This is a special day all over the world for all people with autism.
A day where anyone who has autism or has a sibling/friend/family member can talk about their journey, openly, honestly and give people like us a better understanding of how autism affects us/them/yourself in general.
For me, I find the subject fascinating, hearing the stories, each one different in its own right. Some make you smile, laugh or have a cry as well and today was the day where I hear those stories as well as sharing my own journey to the group.
Doing the #14days of Facebook Live over the past fortnight has helped me to share my story and to help others understand about autism a little bit more. It was fascinating to hear from other attendees that they have watched those Facebook Live videos and saying how good they are.
No pressure for today’s speech at a special autism awareness event then!!!! Especially from a landmark like the Sleaford Town Council building.
As everyone took their seats with coffee and cakes, I was getting prepared with no script, thinking how to explain my story to the room. From doing those videos, what I say comes straight from the heart. Being open, honest, even from the difficult subjects that have been encountered from what we call life.
I started of the talk by explaining how my autism was detected early, in the mid 90s and the difficulty of my violence when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. It was very hard emotionally to express how sad it feels when I get reminded by my mum about that. My mind goes blank in an instant because it hits you so hard in the heart, imagining you were like that in the past.
There were questions afterwards about that moment but you know, the past is in the past, nothing can be done to change that.
The secondary school part of my life, at the Priory School, was definitely a highlight of my life. Talking to like-minded people and focusing more on life skills was one of the best decisions as a family. I also celebrated the very person from Southfields that was with me every step of the way, Joy Palmer, my learning support assistant.
Those were the very good times of my life. But good times may not last as long as you might have wished. I talked openly about the time when I had the meltdown, when mental health took over in my 20’s. When the work agency didn’t need my services, lack of friends to contact and the growing loneliness that suddenly took over. I cried hard because it kept building up and I just had enough of it all and wanted my life to be good again, like it had been back in the past.
The next time I had those problems was as recent at 2017, when my former girlfriend broke up with me and the resulting heartbreak that it entails, came crashing down. I love to try and be busy to keep my mind occupied but at that time, when I had just a minute alone, sitting down, I would easily get upset.
From now, it’s all about finding the right balance for me between being busy and relaxing, that has improved quite considerably now from what it was.
The achievements that have come throughout the last five years has been something to be immensely proud of. From getting my first job, unassisted at the Royal Mail, to overcoming my latest big mental health issue and creating my radio show for Bourne and the surrounding areas.
It was from creating the show, that I have learned so much about the local area and becoming part of a ever growing community.
I finished off the speech by saying that, with the help of positivity and confidence, you can use your autism and help spread positivity and inspiration all around. Autism isn’t a hindrance, it’s not a weakness, you can use what’s good about you, do something good for the community and make the brilliant county a much better place.
Autism is awesome.
There were some open questions from the floor afterwards, from breakdowns to even a Job Centre advisor who asked about have I ever been on job seekers, what can employers do to help recruit autistic people, even about the heavily-criticised Universal Credit.
A fascinating open discussion and with the numbers of autistics in full time employment around 16%, definitely more needs to be done to tackle this issue.
The feedback afterwards when refilling my coffee means the world to me. From the comments on both my Facebook Live and the guest speaker, it makes me feel proud inside to share my story and help others in the process. Even the other guest speakers from the event from close friends, to school children, councillors and family members.
Doing articles, telling about their autism journey and poems from the heart and movement as well, this goes to show that our journeys are different, we all learn from them and telling those stories gives us more of an insight to what autism is all about.
We are the future generation of autistic people and I feel mighty proud to be part of that family.
Thank you for allowing me to tell you my story.