I was diagnosed when I was 25. I was actually both relieved and a bit overwhelmed. It was so positive after many years of struggling and not really knowing what was going on to finally be able to connect with others who experienced the world similarly. But, as expected, there was a certain level of confusion and self-doubt too… Always two sides to the coin. I feel much more settled and at peace now with being on the Spectrum. I’m now able to acknowledge my personal limits and triggers and thus manage my energy and emotions better. I’m pretty proud to be an Autism Spectrum Dweller now! ?
I explain it as an alternate way of thinking, perceiving and responding to the World around us.
DIFF-ability not so much DIS-ability. Different but equal. Autism means that there is an exciting growing evolution of diversity in the world. It means that there’s an awareness that certain aspects of current society are going to be challenging for those on the Spectrum.
Autism is a means to positive future change in the world through increased understanding, tolerance, compassion and inclusion.
I love reading connections with the Autism community I’ve been lucky enough to experience over the past few years. I love how my Autistic abilities allow me to experience colour in an entirely different way. I don’t just see colour – I feel it, hear it, taste it, sense its energy. I wish everyone had that.
I also love how I’m able to pick up on the energy of those around me. Due to not being so great at reading facial expressions or emotions my ability to detect energy of others has developed and this has added a unique dimension to my life. It can be overwhelming and tiring at times though!
My family are my main support, especially my lovely mum. A few trusty professionals have been great. The Autism Community I’ve mainly met through my page have been great too.
In my spare time I run a Facebook page ‘Tip of the Asperg’ and I also draw, write and make video blogs …
My time at school was interesting…and a little hideous! I went to a mainstream school, an all-girls public high school with about 1200 females. I need say no more. My favourite part of school was extracurricular! Creative arts, getting involved in stage crew, set design, painting, etc for plays and eisteddfods. Looking back, I’d tell my younger self ‘don’t do it!!’ Nah, kidding. I’d say ‘keep your chin up kid, you’ll get through it’ (and P.S. look up Autism – it’s why you’re feeling so confused and different!). When students struggle, to help themselves they can take a few minutes ‘time out’. Be honest with teachers about your challenges and request short breaks or extra assistance to help rebalance your ‘calm’ if need be. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed by your personal struggles, everybody has their own challenges in life. Remember that you’re worthy and strong and with support everything is possible.
What could be done to make schools more inclusive? Oh boy, where do I start!?
High schools should have sensory rooms or at least a quiet area for those on the spectrum, so they can get some time out. Staff, students and parents could definitely be MUCH more educated about Autism. So education and information workshops and resources would be great.
More inclusive approaches to learning – less focus on exams and grades and more focus on personal development and unique qualities and contributions. Less expectations and greater acceptance.
Later, the hardest thing about moving from primary school to high school, or high school to further study or a job, was change. Change of environment, location, people, general approach to tasks/learning, too much change!! I’d recommend others plan ahead as much as possible so you have some idea what to expect so the change isn’t so overwhelming. I went on to tertiary study because I felt that it was what society expected me to do… I was trying to prove myself I guess…I didn’t cope very well actually! But looking back now and having learned a lot since then, I’d do a lot more forward planning now to avoid the extreme overwhelm and anxiety.
My favourite movie character is Patch Adams, because Robin Williams was a hero of mine… and if, (like Patch) I could be my unique self and use that skill to help others and cheer them up it would be so wonderful! A perfect world looks like worldwide inclusion of all people – the more variety and diversity the better!! A world built upon a base of kindness and compassion…
Right now I’m saying I CAN to life. Just plodding on. Keep my head up.
As Dory says, ‘Just keep swimming’.
The I CAN Network creates a world that embraces El Bee’s strengths. We need your support to continue creating a society that empowers young people on the Autism Spectrum. Join us by donating to our next venture: holding one of our acclaimed camps in Queensland.
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