A lot of my work and interests revolve around autism, a neurological condition. At a young age, I received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Being autistic shapes the way I think, act and see the world around me.
Most of the autism-specific work I do is with Advonet’s Leeds Autism AIM project, where I work two days a week as their Information Officer. My role involves giving information via the website, running the social media accounts, producing printed publicity material, creating personalised resources and self-advocacy tools for service users and offering peer support.
Talks, events and meetings
I have delivered a small number of talks and given the odd bit of autism-specific training at the following events:
- The Manchester Autism Show – twice
- RMT Autism in the Workplace training in Doncaster and Birmingham
- Employment events throughout Leeds
I have had a hand in organising a few autism-specific events in Leeds, including the Bigger and Better in Leeds autism awareness event and the Leeds Hidden Talents Employment Fair. I also regularly attend Leeds’ Autism Partnership Board meetings, often as a representative of the autistic people’s reference group.
From late 2014 to late 2016, I was on the committee of Leeds Asperger Adults, a charity/support group. I served as vice-chair, then chair of the group, chairing meetings, putting together newsletters, running their social media and website, organising fundraisers and offering peer support and info.
I am a firm believer in autistic rights. As an autistic person, I know that we are amongst the most disadvantaged groups in society. Just 16% of us are in full-time paid employment, whilst we also encounter obstacles towards us accessing housing, education and healthcare services.
From personal experience, I know that there are many things put in the way of autistic people by society. I, like many other autistic folks around the world, want to put an end to that.
I don’t like it when people suggest that we should be “cured” and that autism is the problem. In fact, the problem is that we haven’t been accommodated. Non-autistic people often have adjustments made for them, so why not us? I also believe that autistic people are capable of speaking for themselves, whether it’s verbally or via the written word.