Guest Blog: Love Across Neurotypes: the beauty in meeting halfway

Written by Amy Cramb

Amy and Fiancé

As an Autistic woman, relationships are rarely easy for me. I perceive, communicate, and express emotions very differently to non-autistic people. Due to these differences, it can be hard for me to empathise with the experiences of non-autistic people, and crucially, for them to empathise with my experiences. Dr Damian Milton, an Autistic academic, called this a “Double Empathy Problem.”

This problem begs the following question: Can Autistic people and non-autistic people thrive in relationships with one another, even though their experiences are often worlds apart? Oftentimes, the answer might truly be no.

Looking back on past friendships, romantic relationships, and general social experiences, I frequently felt the presence of an insurmountable ‘wall’ – I am on one side, the non-autistic people are on the other, and we just cannot get through to each other. Authentic connection fails in such circumstances.

It reached the point where I had given up on ever feeling true human connection and belonging. I found it too hard being consistently misunderstood and trapped on the lonely side of the wall. Then, out of nowhere, my now fiancé came along.

He is not Autistic, yet I am. Despite our differences, our relationship is thriving. The wall is gone, and we are deeply connected.

Why has this relationship gone so differently? I know exactly why: We meet each other halfway with compromise and unconditional acceptance.


Unsurprisingly, my partner and I experience the world very differently. Therefore, we often have conflicting wants and needs, particularly in relation to sensory preferences, communication styles, and how we engage in our personal interests.

As one example, I am very passionate about the Autism advocacy work that I do from home. Each day when my partner came home from his full-time job, I would excitedly rush up to him and start info-dumping every detail of my work that day. Without interruption, I could go on for several hours unpacking the day’s events, what I had learned, and my plans for tomorrow. One day, my partner candidly told me that he loves my passion and learning about my day; however, it is overwhelming to be instantly bombarded with so much information after work. He is exhausted by this stage and needs down time to relax. So, what happened next?

We worked together to reach a compromise. When he comes home from work, I give him some space by making us both a hot beverage. We then drink our hot beverages together whilst I info-dump the main things that I am excited or anxious to talk about. Once our beverages are finished, we spend the remainder of the evening relaxing. (Well, he relaxes … I avidly research whatever it is I am interested in at the time.)

Engaging in this routine is great for both of us. For me, I can make sense of my whirling, excitable thoughts by info-dumping them to my partner.

It is a measured approach to info-dumping that feels guilt-free because there is a clear boundary of when to stop. For him, he gets to hear about my day (or tunes out, who knows?), and then enjoys the down time that he needs, and deserves, before his next workday.

There are two things worth highlighting from this example. First, we communicated clearly and openly about both of our needs, wants, and feelings. This open communication helped me to understand and empathise with him, and vice versa. Secondly, we were both open to adapting to the other’s needs. I wanted one thing, he wanted another, but we met somewhere in the middle.

Unconditional Acceptance

Compromising is one thing, but unconditional acceptance goes one step further. One can compromise in a relationship yet still reject the other person’s perspectives as inadequate, invalid, or wrong. Sadly, this kind of rejection is very common for Autistic individuals, myself included.

For most of my life, I have felt negatively judged or dismissed. Others seemingly struggled to see my experiences as valid.

I would try to meet halfway but was often left stranded there – confused and alone. As the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir put it, “No one would take me just as I was.”

So, you can imagine my surprise when my partner immediately embraced my quirks.

Fundamentally, he offers me unconditional acceptance by acknowledging, rather than judging or dismissing, my differences. In return, I accept and love him unconditionally even when I don’t always understand him.

Some examples of how we show each other unconditional acceptance are with phrases such as, “That doesn’t make any sense to me, but I am here for you regardless”, or “I can see you are struggling. Whilst I can’t understand why, I know you see things differently to me. How can I help?” Through thoughtful, supportive, and open dialogue, we put effort into accepting each other’s unique experiences as valid.

