As we get older, time seems to go by quickly, this is scientifically proven. Therefore for this blog, I’m going to take you on a little journey, a journey of my past to my present and the positive impact finding AP Cymru and finding out about more and more Autism Advocates through the internet has had for me.
Skip back two years. It’s April 2018, a time I can pinpoint as one of my dark times. I was 21 years old, and after not having any friends to celebrate my birthday with, whilst watching my peers through social media go to parties I felt like I had to make a change. I vowed to myself that this milestone in my life was to stop hiding, drop my mask and go in search of what I needed. Human connections, but with humans that get me. The journey wasn’t smooth, there were bumps in the road, diversions, road blocks – I felt lonely, alienated, that it was impossible to relate to the world, that there was no way forward. I attempted several college courses and career choices and each time I began to not cope I thought what’s the point, I’m never going to get it. I remember thinking I’m not going to give up as there’s so many milestones I’m yet to experience, finding a voluntary position that I’m passionate about was on that list.
What I know now is that when I felt like I wanted to disappear, all I really wanted was to be found.
Bringing it back to today. Since volunteering for AP I have learnt so much. When I was starting to get to know the team and they asked questions about how my autism presents itself and they nodded in agreement, it felt like a weight I’d been carrying on my shoulders for years had been lifted. They were the people who knew what to say when I needed support, who gave me a new outlook on life, that’s why I call it my lifeline.
They have taught me that despite my sensory and emotional sensitivities I am strong. They have helped me to avoid avoidance, which is something I’ve been great at over the years, but they push me to keep achieving, they haven’t given up on me. They’ve taught me to focus on my strengths such as being bright, remembering random facts, being organised, that I’m hyper empathetic and extremely caring despite the myths. One thing that will stick with me forever that they told me is yes I’m autistic, and that is an important part of my identity, but first and foremost I am Cerys. They are helping me to find the Cerys beneath the chameleon disguise I’ve been using for years. Finding my tribe so close to home has saved my life.
Forming an instagram account, sharing my stories and ‘spectrum truths’ as I call them or my ‘musings of a masker’ I have found people from all over the world who relate to the way I experience the world. Something that I never thought was possible, especially during my adolescence. Finding a community I can relate to and who get it has changed my life forever.
This is why for me autism awareness and acceptance is a must. Not just for one day, but everyday. The spectrum is so diverse and every autistic person deserves recognition. Particularly, as we are all social isolating at the moment, it’s given me more time to think. I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling isolated and it’s not been nice. However, as the years pass by more and more advocates are emerging, voices of change. Inclusion is imperative for all humans. Just because I’m autistic, doesn’t mean that I’m incapable or not wanting to participate in the world.
Today, even though I’m still isolated at home, I now have a whole new world to celebrate being my authentic autistic self with.