This 22-Year-Old Smashes Stereotypes

This hotel porter proves he is so much more than his diagnosis.

(Olena Yakobchuk /

Shay Bell, a 22-year-old resident of Sydney, Australia, loves his job as a porter in a local five star hotel. According to ABC News, he enjoys welcoming guests with a smile and pushing trolleys loaded with bags and suitcases of all sizes to and from hotel rooms, which is just one of his responsibilities on the job. And although people with autism find themselves often among Australia’s unemployed, Bell, who also has autism, is not part of those statistics.

Smashing stereotypes
According to Head Topics, advocates for people with autism believe that the change that needs to be made is on the employer's side. Professor Sandra Jones, pro vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, told ABC News that many employers could be doing more to give jobs to people with autism. 

If they recognized the value that neurodiverse employees bring to the table and focused on their strength and capabilities, they say, things would be different. Judgements and stereotypes make it difficult for neurodiverse people, a term, reported by Healthline that is used to describe individuals with non typical neurological development and functioning, and it’s harming their career opportunities.   

Unfortunately, often characters in movies and TV shows promote cliches that aren't always accurate such as portraying people with autism as loving math and lacking people skills. Bell is smashing these stereotypes by being front and center at his job, literally positioning himself as the first person the hotel guests meet when they arrive.

The journey
It took Bell a while to find the job he loves. Before the hotel, he had previously worked for a gardener, at a cafe and at a laundromat. Hotel Etico, Australia’s first hotel that gives job training opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, trained Mr. Bell, and helped him set up and prepare for the interview that would subsequently land him his current job. 

Different but the same
Professor Jones believes that the changes that should be made to include non neurotypical employees need not be overly complicated or expensive. It is mostly about making the job application process more accessible, as well as accepting, for example, the way people with autism communicate and act. In other words, it is mainly about understanding and accepting the needs of the potential employee, which is true for any type of potential employee including neurotypical ones. 

Bell told ABC News that he enjoys being paid and saving up money. And as he continues to break stereotypes every day, perhaps more people with autism and other disabilities will have the opportunities to do the same.
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