The Halfway Point

Relationships between Autistic people and non-autistic people don’t always thrive, as explained by Dr Milton’s Double Empathy Problem. The ‘wall’ exists, whereby Autistic and non-autistic people often cannot get through to each other. However, this separation in experiences is merely the starting point. If both sides work their way up the wall through compromise and acceptance, they can meet at the top – the halfway point – where true connection, understanding, and even love, can arise.

Amy Cramb is the Founder of Finding Autism.

Mofaux in Wonderland

A guest Blog from Angela Loynd

I’ve never been particularly good at writing. It’s not that I don’t have a wild imagination, far from it. Without the stress and anxiety (and dare I say ‘trauma’) that emerges from my youth in both the primary and secondary education setting, my brain can do amazing things. But writing them down on paper (or on my laptop) has always been difficult for me (you’ll see this in my LinkedIn posts which are always inevitably ‘edited’). Thank goodness for the modern technical tools that help us to succeed!

I was recently asked by a wonderful LinkedIn connection and fellow neurodiversity advocate (Joyce CoomberSewell) to write as a guest blogger on this site, a seemingly simple task for some, but whilst I was incredibly honoured, it filled me with fear, anxiety, and dread. Imposter syndrome had kicked in. What is that, I hear you ask? Impostor syndrome (IS) refers to ‘an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be… it has links to perfectionism and the social context’ (Cuncic, 2021).

Who would want to hear my story?

Why would they want to know? Why would they care? Why would it matter? All these questions suddenly swirled around, penetrating and invading the magical and creative space in my head. Then it hit me. All the work I’ve done over the past few years came into effect, the positive self-talk, the mission to help others like me, and the adolescents and young adults who are still finding or yet to find their own voice. If it only reaches one of you, this one is for you.

I write ‘micro-blogs’ I like to call them and share others’ wisdom almost daily on social media. I’m no expert, only in my own life. But I do believe in sharing what has worked for me, and I’m constantly learning every day from others, including my own Neurodivergent Adolescent and Young Adults (NDAYAs). I write about positive ND affirming topics, support strategies, #ndhumour, but I also share my stories of trauma, feelings of being lost, the constant searching through what I can only describe as ‘The Matrix’ we live in for answers to ‘Who am I’?

We neurodivergent (ND) folx do this often, with a bag of tricks which generally includes our multitude of masks, strategies, and scaffolding techniques. However, statistics will show you that we have high rates of mental health comorbidity, social and financial inequity, experience workplace bullying and harassment, and relationship distress. I for one know full well the serious ramifications of workplace bullying, the breakdown in mental health, the tears, the pressure on my family, the struggle so real that I almost ended my life.


I was going through my diagnosis at the time, clearly struggling and in need of support from my peers and management, as well as simple adjustments in the workplace. I was confused, lost, distressed, and traumatized – I didn’t know any better. But in the workplace, especially a large organisation embedded in healthcare, you have no excuse. You have a duty of care. You have a moral and professional obligation. The ableist, toxic behaviour you exhibited was life-threatening…  Shame on you.

Joyce, thank you for inspiring and believing in me, when I didn’t believe in myself! My husband always does and said I should have done this, so he’s claiming responsibility for instigating the newsletter! (Henrik, you are my rock, I love you so much.)


Cuncic, A. (2021). What is Imposter Syndrome? Verywell Mind.

This is an excerpt to a fictional piece which may provide some insight.

(All identity descriptions are written as ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’)


Mofaux in ‘Wonderland’ – A  story of turning the tides.

“I’m finally starting my new job at Wonderland. The dream job, I’ve worked hard, interviewed hard, I’ve won big, finally!” After the normal ‘new job’ nerves settle, Mofaux is excited to be part of the team. Thinking silently, ‘nothing I can’t handle”. With significant work experience up each sleeve, Mofaux is a top performing graduate from a high-ranking university, confident, well resourced, popular, charming, and moderately socially and economically carefree.

