So, here I am 40 years later from that humble start in the Saturday club. It seems another lifetime ago that I was that teenager, new and inexperienced in the world of disability, knowing nothing but having a humble compassion for the people I met there. I was accepted and welcomed into their lives in equal measure, and I have given that back a hundred fold over the decades since.
I have met so many vulnerable young people in that time, too many to name but they all have left a memory that makes me smile and so proud at the same time. So many situations have seemed impossible, but when I look back, they were all to be learnt from, both from the personal and professional point of view. They have all knitted together, into one big blanket of experience, so that I can draw out pockets of knowledge to help people with todays problems.
I don’t pretend to know it all about Autism, the human race is such a vast and complicated species, but I can usually work out how to help and perhaps give suggestion and guidance where needed. Sometimes the solution is out there in plain sight, it just takes an explanation to sort it out but often it is more complicated that that. The solution has to be unpicked from a big ball of emotion and misunderstanding about how the brain with Autism works. More about that in future posts.
Often the person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will seem to be the odd person, out of sorts with the realities of this world, the person refusing to be put into the ‘normal’ box with everyone else. Who is to say what the ‘normal’ really is, one person’s normal is quite different to another’s and so it should be, sameness is boring. As long as the person gets to the same conclusion in a scenario does it really matter how they got there. In maths these days, there is an acceptance that if the answer is correct and workings out show an understanding, it is acceptable. I remember maths lessons to be a struggle because we were taught parrot fashion and woe betide us if we didn’t get it. It would have been so much easier if I could have got to the answer in my own way. We should never be afraid of doing things our own way, it represents confidence and understanding in a society that is afraid of difference. We all have a little bit of ASD and society is scared of things being different, of things not being normal and we don’t cope with change well. We see our own way as best and we’re not afraid to make others perform as we want them too, it makes us feel less anxious.
So this is me, I have evolved and changed like the rest of you over the years, but there is one factor that has stayed a constant beacon in my outlook on life;
‘ Every one matters, everyone is important collectively, but its compassion for every individual that makes the real difference in their own life’
With that thought I close my post, its the little things that make the biggest difference to those around us, despite physical or mental difficulties, we are all the same inside. We are all entitled to live our lives to the full and we should do all we can to help those who are at a disadvantage. I have spent a lifetime proving that it works, give it a try.