FOR 28-year-old shoe shop assistant Nathan Atkinson, his path to find employment has been more difficult than what most would-be workers face.

Mr Atkinson was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome – a distinct autism spectrum disorder that may come across as the 28-year-old being "brutally honest".

Throughout World Autism Awareness Week, Mr Atkinson is hoping to inspire employers like his to consider job candidates who have also been diagnosed with spectrum disorders.

“I was kicked out of school at 13 and have lost previous jobs as a result of my Asperger’s," said Mr Atkinson.

"It means I can lose my temper more easily than others and finding a job was always difficult.

“But people with autism or Asperger’s tend to be some of the most honest people you’ll ever meet, and they’ll also tend to be some of the most organised and neatest – because that’s how they’re programmed.

“They have a great memory too, and can be a real asset to employers.”

Mr Atkinson began working in the Northallerton branch of footwear retailer Charles Clinkard and has praised the company for its work with Stockton-based autism support charity Daisy Chain.

Through training, staff are able to create autism-friendly environments in its stores.

Mr Atkinson added: “I love the fact this company is very supportive of autism and Asperger’s. Things like offering appointments during quieter times, turning off the lights and having sensory packs for children with autism can make a massive difference.

“For me, when it starts to get really busy in the shop, I have moments where I think, 'oh god, I can’t be here', and I get anxious when things don’t go to plan but my colleagues are all so supportive and I’ve learnt to overcome those feelings."

The 28-year-old is keen to see more people with autism entering the world of work particularly as the National Autistic Society World Autism Awareness Week encourages people across the UK to get involved in activities or help to raise awareness of autism

He said: “One thing that really helped and motivated me during my late teens and early 20s was watching films like Rocky because I could relate to his character quite a lot – and there’s many sayings from the films which would play over and over in my head and inspire me whenever I was feeling down.

“I think the most important thing is to be yourself, that’s what employers want.”