Illustration by Ulf Andersson

Mofaux walks in for the first day in the office. The workplace appears like most shared office spaces, but something is different, odd, unnerving. Mofaux can’t put a finger on it but feels anxious immediately. It’s 9am and some of the desks are empty, the phones are silent, the lights are dimmed, and nobody is talking. It’s a surreal experience and it knocks Mofaux off-balance, anxiety rising in their throat. There’s a young person in the corner office flapping hands wildly, but nobody seems to care or notice. Another room to the side seems to be soundproofed and there’s a team of people inside, conversing madly, scribbling ideas wildly on paper and whiteboards spread throughout the room, some dancing and listening to headphones, to what Mofaux can only imagine is music.

Wondering if they’ve just abseiled down the rabbit hole, there’s not a soul in the office who is taking the slightest bit of notice to this bizarre and unusual performance. Mofaux finally sits at their allocated desk, others directly nearby are introduced briefly, and then they return to their work, placing headphones back on in the process. The manager appears, explaining the day, which is to be spent adjusting to the workplace, working through the self-paced ‘Wonderland’ induction package, before being asked if there is anything they need to make their day and time here more comfortable?

“What the hell is going on?” Mofaux can’t take it anymore – anxiety, frustration, and fear exploding from within. Panic sets in, but the mask has finally fallen. The manager meets Mofaux’s confused gaze and sits down quietly for a few minutes on the seat nearby, only asking how they can support Mofaux at this moment. Mofaux shakes their head confused, bewildered, but calmer after the verbal outburst, all of which nobody has taken much notice of, except the manager, who remains seated nearby.

“What is going on? Where am I? What is this place? The lights are dim, there are people not here, the phones don’t ring, others wear strange headphones, some are flapping hands in the corner, and nobody seems to be aware how strange any of this is!” The manager realising Mofaux’s confusion, explains, “The people who work here are neurodivergent, I thought you knew that. We make individual and group-based workplace adjustments for all our staff, to meet their sensory and physical needs, so that everyone can succeed here, including you.

Stunned, blinking and dazed, Mofaux finally asks, “what do you call it?”

The manager replies…”We call it inclusion, Mofaux! Welcome to the revolution!”

“Welcome to Wonderland”



Having been a long-term member of the Twilight networking group I was very eager to participate in the new Brunch, mid-morning, network.

Though Brunch and Twilight are very different in their formats, they are currently both on Zoom which has given me the opportunity to meet people across the whole of Great Britain. They are both exceedingly good places to be to meet like-minded businesspeople.

Having attended both Brunch meetings and numerous Twilight meetings I have had multiple 121’s with people eager to make connections. These meetings are not primarily to instantly do business but rather to build relationships and even friendships. The outcome of this is that I can confidently refer other businesses to the businesspeople I meet.

Neil D’Silva is a great instigator of these two networking groups, which both come under the banner of GoNetworking. The atmosphere is light and inviting with clear instructions on how these meetings will be orchestrated and how to make the most of them not only by listening to one another but by sharing in the chat, which can be saved and used after the meeting.

I am very much looking forward to my continuing presence in these two networking groups, Twilight and Brunch.


So what is the difference between Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring?

Image result for counsellingCounselling is undertaken by you and a fully accredited counsellor. On the whole you do most of the talking, the counsellor is only there to guide you in discovering the answers to your problem yourself.

Image result for coaching Coaching is much more thought of within the sporting and business sector, though not exclusively. The coach will guide and teach you on how to develop your skills. Whether this is at the gym or in your current role at work.

Image result for mentoring Mentoring is where the mentor and the client have a two way conversation. The relationship is very different to that of the counsellor or the coach. The mentor would help the client to up skill in whatever area the client requires. The role of the mentor is much more in line with being a good friend, big brother, or sister.

Of course all three professions are bound by the rules of confidentiality. The only time confidentiality should be breached is if the client disclosed committing an act of terrorism, harming someone else, or harming themselves.

