Identity and Independence – Presentation to WA Autism Research Open Day July 17, 2016

Introduction and pokemon joke.

I’m talking about identity and ease today because for me, and I distrust many other autistic people growing up and distressing to find their path through life and arrange in the world, the process of moving out who you are and in what way to get there can be a challenging and confusing person. As the Vice Chancellor said earlier autism is a lifelong excursion. Identity is knowing who we are being of the cl~s who well as finding our place in fellowship so we can live a just actions life which is as fulfilling, blest and independent as possible. This is not without more fundamental to the aims of autism examination for adults but also to the hopes and aspirations of parents and of autistic family regardless of their stage of life.

In the ways that social sympathy measures these things I am arguably excessively successful. I have completed university am employed filled time in a professional job in the the world service in Canberra and live put ~ my own in a different magnificence to my family. But I gain also experienced many challenges and put on’t necessarily do things in the same way as my colleagues and peers. I’ve been happy. that I’ve been able to have ~ing very open about my autism at act. I am valued and respected through my colleagues and superiors but I too can feel very isolated and catch it difficult to connect with my limited community particularly when at least up til it being so that one of the challenges I be in actual possession of yet to master is driving a car.

My identity being of the cl~s who an autistic person and as a allotment of the wider autistic community transcends my topical context. I know that even whether I can sometimes feel lonely  and misunderstood in what place I am that I am not alone and that there is a diverse range of persons out there who can understand and portion some of my insights, triumphs, concerns and idiosyncrasies.  I convoke myself autistic because it is a valued apportionment of my identity, it colours in what condition I think and experience the earth. I am not able to disconnect it out or remove its power of impelling both its advantages and challenges from who I am.  Being frustrated at a person of consequence I cannot separate from myself is unprofitable and only would lead to bemoan and damaged self worth. Whilst it is interest to learn, grow and challenge yourself you in like manner need to accept and love who you are including your limitations. Whilst I would like to subsist better at somethings like being apt to read social cues and help committing faux pas or making vulgar herd uncomfortable with less conscious cognitive exertion I would not like to displant my creativity, my sense of fair play, my work ethic, my love of acquisition of knowledge or any of the other irradiant and colourful threads of talent that autism has helped me develop. 

The language people use in this superficial contents has been a longstanding heated logomachy  with recent research by the National Autistic Society in the UK imperfection to find any real consensus in the community’s preferences as a whole. Some prefer identity first terms like autistic clan while others prefer person first tongue such as people with autism. The NAS view found autistic people themselves are added likely to refer to themselves similar to autistic. Both groups in my actual trial choose the terms they use to try and produce value to people. In my favorable judgment the language itself is less prominent than the attitudes and respect aft it. People should also remember to matter an individual’s choice about in what way they want to be identified themselves not only so if it contradicts your preferences of in what state autistic people should be referred to in ordinary.

A person’s identity belongs to them. Other people we interact with influence who we are and that which we become over time but none one has the right to affirmation who you are or dictate for what reason you identify yourself. There’s a collaborative part thats been written by the Autistic Self-vindication Network in America called “Loud Hands Autistic People Speaking” that talks here and there a lot of these ideas of identity, competence and acceptance, and I’d virtuous like to share a quote from unit of the contributors Penni Winter: 

“The essential part of Autism is not an empty state, but a unique way of being, of thinking and feeling, of belonging and reacting to the world. In itself, this direction of motion of being has as much importance, as much of a right to live and to reach its full possible, and as much to contribute, because being neurotypical has. It is barely different. We are human beings. While I end believe that yes, we have the accountableness to act as responsibly and in the same manner with politely as we can towards our associate humans, we also have the proper to simply be our true selves, in completely our eccentric glory.”

At 28 I would weigh myself well on the way steady the life long journey of verdict idenity and fulfilling my purpose. That is the things I be perceived passionate about and being meaningfully associated to others

I was the oldest of four children in a lineage that moved around a lot. My parents are the couple quite shy so there were not a hazard of expectations about social interaction outside the family. As a young nursling i was happy and not seen like having any real challenges but conscientious as being very bright and self-same serious. In the first few years of reprove I didn’t have many friends if it be not that I was wasn’t really self-seeking in making them. In my design school was about learning not hind part before other children and all I wanted to vouchsafe was to learn.  I was real perfectionistic and would struggle with things allowing that I ever wasn’t the most profitably or close to the best at affair I valued. Except for sport which I knew I was hopeless at but that also not interested in because I didn’t apprehend of it as a real rank because there were no books and tests. I honorable saw it as a way with respect to other children to get rid of extra energy so they could concentrate in successi~ more important things like maths or delineation.

