born in Hungary but now lives in St Helens, Merseyside, wasn’t diagnosed with autism until 2019, aged 44. This was despite many people finding similarities between him and Dustin Hoffman’s titular autistic character in the Hollywood film Rain Man since its release in 1988.
Viktor said: “I’ve always been able to feel my autism, I just didn’t know what it was called.
“When Rain Man came out in cinemas, many friends and family pointed out that I seemed like Dustin Hoffman’s character because of my memory.
“I could recall all the full names, dates of births and addresses of most of the people from my town.
“But despite that, people still didn’t really know what autism was or what it meant.
“My behaviour isn’t considered normal, and so people – especially employers – treat me as if I’m weird.
“It can be frustrating, because I’ve got really useful skills. I am very detail-oriented.
“I can pick up and remember things other people miss.”
Growing up, Viktor often wasn’t aware of the symptoms of his autism. As a child he would hit himself – even breaking his fingers – but when teachers confronted him, he didn’t know he’d been doing it.
He found out about The Brain Charity by chance in January 2020 during a visit to Liverpool Central Library, and, realising our centre was just down the road, decided to pop in straight away.
Viktor started regularly coming into The Brain Charity centre for support, but these meetings were halted when COVID-19 closing the building temporarily last March.
Luckily, when we quickly set up The Brain Charity’s phone befriending service, matching service users with volunteers to support them with weekly telephone calls, Viktor was keen to take part.
Since then, his regular calls with volunteer Julian have helped him take steps closer to following his dream of becoming a legal liaison officer for employment disputes. Viktor said The Brain Charity’s support saved him from ‘desperation’.
He added: “I think my skills for picking out details could really help people who are falling through the cracks when it comes to employment tribunals – they could even save some people.
“I am proud of my abilities that come from my autism, but I’m not usually given the chance to use them.
“The Brain Charity’s befriending service helps me have the confidence to keep following my passions.”
Published: 19 March 2021