What I wish people knew about autism | Autistic voice

26 Aug 22
Two people sitting in chairs in front of camera, person behind the camera filming

What I wish people knew about autism | Autistic voice

The Autistic Young Experts were asked to consider 'what I wish people knew about autism'. We asked Jessica, to share their experiences...

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We asked our Autistic Young Experts (AYE) Panel for a contribution to our blog, and we are happy to share this post by Jessica. The Autistic Young Experts Panel has been created in partnership with another not-for-profit charity, Ambitious about Autism, who advocate for autistic young people and champion their rights and create opportunities. Our panel members support the development of our content by sharing their experiences, helping us to ensure that the autistic voice is at the centre of everything we do. During a recent face-to-face meet, the panel members were planning a YouTube channel that shares autistic experiences. Jessica has taken the time to explain her participation…

A bit about Jessica...

Hello! My name is Jessica, I am 23 years old, and I was diagnosed with autism when I was 15.

I am part of the Ambitious About Autism’s Youth Network, where I enjoy attending their weekly Peer Support sessions, as well as the Autism Education Trust’s Young Experts Panel where I hope I can make those in education more autism aware.

My interests are the healthcare sciences, and animal rights/welfare. I also enjoy reading Young Adult Fiction; getting involved in extracurricular activities and meeting new people.

Joining the panel and the first in-person meeting

Welcome to my blog post about my first in-person Autism Education Trust (AET) meeting on Saturday 9th July at The Studio Birmingham.

I joined the AET, because I don’t want a continuation of autistic Children and Young People (CYP) going without support and understanding from their places of education.

Additionally, I would like to increase my confidence in public speaking to help people understand the strengths autistic CYP have, as well as our difficulties. I saw the AET as the prefect opportunity to achieve all these things. I am very excited for getting involved in their projects!

The day of the AET meeting started with a train ride from Bolton to Birmingham New Street. The staff from Ambitious About Autism were helpful in giving us the directions to the venue and ensuring it was easily accessible from the train station – it was just 5 minutes’ walk away!

The day started with an Icebreakers session so we could get to know each other.

I introduced myself by saying I can play the clarinet; I have completed a bioscience degree and I have an interest in animal rights and welfare. It was interesting hearing from the other panel members, with some studying at university and others in employment. Interests included autism education, Lego, sports, and foreign languages – we all had very diverse interests!

After the introduction, a previous member of the panel, Sam presented some new AET logo ideas which we all discussed together. Positive feedback and suggestions for additions and changes were noted. When Sam presented new ideas at our next virtual AET meeting at the end of that month, I thought were amazing and I will be thrilled to see the final logo when this is finished.

Two people standing up, talking whilst looking at piece of paper, smiling and chatting

What I Wish People Knew About Autism video

The next, and most exciting part of our meeting was making the YouTube videos!

There was a variety of topics which we could sign-up to, but I chose The Positives of Autism, and Things I Wish People Would Know About Autism! I had previously written down ideas for discussion in the videos and it was lovely to share our ideas and experiences with the other panel members.

My favourite point in the Positives About Autism video is that I am a very loyal friend to others, and I really care about being a good friend. Even people who I may not know overly well, I am always happy to help them, and not just people who I know much better.

I sometimes find neurotypical people will only help-out their friends or only help people they don’t know if there is “something in it for them”. Having autism feels like I have less bias towards others, and I have a greater desire to help others compared to those without autism. I have more of a helpful and positive attitude.

During the What I Wish People Knew About Autism video, one of my points is about how I may sometimes come across in certain situations may be misinterpreted. An example would be if I am stood by myself and not really speaking to anyone in a room full of people. Some people may think I am anti-social, uninterested and don’t want friends. In fact, that is far from the truth!

I usually feel overwhelmed in these situations or sometimes confused about how to interact socially in a group, as I struggle to interpret non-verbal, subtle communication – so I cannot always tell if I am annoying someone. It may come across as odd when I occasionally say to someone, “I hope I haven’t been annoying” after a conversation. I say this because I know I can sometimes give people a lot of information on topics I feel strongly/interested about and I care about the other person and don’t want to feel I am boring them. Whilst at the same time, I have a lot to say and share with people!

Being a part of the panel

I feel privileged to be part of such an amazing initiative to improve the understanding of autism in schools, with the aim to make education more inclusive for CYP with autism.

I feel confident that showing the YouTube videos to people in education, policy and other CYP will improve acceptance of autism. I am hopeful that in the future, being able to access the right support will become easier and the metaphorical “gold standard” in education.

In the future, I would love to see schools significantly making improvements to support those with autism who may be more academically able and independent, and not just those with an EHCP and/or learning disability.

The Autistic Young Experts Panel

You can find out more about the Autistic Young Experts Panel on our website.

Interested in these videos? Keep an eye on our website and social media channels to find out more about the AYE Panel YouTube account.