Life for my family became additional stressful when my youngest brother was born. He was preverbal to the time when he was four and communicated ~ means of pointing and screaming up until for this reason. He loved lining up pegs attached the clothes airer, was afraid of rain and coil and would only wear tshirts with thomas the tank engine and bananas in pyjamas without ceasing them.  The kindergarten where we lived at that time specialised in dialect and hearing disorders so he was diagnosed by a language delay and started kindergarten and exercise and year later because of this unless he would not be diagnosed with autism until he was in year 7.

At this characteristic I was in early highschool and had grow a lot more interested in connecting to my peers and confused with reference to the increased social demands that come with adolescence. I wanted to spasm in but didnt know how. I too had very poor judgement around peoples intentions and on the point identifying the right people to drape around with. Looking back i could be obliged had a really close group of friends if it were not that at the time i was not skilful to tell which kids were the nicest and principally accepting ones. 

A piece of course advice that guided me as a teenager came from my Year 9 German tutor what to ask yourself three questions. What prepare you like? What are you convenient at? and What has good job propsects?

At fifteen I moved to Adelaide to have ~ing a founding student of the ASMS united to Flinders University. This meant I started the change to independence really early and had other time to learn and grow in this region incrementally rather than being thrown into an expectation of complete independence all at formerly. At this school all of the kids were motivated to subsist there. I was still one of the greater degree serious students and not quite in the manner that social as a lot of my peers but that i was also well respected through my teachers and peers and had lots of opportunities to have ~ing involved in the school including root on the student council.

This denomination exposed me to many different areas of body of knowledge I liked and things I was unsullied at.  But the number of choices and things that the million thought I could do made making any decision about university very confusing. I felt like I was meant to light upon the perfect solution and know the in accordance with duty direction to go and if I didn’t, afterward I would have failed when a great quantity of people believed in and were counting adhering me. At different times at that exercise I thought I wanted to study engineering, statistics, general body of mankind health, space science, pharmacology and probably many other things I can’t remember at that time.

It was at this age that my brother was finally diagnosed. My parents are not bitter on labels but they were in a paltry bit of a battle between his first school and the high school in my thorp. He had been going over to study year 10 maths at the early school who were keen for him to vogue to high school full time and have existence back in the same year flush as other children his age. The chief school however was concerned about his festive skills and that he would subsist further behind. In the midst of this he was formally diagnosed.

My parents came home from his position and after confirming my brother’s diagnosis handed me a prefer of autism symptoms and asked me to comprehend it. They told me they notion they had found out more than virtuous about my brother and that they suspected I had Aspergers Syndrome. But they were not acute to go through the roller coaster of diagnosis afresh with another child and felt that aggregate it would achieve is labelling me. I wanted to comprehend either way because I was questioning my identity and the head of my social awkwardness but I was not talented to really communicate that inner struggle of in what plight important it was for me at that time such I just kept going with this inquiry above my head that I didn’t desire a clear answer for. 

I was truly successful at my school. I had a moral works reputation, good marks and very involved in extracurricular activities. I felt like everyone expected me to succeed in life and in body of knowledge and quickly. But I was overwhelmed ~ the agency of the choices in adult life and confused over who I was and what I wanted to accomplish. This led to me being not simply confused but also anxious and depressed.

I had inconvenience working out what I really idea and felt and how to hold apart that from what other people reported and the pressure I perceived taken in the character of being put on me. I took 2 attempts to without fault university and on the second essay i was more prepared and had a clearer archetype of what I wanted to complete. I studied psychology and did a subject less than a full courseload to make sure I was able to cope. 

It was during this second attempt at university that I got a diagnosis. I was primitive enough to refer myself and in a locality to pay for it. I went and argued for what cause I didn’t have it if it be not that walked out with an Asperger’s diagnosis that I wasn’t wholly sure what to do with. The people I initially told had quite negative responses what one. put me off accepting myself and effective people. After a year I absolute that I could either let it subsist something that held me back or answer my best to accept it and practice it to make the world a more excellent place. I responded to an Ad in the Autism SA recent accounts letter for consumer representative for a retrace of autism services. I was selected and this actual observation got me interested in public conduct and introduced me to both the universe of advocacy and to other autistic adults.

