Life as an Adult with Mild Autism
By: Selma Star
I live in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
I would like you to know something about myself. And I would like to share some important views about autism, paticularly, paying attention to issues faced by independant living, mildly autistic adults.
I myself am a mildly autistic, independant living adult. I was diagnosed as autistic at the age of five. I spent all my childhood and youth in special schools, including Feversham School which used to be next-door to Walbottle High School. I have never had a job and been in receipt of disabilty benefits all my life. I am now in my middle thirties.
Before I go any further, I want you to know that I do not deny that the needs of children and teenagers which must be propery met. I am here to bring up something which is not at preasent being addressed.
The most important point I would like to make is that Autism is not just a “childhood disorder”. The vast majority of people who know about autism, have only heard of children and teenagers having the problem, and yet all of these youngters will grow-up to be adults, and will never grow-out of this “adolescent” condition. They will continue to remain autistic throughout their whole lives.
The only existing support and sevices for autistic people, is education and training for children and teenagers. These peoples’ lives do go beyond the age of twenty and outside the classroom. These facts seem to be continually ignored.
There are absolutely no services and support at all for independant living, mildly autistic ADULTS. Because of this serious gap in the welfare system, I have been spending my whole adult life making do, with attending mental-health day-centres which are totally usuitable for me. In these place I have never got any of the positive encouragement and support I need to live a better happier life. Instead I’ve had to waste my life in these places where most people just sit and smoke all day, every day. To say the least, this is very depressing and it is “soul-destoying”. This makes me feel like “I am at the bottom of a steep-sided ditch with no hope of ever getting out”. This very bad situation is an absolutely dreadful and tragic waste of a good healthy life.
I think everybody should be made well aware of this whole awful truth. What I have described here, would be the sort of miserable hopeless future that all these children and teenagers will have to look forwarward to, if the need of appropriate and adequate support for mildly autistic, independant living adults continues to be ignored.
Mental-health facilities are my only source of human contact, although the people there, do not offer me the kind of companionship I need. If I do not go to any of these places, my entire life would be spent completely alone, because I do not have any friends to visit or meet out. Most people in mainstream society do not want to give me any friendship, or involve themselves with people like me, who are “different”, whose personality/disposition is “odd/eccentric” and does not conform to the umwritten rules of the “norm”. This creates total social isolation.
Autistic people are not criminals, they are just “different” and should, never be reproached and treated like they are naughty because if it. Autistic people must never have their own “little world” taken away from them, by people who try to force them into becoming “normal”, which is something they can NEVER do and will never be. Instead, they need to be encouraged and given opportunities to do what they CAN do, such as the things they themselves are natually interested in, so they can live the worthwhile and happy lives they have the right to live. I have all my life been subjected to this “mis-treatment”.
After twenty years of being made to feel ashamed and bad about myself for being the way I am, I no longer want to be a “nobody”, just a sad person with a problem no-one wants to be bothered with. I want to be a performing singer, something worth being. I have, in only the past six months been getting opportunities to at last do something worthwhile, which is why you all see me proudly on stage singing tonight. I hope to have the opportunities of many more performances, and possibly doing some original music and even making some records in the future.
I look forward to being something really worth being, somebody worth knowing and living a LIFE worth LIVING!
Sevanna Star is my stage-name.