Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2024

March 22nd, 2024

This Neurodiversity Celebration Week we’ve been speaking to our young people about what is means to be autistic and why this week is so important.

Sammy, aged 23, wants to educate people on what neurodiversity can mean to different people. 

What’s a misconception about being autistic that frustrates you?

“I think society expects all autistic people to be super geniuses. When in reality I’d actually like a regular job and a regular life – I don’t want some complicated degree – I don’t want to be a genius”

“Sometimes I feel like I’m not being autistic enough. For example, sometimes I’ll finish my day and think – oh may maybe I wasn’t autistic enough today?”

Can you tell if someone is autistic?

“Autistic people mask a lot of the time. People automatically assume that we shouldn’t be masking, but sometimes we have no choice. The issue around masking lies with society – not with autistic people.”

Is there anything you like about being autistic?

“If you’re already stepping outside of what is expected of you it’s easier to question other parts of your identity.”

What’s something you wish people knew about being autistic?

“I wish people knew that autism affects everyone differently. There’s no one size fits all. People sometimes make autistic people try things that ‘should work’, and then get frustrated at them when they don’t.”

“You change all the time along with your autism. It’s harmful to assume that I’m the same as I was when I was a child and still developing. I’m happy to try things that didn’t work previously because I’m constantly changing and growing and so are my opinions.”

“It’s better to try and fail lots of different approaches than to not try at all. And a lot of autistic people are happy to try.”

What would you say to someone who is struggling with being autistic?

“I used to wonder why other autistic People seemed easier to help than me. I didn’t know that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know that I wasn’t doing the wrong thing, other people just didn’t know how to support me yet.”

“I used to be afraid to ask for alternative ways to do things. But if something isn’t helping or working, it’s always beneficial to speak up. You wouldn’t force someone who has a wheelchair to take the stairs. You wouldn’t ask them to just get better at walking- you would provide an alternative option”

What is something you have achieved that you didn’t think was possible?

“I think it’s so important to celebrate the little wins. What is insignificant to anyone else can be massive to others- I had to change my brand of toothpaste recently, and I was fine!”

A member of GMYN’s Youth Autism Panel says: “You can’t do autism wrong!

“No two people are the same – we have different strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, experiences, and needs. Autistic people share the same incredible diversity that is shared across the whole population, and to see these differences and celebrate them creates a better, more inclusive society for us all.”

For more information about the young people we support, please see here.

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