This month is World Autism Month, and to honour the amazing people that live with Autism Spectrum conditions, I am dedicating this post to them.
I first started working with people with disabilities — different abilities — back in 2004 when I worked as a volunteer, training people with physical disabilities so they could get into the workforce, in Guatemala.
This was very rewarding as I could use both my teaching (IT programmes) and counselling skills (support group), and get to speak to people and hear their experiences first hand.
Supporting people has been something I’ve always wanted to do, and this opportunity was great to start my journey in supporting people with disabilities.
Move forward to 2008, I started my journey into the world of Autism. I got hired to work as a supported living support worker for people that lived at home with their families.
This job gave me a chance to work with some amazing individuals, some of whom I still keep in touch now – a couple of them came to my Wedding, which was lovely!
I am now crossing over to working with people on the Spectrum not only as a support worker but also as a counsellor.
I’ve learned so much from every person on the Spectrum I’ve met and supported.
Taking time to self-care.
- Something as simple as having a bath to help relax and ease pain and stress.
Finding creative and new ways to communicate.
- Many of the people I’ve supported are non-verbal.
- Learning Makaton and other communication skills has been part of the journey.
- Reading non-verbal cues and paying attention to the small nuances and eye-gazes has become routine in my work. I love it.
Counselling people on the Spectrum – Aspergers mostly so far, is so rewarding.
It’s a chance to bring me – a neurotypical – a deeper understanding of how the “Aspie” mind works, and therefore how to best support someone work through their issues in therapy.
Meeting one’s needs and setting clear boundaries is something I am big on, and it is a great duty of care, responsibility and honour to be able to support people with this.
Part of working with ASD and other disabilities is helping the clients/service users to live in this world as it is – easier said than done!…
….but I also believe a great part of working with this group of people, and getting them out in the community (Social Inclusion) is getting us “neurotypicals” and the general public to understand and accept that there are people among us that deserve the same rights and their needs being met as everyone else.
Understanding and acceptance of difference is a great first step to take, to realise how wonderful each person with disabilities and ASDs is. Everyone is an individual, and this applies here as well.
We forget that we are all individuals. “They are all individuals”.
There is a lot to learn from people on the Spectrum and with other varied disabilities…
The struggles each one faces, and yet they are smiling and enjoying life as best they can.
Autism has its ups and downs, it’s not all smiles and fun.
There are meltdowns and medical emergencies (to say the least!).
There are frustrated, confused and sometimes depressed parents and carers.
The world of Autism is really incredible.
I wouldn’t change any of the people I’ve met, for anything in the world.
They are great as they are. They have a purpose as they are.
let’s embrace the differences each person on the Spectrum brings to society…
let’s embrace the greatness that is within those differently-functioning brains and bodies….
let’s learn from the way they are, the way they themselves embrace life and make the most of it…
Let’s accept and understand rather than stigmatise and isolate.