This Disability History Month Ross Punton, chair of our Autism Staff Network gives us an insight into Autism including going to school, growing up, work and family life.
“It isn’t easy for me to summarise what my Autism means to me. As many of you know who read my blogs short and sweet is not my skill.
My Autism has always just been a part of me.
I was diagnosed at the age of four and a half and whilst I’ve had many tests over the years I realise now how lucky I was to get that early diagnosis. I’ve met so many people over the years who got their diagnosis much later on in life.
I was able to get support from a young age. I remember seeing a person at school every week who showed me cards with pictures on and being asked things like what is this person feeling etc. and I remember being annoyed. It actually taught me a lot about how to process new information.
Funny I thought it was daft at the time and only now do I see the point.
It was harder as I got older. Many people I knew started to have different interests. I did not. I found it hard for years to socialise. I also had very skewed ideas of what friendship should be thanks to sitcoms.
It was only in my twenties I really started going out independently.
It’s was a wake up call for me. It sounds so daft to say but I realised then not everyone is nice. Nothing specific. Random rude people. I remember being on a bus alone for the first time. I have dyspraxia as well so sometimes I don’t have natural reflexes. I stumbled when the bus moved suddenly as I wasn’t used to it. Another time I was in a shop I had spent about £2.80 and paid with a £5 the shop keeper gave me £2.20 and said that’s 5. I said no it £2.20. He thought I was disputing my change. I didn’t get why he was so adamant it was 5. It was not a £5 it had been. So as you can see I often saw things differently.
Even now I still do at times. I have a few more social skills now I’m older. Getting my job helped. It gave me a real sense of purpose. So do my hobbies; my running club and my creative writing projects. It still manifests in many ways and I worry a lot. I often over think little relatively unimportant things. This can sometimes affect my concentration at work and makes it hard to disengage. The last year was especially hard as I was alone more due to the Covid pandemic. I try very hard now to disengage. To do other things. To not let one thing occupy all my time. This applies to work and personal life. It’s not always easy but it something I’m trying to do.
Another thing about me I find it hard to control my emotions at times both positive and negative. I have to try very consciously to not always react on my first impulse when annoyed. Often after some reflection my emotions calm and I am able to re-evaluate things.
I have come to accept I will always be someone who overthinks a little. That’s okay.
I can manage it. I’m aware of it. The mistake I made was when I was younger trying to make myself change. This is me. I am not perfect. But then who is? Remember what I said about the bus and shop? There will undoubtedly be more miscommunications in my life. People make many assumptions not just about Autism but about all disabilities: ‘You can’t do that.’ Or ‘You should do that’
I once had someone say to me at a job fair ‘You wouldn’t understand’ after I had just met him and mentioned my Autism.
It’s stuff like that which makes people not want to disclose things.
Please don’t make assumptions about people. Remember we are all unique. Thank you for reading.”