What Autism means to me; by Stephen Heatley

This is the first guest contribution to our Blog, by Stephen Heatley. 

I have never done one these before so here goes…

I was diagnosed ASD with severe social anciety disorder and ADD. I have two kids with ASD and I have fought Education Authority’s for their equal right to education.

I have people ask me what is ASD and I tell them I am. I promote the positives of being autistic but live with the negatives everyday. I worry how my children will cope with work and their lives as they get older. I find it amazing that businesses don’t seem to have a policy to protect and support ASD workers. I find that a lot of pratices in the workplace are not fit for purpose and only add unwanted anxiety and pressure to people like myself. I envision a policy put in place to help showcase that we all have a part to play and that different is not less. That, with minimal changes, workplaces can be transformed to encourage people to speak about Autism and learn about it. Not just accept the stereotypical view of the condition. I tell people with great pride that I am autistic and that I have a family and job. I am autistic, but that does not define me, nor would i wish to change it. I help a lot of people get the right support for their children and themselves. I help them, through my own story, to see that their child is not defined by this, that they can soar to great hights with the right help and support. I want to change how the world views ASD and how it evolves to accept everyone and realises that the box is gone. It’s time to look outside the box and be creative.

Life on the spectrum can be hard but so can life not on the spectrum. Its about promoting the positives and not focusing on the negatives. Together we can all do great things.