In my role as a mentor I have guided my clients in many, many areas. These can range from helping university students manage their money, how to stay safe when entering new relationships, and how to work with their tutors. Often when working with autistic people I’ve helped them come to terms with their suspected diagnosis or how to seek medical diagnosis, to accept their differences but not to be ashamed of them but to own them. I have helped people understand what is blocking them from progressing. The client and I would identify what it is from their past that they have created as a truth, collected evidence to prove that that truth is true, but that “truth” has now become their roadblock.

So how do you identify which one of these three professionals you require?

Image result for three professionals

I guess the role of the coach may be the easiest of the three to identify with. For instance if you want a progress at work you may go to your up line and asked them to teach you the skills that are required. Or you might ask someone in your up line if you can be accountable to them for fulfilling your targets. Or maybe you want to lose a certain amount of weight and become fitter, therefore you might seek out someone at your local leisure centre or gymnasium for help, advice, and to be accountable to.

Becoming the client of a counsellor is often for a shorter period of time, for a specific problem. It is common to be initially offered one meeting a week for six weeks, which is quite often adequate, though this can be extended. Often the client goes to the counsellor with one specific problem, though when resolving that problem it may raise other issues. The role of the counsellor is to listen, not to disclose anything about themselves, nor to solve the problem for the client but for the client to solve the problem for themselves.

Like the counsellor the mentor may also only offer one meeting a week for six weeks, though it is common for this to develop into a longer period of time. The relationship is very much a two-way flow where the mentor will share about themselves and their experiences as well as the client. So for instance if the client is struggling to manage their finances it would be appropriate for the mentor to speak of how they have learnt this themselves, including hiccups along the way. Obviously, the mentor would not reveal in-depth personal information, but it is important that the mentor shows that they have empathy with their client.

On a personal note I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Counselling Coaching and Mentoring. Had I wished to have become a counsellor I would have had to take another year’s course equal to a Master’s Degree. At the end of that year I would have then had to register with a counselling association Image result for counselling associationbefore I went into practice. This is not required to become a Coach or a Mentor, in fact no qualifications are required, and you do not have to be a member of any association.

That being said, working with a trained, experienced Mentor like me is always advisable.

To find out more please contact us.

Change, Good or Bad???

All examples given in this blog are hypothetical.  No reference to real people, living or dead should be inferred.

How do we view change? Do we look forward to it? Or do we dread it?

For instance, if you’ve scheduled a Zoom Best Overall Video Conferencing Service - meeting with a potential client, who then at the last minute changes the time of the meeting. How does that make you feel?


Maybe you booked a holiday to go to Euro DisneyEuro disney Logos and then the pandemic struck with all its restrictions. Now even though you’ve changed the date three times you now feel you can no longer go. How does that make you feel?

Your living arrangements change. How does that make you feel?

You go to the fridge to eat that last piece of chocolate cake The BEST Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever | The Novice Chefonly to find someone has beaten you to it. How does that make you feel?

In all of these scenarios something has changed that you didn’t plan to change. For some people, in some of these instances, they may just shrug their shoulders and only feel slightly inconvenienced, after all it’s no big deal. For others it can completely throw them off track.

Let’s look at these scenarios again.

Expanded Examples

You’re working from home, maybe you have children who are also off school and you’re trying to help them with all their homework. Premium Vector | Little school children learningYou scheduled a one hour business meeting over Zoom. You’ve set the children a fun activity they can do without your help with a scrumptious reward if they don’t disturb you during your meeting. And then right at the last minute the person you are scheduled to speak with asked to change the time!!! Now what to do? Do you sweetly say, “Of course, no problem at all”? Knowing full well that your children will create havoc if you try and reschedule their fun activity and goodies. Or do you tell this potential new client that it’s not possible to reschedule knowing that you risk losing the contract. You have a choice.

