Hello readers, I’m back again and this time it’s an interview. I shall be talking to Aspling. The idea behind today’s interview was to bring awareness to Autism. Aspling herself is Autistic and answered my questions in a bid to do just that. If you’re not Autistic and are looking to understand, here’s hoping you learn something. If you are Autistic and are looking for guidance, hopefully this can help you out too. Anyway, on with the post!
Hello there, for the readers at home could you tell us your name and a bit about yourself?
Hello, my name is Aspling, I’m 26 and I’m Autistic. I was diagnosed earlier this year as an adult at age 25.
Jumping straight into things; Could you tell us about your diagnosis, how it came about?
Basically, I’d grown up knowing I had difficulties, I knew things weren’t right. My behaviour was different, how I acted, my social anxieties. It all added up. I just had this feeling. It was only this time last year when I went forwards for a diagnosis, which happened through my doctor. It took me months to get an appointment, the first of which was talking to my mother about my childhood, everything she said made sense and connected the dots. After that I had a secondary appointment in which I completed an ADOS – a diagnostic tool for assessing Autism – in which I had to complete puzzles and answer questions, as well as read a story about frogs that could fly. After that I waited months again for a follow-up, in which I was told my scores, scores which qualified me to get my diagnosis.
I’d also like to add that I already had an interest in autism, and was involved in research and everything I’d read was how I was feeling.
After your diagnosis, obviously your life changed. Not in the sense of who you are, but your perspective of everything. Could you tell us more of the effect it had on you?
My life did change, I’d grown up feeling different and now I had a reason for that, I was able to understand why I have/had all the difficulties I do. The diagnosis came as such a relief for me, it backed up my feelings. Since the diagnosis I’ve come to be proud of who I am, I’ve made lifelong friends and I’ve become a better person, trying to bring awareness to the world.
How did it affect your Mental Health?
Knowing I had a problem, knowing something was wrong did play with my mental health. I had depression anyway and this sort of added too it, thinking my mind was faulty.
Whilst all that is great for you, others aren’t so lucky. Could you tell us how the effect can be on other people on the spectrum?
Some people aren’t diagnosed, so don’t receive any support. Female symptomatology is only really coming to light, so for females getting that statement is even harder. Some with a diagnosis also find it hard, they don’t want to be different, they can find it hard to come to terms with the diagnosis, they don’t really want to be labelled. We live in a world full of judgement and it can be hard, but it’s all embracing it.
It has been debated for quite some time as to what causes Autism, including recently where BBC News proceeded to claim Epilepsy medication is a cause. Could you talk to us about that? Share some insight as to what may or may not cause Autism?
There’s no real basis, or cause, it’s been extensively researched though. Some believed you are born with it, but there has been genetic speculation too. The medication thing is very unclear, there are risks with all medication, but I’m not a professional I don’t know the details behind it.
What about all the intentionally false claims? The portrayal of Autism in the media seems to give the wrong impression to some. What are your personal thoughts on this, how does it affect the community?
The media always blow things out of proportion and only tell/show viewer the worst case scenario, only show them the facts that’ll cause an uproar. Autism is getting more media portrayal, which is fantastic, it’s what we need as a community, we need people to realise we’re just human, like everyone else. We need to stop the ignorance.
That leads me to my next question; For the readers at home, could you explain what #DoILookAutisticYet is?
I love being asked about this! It’s a new Instagram hashtag which was created by a good friend of mine Hannah. All the time we get people making comments such as “oh you don’t look autistic”. Autism isn’t about how you look, so comments like that Cause such a negative impact. Not everyone is the same, we don’t all fit into the same little box, everyone is unique. The tag is to raise awareness of this, showing the world who we are doesn’t fit a label.
Speaking of labels; You are Autistic VS you have Autism?
This is another tricky one and it depends on each person as an individual. Personally I think of myself as autistic, not a person with Autism. My Autism doesn’t define who I am, even though I am living with it. It’s always good to check with people though as everyone is different.
Can you tell us a bit about the Autistic community? What is it like, are there any places to socialise for anyone who feels isolated? Is there anyone in the community you look up to?
The autistic community as a whole is great, especially online. I’m part of a smaller fantastic group on Facebook called “Do I Look Autistic Yet?” and the group to me is like a family. Some of the bigger groups lose sight of the smaller things, the values, the members, but this group is brilliant and extremely supportive. In my area there is no where I can go, which is a shame, I’m not sure about other regions in the UK either. Plus, there’s not much support for adults. All the resources are geared towards children and families.
I look up to Hannah, who is the founder of the hashtag movement, a friend and also Autistic, and Daniel M Jones, who also has Autism and runs a YouTube channel called The Aspie World.
Let’s say the government comes to you and says, “Aspling, you have the power to do whatever you want for the Autistic community” what would you do and why?
I’d create more resources for adults. Parents find it so hard when they find out their child is autistic, but as adults we feel it ourselves, we experience the pain, the relief, the whole overload. I’d create support groups in accessible areas, online support, meet ups for groups. I’d spread awareness.
Have you encountered any incidents with others not understanding Autism? How was it handled?
Actually, I have. I’ve had a negative experience when I was out with a fellow Aspie. We went to the cinema to see a 15 rated film, but she didn’t have any forms of ID – which was fine, that wasn’t the issue. The issue was the way we were treated. We were clearly in distress, both crying whilst friends parents spoke to the manager. The manager who acted in a disgusting manner. I filed a complaint and I told them it was unacceptable, to which I was told staff would undergo more training, if that happens great, but I doubt anything will change.
How would you prevent things like this going forward? What would you like to see happen both in that workplace and others?
I’d demand staff training, Autism is an invisible disability, girls mask it incredibly well so you’d never even notice, but just being made aware of it would make a huge difference.
Another thing I wanted to ask was about charities? What charities exist for Autism? How can others help?
This is tough, the National Autistic Society is great but they’re such a large organisation. One close to my heart is Autism Support UK, who run an ABA Saturday school, and although I don’t agree with all the ABA principles, the work they do with the children is life changing. I’d do research though into different support charities, some are more genuine than others, it’s about finding one that suits you.
For anyone who isn’t Autistic and doesn’t understand but wants to learn, what message would you give them?
Wanting to learn is the first step, personally I’d ask someone who is Autistic, because a lot of the information out there doesn’t apply to every individual. So talk to people, get a background and take it from there.
Lastly what message would you give to any fellow Aspie, who wants to be understood or needs direction?
Talk to someone, I’ve been through and so I understand. Speak to a loved one, a GP, research. There is help out there for you, you are not alone!
So that was my interview with Asplingz. Did you learn something? Well why not share this around so others can learn too! Raise awareness and help out the Autistic community today.