I am autistic and have 9 other disabilities. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 11. I have worked in the field of autism for the last 15 years. I began aged 17 because I wanted to teach teachers about autism so they could understand that I was not trying to bring bullying on myself and needed help understanding non-autistic people.
Over the last 15 years I have become deeply passionate about helping people get a better understanding of autism. Early on in my career I worked as a mentor for autistic young people. I was fascinated by the varying experiences people had, but also the almost universal need to be listened to in a way that is meaningful to the person communicating was a big drive for me. I have written 2 books, the first came out in 2013 when I gave up mentoring (as I was no longer to offer people consistent time and date appointments as I was training and speaking internationally).
The first book is called “The Independent Woman’s Handbook for Super Safe living on the Autistic Spectrum”. The eBook was a result of research I did into autistic women’s safety. I am a research associate at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at University College London (UCL). This gives me access to an ethics board. Before any big project I like to do a online survey which compares non autistic and autistic experiences so that I can understand the wide range of experiences and make sure that any outcome fills in the gaps. I also make sure my sample size is at least 100 people in each group.
I formed a group of neurotypical (non-autistic) and autistic people to explore the issues raised within the results of the survey and developed strategies (or credited others who had created strategies) that would help people overcome issues with safety. The book has been sold across the world. The second book was a result of research into periods. “The Autism Friendly Guide to periods” sold over 1000 copies world-wide in the first few months of release. This research was again started by a survey. Of 100 autistic people and 100 non autistic people and involved medical professionals and practitioners.
I have also done projects that resulted in academic papers and/or talks. Topics have included stimming, meltdowns and self-employment. I am a National Autistic Society Ambassador and have won awards for my work. I regularly speak abroad in the USA, Australia and Russia. I deliver training for a wide range of clients including schools teachers ,school assemblies, parent groups, universities and local authorities.
In this presentation I will be sharing what I’ve learnt from the autistic community through my surveys on key topics that address aspects of lived realities which I bring into dialogue with my own experiences. These topics need more discussion and acknowledgement as important features of independent living for autistic people. They include practical aspects such as (1) safety amongst people who identify as autistic and (2) self-employment; they also include sensory and felt experience such as (3) the role of stimming and (4) dealing with periods as autistic adolescents. These topics are important factors to considering what we can do to support a better and more inclusive world for Autistic people.