‘Autism is a slightly different way of the brain functioning. I don’t think it means that you’re really any different to anyone else, and that you have different abilities to anyone else. I think it just means your brain functions in a different way, which sometimes can be even better than people without autism…Because I think some of the greatest minds in the world are autistic…Albert Einstein, autistic, other people…’
‘So I’ve got high functioning autism. I see a lot of things that other people don’t, I’m quite perceptive, like quite often because I’m interested in cars I’ll see a number plate on a car and then if I see that car again, I’ll instantly be able to recognise that it’s the same car because of the number plate. So I think I see quite a lot of stuff that other people miss.
‘I think I’m quite good at seeing through people as well. Like if someone’s putting on a front, then I think I’m quite good at seeing through people.
‘So I was diagnosed in 2018, so very late…When I was 13, I was diagnosed and that was after struggling at school, in a mainstream school with big class sizes and no support…And then I found year 7 in school really, really difficult because my dad left in year 7 and then that made that quite difficult at school and I was stressed.
‘On the 10th of February 2019, I left my secondary school and I was homeschooled for a year and my nan homeschooled me. I went there every day and then over that period of time my mum was just wonderful trying to find school spaces for me and then she found Portfield. And then um I found out I had a space in May 2020, and then I joined here in july 2020.
‘Before I came here, I hated school so much…And then I came here and actually started enjoying being here and I wanted to come here. I get a load of support from all the staff members, and if it’s something I don’t understand or something that needs explaining, all the staff explain it to me. It’s like anything you need, they can, they can help you with.
‘I’d like to join the Royal Logistics Corps as a driver because I’m an army cadet and I’ve always been interested in the military and cars and I wanted to mix that together.
‘So when I’m 18/19, I’m going to apply for the army…I think there are some positions in the military where I think they would have to assess you, so if it’s a very high stress role in the front line or in a battle or something.
‘But if you apply for the army and you’ve got autism, they assess you and they say…tell you if you’re fit to join the army. I went down to the recruitment centre and you can do a test on the army website where you say any disabilities you have and they said I was okay to join which made me really happy.
Interviewer: Do you feel judged by society?
A lot of it’s been happening since covid and since you had to start wearing face masks. So I get the train to school every day and sometimes I’ll be wearing my lanyard and won’t have my mask one, and people have said to me, why haven’t you got a mask on? And I told them I’m autistic and they said, that’s not a reason not to wear a mask…But I think it’s quite often met with people that don’t really understand autistic people at all Interviewer: What changes would you make?
Educate people on disabilities…Because I know a lot of people that, especially my age, a lot of people that I meet, like they’ll find out I’m autistic and they’ll say oh you don’t look autistic, but I don’t understand that because no one really looks autistic…But they say oh you don’t behave autistic.
‘Yeah a lot of people assume that autism is just one thing and that everyone’s the same, but it’s not at all.
‘I think a lot of people are expecting people with severe disabilities but they don’t understand it’s just a spectrum and that some people’s functional skills are less…But yeah, I think they expect them to be like all the same…One thing – they’re not
‘One of the challenges I face is thinking about everything that I have to do in the day at once rather than taking it one step at a time and taking the day as it comes…I think that’s one of my biggest challenges. And another one is loud noises, big crowds…If’ I’m tired or something , I’ll just want to go home but I’m usually okay…But sometimes my social battery just drains out and I’ve got to go home.
‘So when it comes to working, I think a lot of people in society think that people with autism can’t have a full-on career and they can’t make anything out of their lives…But it’s not true in the slightest because I had a paper round from the age of like 12 till I was 15, and then I did some restaurant work and now I’ve worked at McDonalds for two months and I’m loving it there and all the opportunities are amazing.
‘I think a lot of people assume that they can’t make anything out of their lives…But the opposite really.’