Your family has been really looking forward to their holiday at Euro Disney since before the pandemic struck. Euro Disney a Disgrace - Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallee Traveller Reviews - TripadvisorEach time you change the date the family, though they understand the restrictions caused by the pandemic, are still upset and sulky. Though Euro Disney are being fantastic about rescheduling your stay, the booking has run out on your Eurotunnel ticket who won’t let you reschedule. You have already lost the money on this ticket so do you, buy another ticket which you really can’t afford, or do you cancel the holiday altogether? Making sure you promise the family that you will rebook once the pandemic is under control? Either way the family is upset and cross with all parties holding you responsible. You have a choice.

You have extended family living with you long-term and though this has been a slightly rocky road overall you have enjoyed it. Our Favorite Books About Unhappy Families — Barnes & Noble ReadsAnd then one day they come to you to say they are moving out with immediate effect. No matter what you say they are not open for conversation even though you believe it’s not in their best interest. So what do you do, keep trying to persuade them to stay until a proper plan can be put into place. Alternatively you just let them go hoping it won’t end in the disaster you think it will end in? Either way you know that you will be made to feel bad and wrong. You have a choice.

Last night after dinner there was one lonely, chocolatey, lush piece of cake left.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake - Nora CooksYou took it to the fridge and hid it behind other foods hoping no one else would notice. At lunchtime the following day, whilst everybody else was occupied, you tiptoed into the kitchen, you quietly opened the fridge door, moved everything that was hiding your secret stash. You were drooling with anticipation of the texture and the taste of that hidden delight… Then, to your horror the space was empty, you searched other shelves, pulling out random foodstuff, bowls, jars, looking for the hidden chocolatey delight. As each second ticked by your heart began to sink. Your mind wrestled with not being able to taste the delights of the rich chocolate and the soft moist sponge. The choice of what to do next, sink to your knees sobbing into your arms at the disappointment. Or storm around the house accusing everybody that they had stolen your hidden delight? You have a choice.


In all these above scenarios we have a choice to make. And it would be easy to say that one choice would be good, and one choice would be bad but is that really the case. What do we mean by choice anyway? Now, making a decision is much easier; you way up the pros and cons. You can even draw a line down the centre of a piece of paper. Put pros on one side and cons on the other and weigh up which one would give you the better result, but a choice is just a choice, not a decision. It’s not a good choice nor a bad choice, it is just a choice. Yet we find it so much harder to make simple choices and usually we end up making a decision. The choice is not dependent on the end result, a choice is just a choice, chocolate, or vanilla, you choose.Chocolate OR vanilla? Choose. Choice is a useful and interesting distinction. It tells us a lot about our beliefs and values. It al… | Chocolate, Vanilla, Ice cream

Cats and Other Nonhuman Companions

Why cats you may be asking? Why not, I reply?

We are living in extremely weird times, no social interaction, wearing face coverings, no schools, working from home and the wonderful technology of Zoom.

We here at CoomberSewell Enterprises LLP own two delightful, but very different, further babies.

Now Kevin is of a mature age,  a little rickety on the back legs, and sleeps more than his younger counterpart. Kevin is a tabby cat, who has lived life to the full and has the raggedy ear ends to prove it. He is not so keen on catching mice as he once was but will happily eat up the remains that his female companion hunts for him. Kevin likes nothing more to come and sit on our laps and snuggle up under our chins whilst we scratch his neck and ears. He will purr contentedly all the time it suits him; he will move from my lap to her lap and then back to my lap until he gets bored when he will walk around the furniture until he can sit contentedly on the windowsill watching the world go by.

And then there is Woof… A female tabby cat who is a little confused by her name and lives the persona of both cat and dog. Woof has her own personal slave who tends to her every whim and need. Her slave is autistic, a recluse and a selective mute. For him Woof is his constant companion. She lives in his bedroom with him, and though he cannot tolerate human physical contact she is allowed to snuggle into him for warmth and tummy cuddles. She persuades him several times a day to feed her Dreamies, to play games which do include the occasional scratch and bite when he least expects it.

