Oliver is a 15 year old student at Portfield School with an autism diagnosis, dyspraxia and hypermobility.
Discussing autism, he says, ‘Autism is something that we’re born with. We can’t catch it, it’s not contagious. It’s something we’re born with…But there are multiple types, aren’t there? There’s some out there that make your speaking a bit off, or there’s some like me who are still able but still have autism.’
He was first tested for autism around the ages of 6-8, and then it took two years to receive his autism diagnosis. While he was happy to finally have answers, he found the long wait frustrating, ‘I was like are you kidding me? Two years? I don’t know how long it takes for someone to be diagnosed with autism, but yeah it seems like a long time.’
Following his diagnosis, life didn’t change much – it was normal for him, his kind of normal. Nothing changed and his family didn’t think of him any differently, ‘they just thought of me as Oliver.’
In terms of challenges, Oliver discusses his hypermobility and dyspraxia, ‘My muscles, I just used to be up in my room all the time, so it was terrible for me having hyper mobility…So good thing I came to this school because there’s a lot of walking with me.’
Answering what makes him unique, he said, ‘I am one in 8 billion…A genetic mutation actually – we still know nothing about that.’
While he agrees that a lot of people know that being autistic is okay, he does acknowledge some others who he considers to be ‘flat out stupid’.
He says, ‘So the reason why I think they’re stupid is because they’re like oh vaccines cause autism and all that, and apparently bleach is a way to get rid of autism…they need to go to school again, take science lessons, take many, many science lessons…’
In his free time, he enjoys watching a lot of YouTube, a bit of gaming, and he likes to sleep.
Discussing his future aspirations, he wants to open a reptile shop and mainly handle snakes. He recalls once having an encounter with a grass snake at his grandparents’ place – it was his first encounter with a live snake and he was terrified. Regardless, he says, ‘I just like snakes, I don’t know what it is.’
He believes that if you try hard enough, there’s a big chance you could achieve your goals in life. If you fail, try again and learn from your mistakes – everyone has a chance to follow their dream. While it can be more of a challenge for some autistic people, they can still achieve their goals and overcome any hurdles.