As a mother of a child on the Autism spectrum, I have spent many hours trying to learn and understand how to be able to best support my son and help him thrive.
The hardest bit along our journey has been the unknown. Will he make friends? Will he get through school? Will he be able to live on his own? Will he be able to get a job? For a while, these questions were something that we needed to find answers to – how were we going to get him ready for all of these things?
But, taking a step back, we soon realised that it isn’t for us to mould him and make him fit in, it is for us to celebrate his strengths and encourage the rest of society to embrace him for the amazing boy that he is.
He could read fluently before his fourth birthday, his memory is unbelievable, he takes in facts like a sponge, he is besotted with vehicles and how they work and his passion for subjects he really cares about is blindingly obvious! As his Mum, I believe there is no career that he couldn’t smash!
This Neurodiversity Celebration Week, I am 100% behind the purpose of this campaign; “to help the world understand, value and celebrate the talents of neurodiverse minds.”
I feel like I am in a good place as his Mum right now. However, I wouldn’t be standing so tall, proud and strong without some amazing support, advice and love over the years. Personally from family and friends as well as some outstanding teachers, speech therapists and professionals.
But working for Shaw Trust has truly opened my eyes to see how the world is slowly adapting. I can see first hand the impact of supported internships, the employers who are embracing and adjusting to support and employ neurodiverse and disabled people and I get to read success stories that could make my heart burst.
My Shaw Trust colleagues are incredible! I have been welcomed into the Neurodiversity Peer Support Group with open arms and feel privileged to hear their lived experiences and get so much advice and support from people. Knowing you aren’t alone is what makes bad days good again.
Finally, being able to work on the Disability Power 100 for the second year is a dream! These incredible people year on year who campaign tirelessly for equality, awareness and acceptance gain recognition that they deserve. It is these people who are paving the way to make the world a better place for generations to come, including my son. A huge wave of gratitude flows over me each time I read a bio or even speak to the person themselves. I will always remember an email conversation with an autistic influencer about his lived experience and supportive, optimistic words. It wouldn’t have taken him long to type, but it has stayed with me for over two years now and is extremely appreciated!
So, this Neurodiversity Celebration Week, please help us challenge stereotypes and misconceptions, create more inclusive cultures and empower every single person around us.
Together we can change the narrative.