These two cats are a delight to the whole household and in these times of lockdown have become a source of distraction and fun.

Perhaps I should also mention our eight chickens who live in a very large luxurious sun house with a huge fenced in enclosure to run around and play in. Now, I would not want you to think that these chickens are in any way, spoilt after all they only provide us with eggs everyday which we sell on to very appreciative friends and neighbours. Inside their wonderful sun house they have a large shelf that they snuggle together on, to sleep every night. They have eight nesting boxes, though I am unsure why they only lay their eggs in one? They have food and water, a ladder to walk up to their bed, sawdust on the floor and a large bale of hay to keep them warm. Out in their run they have two logs to jump on and off of and to find insects to nibble on. They have home-made climbing frames and on the 1st of January they acquired their own Christmas tree. In their run they also have a large bale of straw which has been de-roped, and they have scattered to their hearts’ content. They also have an automatic feeder which these very clever chickens have quickly learned that if they jump onto the treadle the lid pops opens and they can feed to their tummy’s content. Every morning my other half takes them out scraps of food left over from us humans, laced with plain biscuits and warm water. She changes their roosting paper, cleans up their mess, checks their water and their feeder to keep our delightful, productive chickens happy in their daily task. Every evening she visits them again, cleans up after them again, and entices them back in to their warm sun house with delightful treats.

And of course there are the fish, some who live outside in the pond with lots of lily pads and pondweed. The other fish live a warm life in their tropical tank filled with beautiful plants, a sunken pirate ship, beautiful stones and slate.  Today they welcomed 10 new companions, making them welcome in their tropical home.

I hope you have some furry friends or other nonhuman companions to help you through these difficult times. Cuddles, fussing and talking to our beloveds helps with the feeling of isolation, loneliness and the long days.

But should you need a chat with a fellow human please don’t forget we are always here, willing and able to listen and help where we can.

So This is Christmas???

So This Is Christmas???

Well what an amazing year we have had, who would have thought last Christmas that we were heading for a pandemic?

I know it would be easy to speak about all the things we have missed but I thought 🤔 let’s take a look at some of the pluses, yes there have been a few

Zoom  Skype  Teams  Messenger  to name a couple of online, face-to-face platforms.

Jane and I have transferred all of our university students onto Zoom, which has been a great success. The majority of our students are on the autistic spectrum so meetings on the Internet are much easier than face-to-face


But it’s not just our university students, one of the many hats  Jane wears is as a schools governors clerk, they too have moved on to Zoom. Jane has also recently joined the Federation of Small Businesses  and is Zooming  along to several of their network meetings.

For myself I am seeing my private clients on zoom as well as attending Twilight networking meetings every other Thursday evening

Another good thing that has been happening is exercise,  Just how many adverts have we seen in the last year to join online exercise classes. Not that I’m saying we have participated in any of these because we haven’t. What we have been doing is going out for walks  Admittedly we did far more walking during the first lockdown than we have been doing recently but that is because our workload has greatly increased. Not only have I been doing more mentoring,  but Jane has been undertaking far more proofreading  than ever before

What about actually meeting face-to-face with family and friends,  I for one more than ever greatly appreciate those rare occasions. Whether that’s having a socially distanced barbecue  in our back garden or unexpectedly meeting old friends while out on a walk 

Personally, I also like the new way our doctors surgery  is operating. I phone  them, the receptionists asks a few questions, then I’m either phoned back to say there’s a prescription sent to the chemist, or that the doctor will phone me, or the doctor will see me, and I’m given an appointment time. I for one hope this system stays in place after the pandemic is over. No more sitting in germ  infested waiting rooms.

Some things have not changed though, for instance about every eight weeks Jane and I cook, freeze, and take up to Derbyshire 70+ meals  for my old stepdad.  We fill his two freezers  and normally we would spend the weekend with him. Of course, currently this is not possible under the Covid-19 restrictions. So last Sunday Jane and I did a 12 hour, 600 mile round trip,  spending just 45 minutes with him, unloading the car, filling the freezers, and then sitting in his shed  while he stood in the doorway of his kitchen  chatting to one another through our various facemasks  and shields. 

