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Me, My Autistic Self and I

This week is such a special week for me as it is World Autism Acceptance Week. It is so important to me that I celebrate what makes me unique, after all, this wasn’t always the case for me having gone undiagnosed for many years and flying under the radar. So I am here, reminding you to celebrate yourselves and anyone who you know is autistic!

Hey! Meg, your Academic Experience Officer here. This week is such a special week for me as it is World Autism Acceptance Week. It is so important to me that I celebrate what makes me unique, after all, this wasn’t always the case for me having gone undiagnosed for many years and flying under the radar. So I am here, reminding you to celebrate yourselves and anyone who you know is autistic!

As a leader at the Students' Union, I am centred, authentic and accountable. 3 traits that my autism and selective mutism gave me, but for many years I felt stupid, misunderstood, and like I didn’t belong due to my issues with processing information and communicating. My brain kept telling me that I am not ok which can be scary at times. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be representing all Leeds Beckett Students in their academic and course based interests; be a trustee both at the Union and at the Long Game (an autistic charity aimed at empowering autistic young people and graduates to aim higher); alongside holding 2 places on disabled and autistic youth councils showcasing my personal experiences and supporting others; I would have never believed you. Remember, anything is possible!

I am here to share my story, but most importantly to say that you can achieve your dreams and be a leader. All you need is hard work, determination, and courage! The rest comes with time and support. I was delayed in speech, struggled with understanding what people are saying to me and I still get extremely overwhelmed, but I have the support of incredible individuals who go above and beyond to support me, and I have started to make friends and connections (something I struggle to do). Finally, I truly believe that I am a strong leader and good at my job. I just require help to thrive!

Here are a few things that help me:

1. Fidgets – These help me to process information, calm me down and allow me to feel part of events and meetings

2. Chats with people who support me – Due to my challenges, I am supported by a range of key people who support me in a variety of different ways. This helps me to calm down, empty my brain and get the support that I need to achieve my goals. I am super grateful for this!

3. Using Analogies – As I often go mute and have challenges, I communicate using analogies and metaphors. Quite a weird one, but it really helps people understand what I am trying to say. My favourites ones include that I feel that I am in Madame Tussauds; my brain feels like mixed up candy jars; and that I am stuck in a submarine.

Thank you for reading my story, and remember, I am always here to support you. if you would like to chat more, drop me an email here m.darroch@leedsbeckett.ac.uk. I hope you learnt something!

Meg x
Academic Experience Officer

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