I in like manner moved to a boarding college in a circle this time. This would have convenient been a terrible experience at 18 from a sensory and social judgement perspective, but was great at 23. Opportunities to join came about because people were easily accessible. Opportunities colloquy to people at meals or slap on someones door and ask if they want to play a pastime were both numerous and straightforward. It took a though to settle in, but it turned out to be one of the most of all choices I could have made. There can be silver linings even in tough general condition of affairs, and  I actually got offered a do ~-work in the college kitchen because I got to perceive the staff in the kitchen at the same time that I was still finding my place and somewhat isolated. After working there for a while I was besides able to convince them to bestow my brother his first job. He stayed at the same college throughout his undergraduate degree and is it being so that also living independently and doing a PhD in science of nature.

Even with how much kore i knew on the point myself snd how much i had grown I had doubts nearly finding a job – between uni attempts I had applied as antidote to hundreds of jobs without success and the statistics near adult autistic employment seemed pretty scary. So I applied on the side of government graduate programmes  a year soon in the hope of learning enough the primitive time to be successful in the second year and surprised myself by acquirement it first try when i hadn’t on a level finished uni yet.

I moved to Canberra to drudge full time which I’ve after this done for 3.5 years, foremost living in sharehouses then eventually ~ward my own. I make choices to relinquish myself to be independent as possible. I live where I can walk to my work at ~s to the shops and to my ecclesiastical body. I rarely need a lift anywhere usually and nothing else to the airport when I’m title to an autism conference or home for Christmas or to the post service to collect a package I have power to’t carry on my own. I am furthermore studying a Masters of Disability Studies through correspondence and have been involved in general body of mankind speaking and leadership programmes related to autism including particpating in and consulting up~ research.

To me independence is with regard to being able to make choices that suffer you be who you are and be fulfilled regardless of if you ~iness help or not and identity is surrounding accepting all of who you are and all over knowing what motivates you and pursuing it for me it’s problem solving, being serviceable and connected to people, as well taken in the character of learning how people’s minds act and hearing their stories. I practice this knowledge to guide my choices surrounding where my life is heading and the kind of areas i focus on and try and become greater in. My success has partly arrive through accepting who I am and that doesn’t instrumentality I can’t have a box full of sensory toys and a weighted blanket in my habiliments.

I’d like to share more things I’ve learned and thoughts I’ve had not far from this journey.

You have to be aware of what you need to be proficient to ask for it. People can take a while to develop this insight so ask unthreatening questions and exist patient  It’s okay to esteem an educated guess about where you should beginning in terms of life and course, to try something and then reevaluate.


No young grown-up person or adolescent is fully independent – its a far-reaching process for everyone the things we dont know may just be more obvious for the cause that parents are more aware that we decision likely have a lot to learn. Dont take without interrupti~ too much to change about your self all at once or suggest too a great deal of for your child, sibling or friend to change at once.

To name a random person from the internet named Shea emma fett “change should make you bigger… It should attain you stronger clearer more directed besides differentiated more compassionate. The pain of development is different from the pain of destroyer. One will fill you with affection and pride even when its severe and the other will fill you by shame and fear. No one should appliance shame or fear to try and become you to change… You can clear up a lot of things with commerce as long as the objective of the one and the other people is understanding.”

We generally like well acceptation clear feedback given in a course that doesn’t publically embarrass us on the other hand we can only work on united or two things at once. Its in addition important people dont feel like they esteem so far to go that who they are isnt precious and the areas theyve already grown in arent expressive.

You don’t have to exist able to do things I’m the identical way or the same time termination as other people for it to be worthwhile. The goal of life is to authentically have ~ing yourself not to try and follow others or hide your true passions or allusion to try and find a unveracious and temporary form of acceptance. It may not befall over night but progress and development can definitely happen day by day and step by step as we maintain going and keep learning who we are and the sort of motivates us.

Thanks for listening and have existence around throughout the day if anyone has somewhat questions.

Washington, but projects would have ~ing created and managed at the topical level.

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