8 December 2021

Autism and me: finding my voice

For Disability History Month and its theme of hidden impairments, Tony blogs about the impact his unseen autism has had throughout his life.

I knew I was different, but I was not effectively diagnosed on the spectrum until I was an adult. I was on many occasions silenced as a child. I talk a lot – and usually need more words than many to get my point across. Turn taking in conversation is difficult for me so quite often I would remain quiet rather than appear pushy, rude or stupid.

I interpret literally – therefore I need to speak, think, and write literally. In all situations I tend and need to use more words.

It didn’t matter too much when I was young, but I see now that life wasn’t and isn’t fair! I shut up.

This all meant that I was often silent when I really, really wanted to say something. And often I would say stuff when a silence may have been better.

I felt dumb. Perhaps I was dumb! I was silenced into dumbness, and to some extent I was doing this to myself.

Fast forward to today. I am an adult and I have found and used my voice, when I want, where I want. And I am in control.

I own my voice now: I am often asked to talk to others using a variety of media. I coach coaches, and I do this by speaking to them and sharing good practice.

Just this week I was asked to produce a short video extolling the benefits of good customer service to go on social media. I found the words, I used the words, I amplified the words, I animated the words, I have long since found my voice – and I am using it!

My autism isn’t seen, it isn’t hidden but it is heard: I own it, I vocalise it and I am proud of it.

Did you know – The 1970 Social Model of Disability sets out that disabled people should be provided with access to support, equipment, and tools to enable them to live full lives.

This needs to provide for those with mental health disabilities as fully as it does for those with physical health disabilities. The support could be something as simple as allowing a few more words and a bit more time.

If you need help and support at work, contact your local PCS rep.