With just under two weeks to go before Santa comes to fill our stockings  we are busy ordering those last-minute presents  off of the Internet. Though very limited I suspect we will meet with a few of our family over this Christmas. So, it just leaves me to say;

Have a very, very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Meaning Making Machines

I have just successfully survived my final review for my Masters by Research.

Tracking The Timeline and Impact Of Inequality Between Autistics And Non-Autistics In The United Kingdom From The 19th Century To The Current Day

So now I have until mid-February to get my final draft in,  ready to submit at the end of March.

So why am I telling you this, how does this link to Meaning Making Machines and why did I wait until I was in my 60s to go to University?

As a 6yr old in infant school child my desire was to be allowed to have a reading book, but to attain this I had to correctly read some flash cards. One fateful day I was called to the teachers desk, my turn had come once again. Out of all the cards there were two I consistently read wrong, COME and BECAUSE, those dreaded words. My teacher must have felt very frustrated and smacked me on my bottom.

And in that moment, I created my Meaning: “I am thick and stupid”. I then set my life on the track to prove that that meaning was completely correct.

I became the class clown at school, to hide how thick and stupid I was. I left school at 15 so as not to ‘fail’ at any O levels I might have been expected to take.

Due to my mum getting me an interview at the factory where she worked, I started work straight from school. However, within a year I became pregnant even though at that stage I had considered pursuing qualifications as I really enjoyed my job.

Once I went back to work, in between having more children, I always chose basic, factory, potato picking, shop jobs as I believed I was too thick and stupid to attain anything else.

As I got older, I used my thick and stupid meaning as an excuse to not be responsible for my actions.

For example, in my early 40s I became a Doctor’s receptionist, a job I thought was far above my station. One of the responsibilities I was given was being in charge of the prescriptions which came out from the back office. This also included filing them in alphabetical order, this was way outside my comfort zone. ABC is fine but AA, AB, AC etc is a real challenge. One day a gentleman asked for his prescription, he gave me his name, I went to the box, removed a prescription and handed it to him. Within a few short seconds he was laughing hysterically. By an alphabetical error I had given him his brothers prescription for Viagra……

Of course, I went straight to my thick and stupid excuse. It wasn’t my fault, fancy the manager giving such a responsible job to a thick and stupid person.

A few years later I decided to try and get an English GCSE. After every 2hr lesson I went to learning support to have the lesson explained more fully. The gentleman I saw suggested I met with an Educational Psycologist for an assessment. The outcome showed that I am very dyslexic but have a higher than average IQ. Oh! and I attained a ‘B’ in English 😊

Now you would think that would be the end of my thick and stupid excuse but remember, humans are Meaning Making Machines. Something happens, we make it mean something, then we collect our bias history to keep that meaning in place.

I continued to believe that I was thick and stupid even though I had papers to prove I wasn’t.

My A-ha moment…

came during a Landmark Forum course in London.  I shared my thick and stupid stance. I was asked when did I last feel this. I replied ‘at lunchtime when in the lift with others. I had said the floor number I thought to be correct and of course it was another floor number’. The leader asked for those in the lift with me to raise their hands, he then asked them if they had said I was thick and stupid. They of course said no, I quickly replied ‘but they thought it’.

The Landmark Leader then asked me when I had first thought I was thick and stupid. This I quickly related to my school flash card debacle. We then looked at my thick and stupid history and how I had used this to keep my “truth” in place. Of course, that smack given to me by my teacher could have meant a thousand different things, but I chose it to mean I was thick and stupid. No ‘truth’ there at all, just me being a Meaning Making Machine, which all humans do. Something happens, we make it mean something, then collect history to keep it in place as ‘truth’

So now in my 60s I have passed my Bachelors with a 2:1 and I am nearly finished my Masters by Research.

