Robert is a facilities administrator who has worked at Autism Unlimited for the past 8 and a half years.
He was diagnosed with autism as a teenager. He described anything before that as ‘foggy’, and once things were finally explained, it was as if the fog lifted and everything became clearer. Although there were still challenges, there was more help and support to manage those challenges.
His autism is a very personal thing – and different to other people’s autism. He can come across very differently to someone else who is autistic, reiterating how each autistic person is as individual as the next person. ‘My autism, really, it doesn’t define who I am. It’s a part of me, but it doesn’t define who I am, really. Yes, there are day to day things that I see differently to other people…But in the whole, this is, you know, this is Robert here, not Robert with autism.’
Each day is different – one morning, it may look as if he’s working, but in his head he is playing trains or Lego. Some days he can be all serious and work like, whereas other days he can be Sheldon Cooper-esque. On misconceptions, he discusses how people often say autistic people can’t do certain tasks because they are autistic, when in fact it is different for every person. Robert has proven this many times over, especially with learning to drive.
‘They said, oh you wouldn’t be able to drive a manual car, you can only drive automatics…I drive a manual car.’
Model railways and railways as a whole are a huge part of his life. He holds a lot of knowledge on model railways, and his dream job would be a model maker at the miniature wonderland in Hamburg, or alternatively, working with the Lego group.
Autism Unlimited has supported him for the past 8 and a half years in a positive way, saying, ‘I can’t fault it…it is unlimited. The possibilities are unlimited with everything. There’s no ‘oh no you can’t do that’, it’s ‘how can we get you to where you want to be in five years’ time.’
The biggest change he wants to see for autistic people, across the country and worldwide, is more recognition that they can do more than what is perceived of them. He wants to see autistic people to be taken more seriously in other workplaces and beyond.
‘There’s lots of hidden talent out there that could be used to its full potential with the right people behind them and the right support.’
Instead of assuming all autistic people can’t do certain tasks, they need to be given the opportunity to show what they can do.
‘This is me, this is what I can do, just let me show you that I can do it.’