Friday, 2 November 2012

Don't Tell Me I Can't Do Something!

So this is a post in relation to a couple of things, including the third annual Autistics Speak Day - which is a day started by autistics in protests of Communication Shutdown Day (a day which aimed to raise awareness of what it's like for people to have autism, by people not communicating on social media for a day). Seems a bit silly to many of use who know being autistic first hand and that autism is not a fancy word for complete-lack-of-communication disorder.

I am a determined person. I am an enthusiastic person. I find a way to make a difference, be different and make myself heard.

So in light of all this, and in living defiance of those kinds of sweeping generalizations (and the fact that yesterday was the start of something new, with me having attended my last class of my undergraduate degree), I am going to present some of the things I've done in the last 12-18 months, that by many people's understanding of autism I probably "shouldn't have".

1. Just over a year ago I, as a result of my own decision, moved into a boarding college... this means that I live not with my family, another family or even with a few house mates - I live with 92 people and am not only present but involved and socially engaged.
2. Started working on this website - . Although it's not the most active or popular site in the world or anything - I am working on growing it and it's definitely communicative.
3. I commenced and completed a training program in one-on-one behavioural therapy with young children with ASDs.
4. I am involved in a couple of government related committees where I advise on autism related issues.
5. I was a successful leader on a busy youth camp for a week with high school aged kids.
6. I applied for two highly competitive graduate programs and reached the final stage of consideration for both. As a result, I was successful in gaining a position in one of these programs so I have a full time job lined up for next year before I have even graduated - something few people in my class have achieved.
7. I am graduating from university with not one but two degrees, and without having had or needed extra help.
8. I am moving to a new state and city next year, where I don't know anyone, because I am determined to make the most I can out of life and make a difference.

I bet plenty of neurotypicals hae just carried on with their lives in the same amount of time and not been actively involved in as many rewarding and challenging experiences and achievements as I have.


Be brave and change!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Well you’ve gotta start somewhere….

After seven months of having this website I think I'm ready to say something.

Sharing yourself - providing information and your experiences for advocating yourself and others and add to the world wide web of interconnected and sometimes irrelevant knowledge out there is a big step. I know it's just a blog and a wesbite but it marks a quiet transition from an invisible silent face of autism to a public one. Making yourself public, even (or perhaps especially) to strangers needs to be a well considered and deliberate step. One I think I'm now ready to make.

As I think about this there are four main questions it raises for me:
1. How much of yourself should you share with the world?
2. How well do you need to know yourself in order to openly share who you are?
3. What am I going to say that is going to be authentic and possibly useful and relevant, or at least mildly interesting to someone else?
4. Will anybody read it and does it really matter if they don't?

For questions 1 and 2 I think I need to be prayerful about what I'm going to say and not say (particularly if it relates to someone I know and not just me because I don't want to break anyone's trust or share anything they may not want put in the public arena). I also need to be comfortable with the fact I am growing and changing just like everyone else and that I can only share what I know and am not responsible for knowing and having thought about everything. I think as long as I'm honest, and prayerful, that even if no one much reads this it is a useful personal exercise in knowing, understanding and thinking about myself and my thoughts on life (which relates to Q3 & Q4). Writing and making up songs are how I often process how I feel about things anyway as my emotional self seems to be less well connected to my conscious (mind) self than for someone who doesn't have an ASD diagnosis.

I think in terms of knowing what to say I need to think of some questions to ask before saying it as well as being prayerful. Questions such as "is what I'm saying true?", "might it help someone else's understanding and experience?", "does it speak positively (or at least constructively and insightfully in a way that brings hope)?" and "does it align with my faith and bring glory to God?".

With this in mind I hope to bless whoever may read this and add to their understanding.