Anna Taylor is a woman who has always felt a sense of responsibility from a young age, and who now in her 50s is on a mission to support Autistic adults, having faced the struggles and challenges herself as a mum of autistic children for over 30 years and worked within the sector throughout her career.
Anna 54, a mum of 4, including 2 autistic adult sons, is the CEO of Autism Matters – a “not for profit” charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), based in the North East of England, offering a range of support and services for Autistic adults. Working alongside a fellow parent of an Autistic adult, Anna and her team have invested their hearts and souls into providing unique services with over 80 members now accessing the centre, community events and activities.
“Everyday I get to work with the most inspiring bunch of Autistic adults you could ever dream of meeting…. here are a few things Autistic adults need us to know!
- DON’T TRY TO CHANGE ME. Some of the people I get to hang out with tell me they have had some bad experiences around this. Don’t try to get them to fit expectations of how they should be. For example, stopping their traits or behaviours, passions and interests. As the kids grow, and turn into adults, some accept who they are, some learn for themselves, and some see that being neuro-diverse is an evolution, not a disability.
- DON’T TRY TO STOP ME DOING THE THINGS I WANT TO DO and can do, because of the things I can’t do, or I don’t know about yet. In other words, I have autism, and It restricts me sometimes. I may get overwhelmed by too much sensory stuff. But don’t stop me ever experiencing things because of it. I still need to experience all the emotions, and opportunities everyone else has the right to experience. I can be sexual, i can love, get hurt, earn a living, go out, have friends, go on holiday, and experience life…Cotton wool is not necessary.
- RESPECT THAT I HAVE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS DIFFERENT FROM YOU. I am unique, and like to do things my way. It’s ok to be different, feel different and value difference.
- DON’T PUT ME IN AN ABILITY CATEGORY. High functioning, low functioning, able, less able, mild, severe, these are all phrases and categories professionals need to create to put us in boxes. It may help them, but it often doesn’t help us. How someone experiences autism is unique.
- TREAT ME AS AN EQUAL. Ok to be honest, I often treat most of the people I work with as superior to me! Reason being, they often retain more information than I do, have amazing recollection (I forget what day it is) and just are amazing experts in their special interests. I cannot remember how many times I have been corrected on an exact conversation, what I said, or promised, or suggested, only to forget it all. If I need to know anything, I usually ask one of our tribe, as they will have the correct answer. But it annoys me greatly when I see people treat others with little respect, or talk down to them, or worse, ask a carer to answer for them. We ALL belong on this planet, have a right to fulfil our purpose, in whatever way we choose, with respect for others, without harming anyone.
There are always exceptions to every rule, I’m not saying this is true for everyone. After all when you have met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person, no two people are the same… right?
To find out more about Autism Matters please visit http://www.autism-matters.co.uk/