Hi, Lizzy here. Most of you know me as one of the #ActuallyAutistic Aspie Trainers or maybe you’ve read my contributions to our Facebook page. I’ve recently taken on an additional role as Research and Development Officer for our central team. I manage our website and social media presence, write and update our training materials and ensure we are at the forefront of current thinking on Autism.
I’ve been running Autism courses regularly since June 2018. I absolutely love my job and the chance to work with so many different organizations. Recently I’ve delivered a Neurodiversity workshop at the Sussex University library staff conference; I’ve coached teams at Emmaus and Young Carers Support and ran an open session for advocates and volunteers. One of my favourite things is to run ‘Autism and Adolescence’ and ‘Autism and Girls’ which we deliver on behalf of Coastal West Sussex Mind. The parents who come on these courses in particular really inspire me. There are so committed to understanding and supporting their Autistic young people.
I didn’t discover I was Autistic until I was 42, about 6 months after our oldest son was diagnosed. He is now 8 and we have a 4 year old who we believe is also on the spectrum. I am proud to identify as Autistic and believe my differently wired brain helps me parent my Neurodiverse children in the best way possible. It also allows me to hyper focus on my special interests of photography and writing - all the Aspie Trainers Facebook posts I write feature my own photography.
Being Autistic can be extremely challenging too, especially when you grow up surrounded by Neurotypical people (the predominant neurotype) who think, feel and communicate so differently to Autistic people. This meant that growing up I was acutely aware that I was different, but I didn't know why. I believed I was weird, an alien on my own planet. I felt confused by my peers and misunderstood by my family.
I experience significant mental health problems which is one of the downsides of being Autistic. As you may know Autism is a spectrum condition with many comorbidities. This means each Autistic individual experiences their Autism differently. For some it feels like a super power. Others may feel disabled by their Autism or the comorbid conditions, which can include mental health problems such as anxiety, gastrointestinal symptoms, other neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD or Tourettes, or learning disabilities. When I deliver Autism training I encourage participants to recognise and appreciate the diversity of Autism and to understand that it’s ok to feel and experience Autism differently.
Our Aspie Trainers have unique and personal stories to share and a common goal to help raise awareness and acceptance of our differently wired brains. I look forward to meeting some of you on future courses.
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