My name is Ryan, I’m a 22 year old who lives in Northern Ireland, and I am Autistic. I was diagnosed with Autism when I was 13, and as I come to the 10th year of my diagnosis, I have decided to speak about the experience of being an Autistic adult in Northern Ireland. I’ll be talking about support services, finding employment, and also campaigning for improved support and services for adults on the Autistic Spectrum, as well as highlighting the failings of our health service.
I want people to read this blog, and I want them to take away from it, just how badly we, as a society, have failed to meet the needs of adults on the Autistic Spectrum. However, and this is a key point, I don’t want it to be about apportioning blame. I want it to be about bringing in change, something I and many others feel is badly, badly needed.
I want our politicians to read this, and I want them to sit up and take notice. I am not going to use this blog to apportion blame as to who is responsible for the current state our Health Service is in. I want to appeal to our local politicians, our MLA’s and MP’s, to recognise that, in your hands you have the ability to change this, to improve this system. I am appealing to you, in your positions as our elected representatives, that this is a situation that has been ignored for too long. This issue affects every constituency, every town, every city in Northern Ireland. One in five Autistic adults are in full-time employment.
For every person like me, with a job, there are four others who are unemployed. Tell me, if any other demographic on this country had just a 1 in 5 employment rate, would this be tolerated? Would this issue be recognised, and immediate action taken to remedy the situation?
I want to keep this first post short, so I will finish with this. To the people that read this, who think “oh that is horrible”, please, act on it. Ask your local representatives, “what are you doing to address this?”,
To our elected representatives who wish to help, engage with us. Ask Autistic adults what they want from the system, what they need from the system in the way of support and access to services. We have been ignored and sidelined for too long, and I can’t stand by and watch it anymore. I got lucky with my situation. It should not be a roll of the dice that decides the fate of anyone’s future. Especially when we hold the power to change it.