chronicle how I felt throughout that period, from the
reactions to my mothers death, and the burglary the
year after that which really presaged a long period of
depression and hopelessness from which I have since built
my life back up again.
When I received my diagnosis I was at a really low point,
and whilst being relieved I was simultaneously
disappointed in myself and took on board the limitations
of AS as a disability rather literally in terms of how
that impacted on the career I wanted to cut out for
myself as a photographer and journalist.
Building up my qualifications at Hereward College was the best thing
for me, for when I graduated with distinctions that was a
vindication that my life was worth something and my
creative talents were not a myth of my own making.
One thing follows on another and one cannot get quickly
to ones destination without being in the right place to
My voluntary work with my mother, which I had seen as
counting for naught when I went looking for work in the
real world, has been the basis of my activity in the National Autistic
Society. For when I went to my first AGM of that
organisation and asked the question about what was in it
for me, and what role was there for autistic people in
governance I did not realise that I would answer my own
question by becoming first a councillor and then Board
member with a very important role to play in moving the NAS into the next
It was the combination of my previous experience in the
community sector, and the connections I had made on the
Internet that allowed me to be first nominated and then
My academic courses did more for me too, than gain
qualifications, as they gave me back my confidence, and
allowed me to participate in a more social world. Not
only that I made with Paul Smith the Outside In Video, that continues to
sell and has had some impact I hope on the understanding
of our perspective.
It is true I want to go further academically, to higher
degrees, but obstacles of finance still stand in the way.
When I started the Birmingham
University web based autism course, I guess I had more
than just the objective of gaining the qualification, I
wanted to prove that a person on the autistic spectrum
was just as capable of doing such a course, and more so
of influencing the future of that course itself,
something I have done, being as Outside In is
to be integrated into the course as well as my having
been asked to write course materials. A small start on
what I want to take a lot further in future.
Likewise this year has been the year of Autscape, where I have been
able to make a different kind of presentation to the
usual self-narrating zoo exhibit kind, and integrate it
with my interests in media and video. More shall come of
this for I will be producing a video based on what I said
there, and the text of it is going on to be a paper at an
on line conference.
Further than that the NAS is slowly responding the fact
that autistic people have had practically no input into
their international big events, and I have been asked to
chair a session this September albeit of the self
narrating zoo kind, but I am sure I can make it more than
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this year when so much is
happening has been my election to the fellowship of the RSA.
This was a complete surprise when I received an
invitation to submit myself for election. I though to
myself am I really the calibre of person who has made a
sufficient impact either in the community or world of
enterprise to bear those letters after my name?
Well I guess the conclusion must be that I am, from my
busy period in a variety of organisations in Coventry and
then after that in RADAR and now the NAS.
Seven times seven, and more to come I hope, so that I can
show that there is more to life than autism alone and
more to autism than no life.
I got where I am because I worked at it, but I did not
get here by abandoning my responsibilities to my mission,
to create a better world for all people disadvantaged by
what the world labels as disability.