Now what will be my next challenge??? If you have suggestions, contact us

Different Experiences, Different Times

In this blog I want to talk about the different experience of two people with autism, myself and a 21 year old.

Let me start with my own journey from school to my present day university.

I remember my first day at infant school, standing amongst a large crowd of adults and small children like myself. I remember a little boy clinging to his mother and sobbing his heart out, this boy later became the school bully.

When I started school there was no mention of dyslexia or autism, if you couldn’t keep up you were known as slow, or inattentive or even thick and stupid. Somehow, I always managed to stay up in one of the top classes, by this I mean I was not put in the class for the ‘less able’.

My overriding memory of school both primary and secondary was the people I was at school with. In the first few years of primary school I had one friend, we spent every playtime together, just the two of us. That was until her dad, who was in the army, got posted overseas. My then friend went to a group of girls and asked them if I could join their group and they said yes.

I spent the remaining years of my primary and secondary school life being on the outside of that group, never feeling like I quite belonged. The girls were never mean or nasty to me, I joined in the games that they played, but I never felt like I quite belonged. As we all grew older together, I discovered that they were meeting up at the evenings and weekends, going swimming or to the pictures together, but I was never invited.

In my secondary school years, I felt like the teachers removed me to stand outside the classroom door more often than being in the class. My school reports said things like, “if she spent less time helping others and did own work she would do better”.

Later in life I went to college to study English GCSE, but again I never made any lasting friendships. However, I did learn to hand in unusual possibly obscure subject matter for all my assignments. For instance, my story was on ‘Christmas through the eyes of the donkey’. This got published in the college’s Christmas magazine.

And on turning 60 I went to university to study for my Bachelor’s degree in Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring. I spent three years of my life, two full days a week, with the same cohort of people, with the same outcome as when I was at school. No one was unkind to me, we chatted together if the moment called for it, but I was never invited to go to lunch with them or join in social activities after the lectures.

I am now taking my Masters by Research where there are no lectures to attend or any cohort to be on the outside of. I have wonderful supervisors who help me, support me and direct me along the path to succeed.

Now let me talk about a young 21-year-old and their journey through education. They too started school around the age of five. Throughout their entire primary school experience, they felt they were treated differently than the non-autistics in their class.

In the morning they attended a normal class with everybody else, but always felt like they were treated differently both by the teachers and their classmates. At lunchtime instead of going into the dining room, those who were deemed ’different’ had their lunch separately. In the afternoon these children were again segregated into a separate class to learn more about social skills than reading, writing and arithmetic.

At the age of 11 this young person started in a special educational needs (SEN) School to continue their education. Though in this school they felt more accepted and treated more equally and were able to make friends with like-minded people, they were not allowed to take any meaningful qualifications.

Next this person progressed into college to take GCSE English and Maths and a BTEC qualification. Again, they experienced feelings of being treated differently, and though the BTEC course they had chosen had aspects that did not sit comfortably with them they continued to the end, finishing with a successful BTEC qualification.

This gave them enough points to continue on to university to take a Foundation qualification in computing. This is when they and I met, I became this young person’s mentor, and what a privilege that has been.

They have now completed their Foundation degree with a very high score and progressed onto the first year of their Bachelor’s degree in gaming.

During all of their experience of university they have not felt any of the stigma that they felt through their schooling and college life. They have made friends and been treated equally with the whole of their cohort by their lecturers.

So, what does this say about the 20th and 21st century experience of an autistic in education?

We both experienced prejudice from teachers and other pupils, we both experienced rejection and isolation during our school and college lives. But here is where the paths differ, I as a 60+ year old still felt on the outside during my Bachelor’s degree experience, whereas this 20+ year old found acceptance, friendship, and path into their future life.

Could this just be because of different personalities, different backgrounds, or is it be the difference between how older people and the younger generation view autistics?