This Autism Acceptance Week, as well as celebrating the week with our Open Day at Roebuck Enterprises centre in Hastings and sharing autism acceptance tips we will be posting stories from the people we support, hearing what life is like from their perspective and their views on increasing awareness and acceptance of autism in our society. 

Today, we start by hearing from Chase, 25, who has been supported by Aspens outreach support for the past six years and currently attends our City and Guilds Employment sessions. 

Chase describes themself as either neurodivergent or autistic, dyspraxic, ADHD and GAD (generalised anxiety disorder). Here Chase tell us about their experience of being autistic, what brings them joy as well as the changes they feel need to be made to increase awareness and acceptance of autism. Chase has also used their fantastic creative skills to design this flyer to celebrate Autism Acceptance Week, which includes a poem they have written. 

“Since 2017 I have been supported mostly by the Aspens’ outreach team which has enriched my life in such a way that I am becoming more and more independent and I'm now able to do things such as cook healthy meals daily, budget for food and I am also beginning to improve at socializing with trusted people. This has helped me to overcome a number of mental obstacles which means that my mental health has subsequently improved. 

Over the past few months I have been participating in the City and Guilds Employability course with Aspens, and I hope to be able to gain the needed grades and knowledge which will help me to get into the field(s) of work that I feel like I would do well in. 

In 2002 I was diagnosed with autism. In preschool I tended to play alone or alongside other children, I have few memories from this time beyond constantly playing with one particular toy. At this time, I was struggling to communicate with the other children, however, I managed to communicate with adults in a limited way. 

At this time, I would have frequent tantrums or meltdowns at home and these extended well beyond the time that most other children would've grown out of this. 

I struggled with behavioural problems during my primary school years due to difficulty with socializing with others, understanding work and struggling with concentration as well as struggling to understand instructions.

As an adult autism causes me to have problems with temperature sensitivity, limited eye contact, difficulties with task switching rapidly, need of a regular and undisrupted routine, repetition, social communication and interaction problems, repetitive stims and self-isolation from group activities that a neurotypical adult would regularly take part in. I also have a variety of food sensitivities and I struggle with sudden changes such as meal plan changes or daily changes like getting unwell, or day trips changing with limited warning.  

Being autistic has heightened my likability of a variety of things from shows, movies and animals, to fandoms, bizarre happenings and certain activities. I see the world so vividly in colour and tend to pick up on small details that wouldn't generally be noticed by others, such as a word being slightly out of line in advertisements or a colour not fitting very well with others, I also tend to notice sounds like lights or electricity buzzing and flickering lights have a habit of making me nauseous, which is when I'll point out that they need fixing.  

Overall, I wouldn't be me if I wasn't autistic, it's a part of who I am and my personality. I tend to enjoy working in quiet and controlled environments and occasionally I'll use music to boost focus as I work better when I'm feeling positive, there's a few things such as artwork, content creation and editing that I can hyper-focus on for extended periods of time compared to neurotypical people who would need regular breaks, drinks, food or exercise. 

I absolutely adore partaking in a wide variety of activities, the main ones are content creation, creating both digital and traditional artwork, spending time with a few friends from time to time, scrapbooking, reading and writing fanfictions, collecting Doctor Who merch, bizarrely shaped objects and keyrings, gaming outside of creating content, cosplaying, photography, cookery, travelling, sports, performing arts and attending comic cons -  I could list so many more things, but I'd run out of space!

I'm mainly passionate about LGBTQIA+, BLM related and disability related matters as everyone deserves to be seen and heard and understood as am equal, I'm also extremely passionate about the huge amount of fandoms I'm in, the main ones being Doctor Who and Thomas Sanders.

There are overlaps between other disabilities and mental health issues as this is highly common among autistic people, it's also fairly common for autistic people to identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community due to how they may feel gender wise or otherwise. Autism deserves to be understood in any and all environments and situations, no matter the functionality and autistic people should be respected instead of looked down upon.

To increase awareness, I highly recommend starting out with researching autism, whether it's in books, on social media, watching YouTube videos or reading through informative webpages as well as speaking with friends and family who may have dealt with autism in the past. Currently it's highly common that autistic teens or adults will seek support with loved ones, reach out to trusted therapists, speak with support workers or seek advice from online communities such as dedicated Facebook pages, Twitter communities or online support groups. There is tons of information online from autistic people, parents with autistic children, researchers and support workers as well as a variety of content creators who speak about the subject of autism. 

I would also like there to be more awareness of the harm that the puzzle piece symbol has when used in relation with autism and the change from that to the preferred infinity rainbow. The definition and history of the puzzle piece is widely unknown and should be heard, I hope that people can attempt to research into the symbol and can spread the awareness of its true meaning as well as why it shouldn't be used anymore.”