Last week Olivia Slatter was invited to the roundtable discussion at 10 Downing St. I supported Olivia and represented our charity.
Olivia shares her experience:
‘My night was very slow the night before, I was feeling so many different emotions. I was actually tempted to cancel as my nerves and my head were getting the better of me.
I only had three hours of sleep, trying to function for the day.
It was really muggy when I woke up, and muggy weather makes me feel claustrophobic and panicky. I was scared of missing the alarm for the wake-up call, so I thought if I stay up I won’t miss it.
I carried on getting ready, cuddling my dog Maisie. I took Maisie out for a walk at 7 am to clear my head, and then had a cup of tea, and tried to figure out what to do.
I was nervous about getting on the right train, the movement of the train, and the people who might sit next to me on the train. Finding the right coach etc.
By that point I walked down to the train station, as I knew if I didn’t I would miss the train, I hate being late.
I booked train assistance to get there, and the staff were amazing on my way there and back.
I got to London still feeling overwhelmed from the culture shock of growing up in the countryside, living in a small town. There were people coming from all directions. I could hear a piano playing badly, loud train noises the microphone people when they speak through the Mic it was so static. There were so many noises and smells and different textures to process. Thankfully Anna was at Kings Cross St Pancras train station waiting for me.
I really do hate tubes with a passion, the squeaking when they break, and the people are so close to you it’s so hot and there is no air conditioning. t
I was so pleased Anna knew her way around London Since traveling across London can be overwhelming.
I still hadn’t fully understood what I was doing or how to present myself at Downing Street. However, the famous cat popped up at the window which made me smile then I took a deep breath. it was a little daunting walking through No 10 Gates and seeing all the armed police officers, I tried to stay focused.
Once in No 10 the Space X team and other participants were amazing and made me feel welcome.
Once the meeting started I received a special mention from the Education Minister. I very nearly didn’t speak, I was getting in such a panic, and feeling overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do. I passed my notes to Ingmar, and I said I might ask you to read it out.
Both Anna and Ingmar reassured me this was a once in a life opportunity come on you can do it, Olivia.
I settled down and processed the room and my brain went calm again.
I took a deep breath and thought “Well I’m here now, I’m here to represent autistic people” and then I spoke.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity and I got so nervous and overwhelmed on the day but I managed to do it.
If I can do it you can too if you put your mind to it.
I just want to say thank you Anna for making the experience calmer and better and taking the time out of your family life and your so busy with the charity.
I hope I made the autistic community proud.’
Anna shares :
‘It was a great experience for Olivia and I was so proud of Olivia when she gave her speech.
She said she wanted the Government to do more to fund and support schools. She doesn’t feel that many schools are equipped to support other students like her. She talks from her own experience diagnosed at 21 with autism and ADHD.
She went on to say that only 15% of neurodiverse individuals are in full-time employment and are often underpaid or overqualified for their role. ‘
I also shared points to reinforce what Olivia spoke about at the meeting.
I expressed support for Olivia’s vision of a more inclusive society where neurodiverse individuals can thrive and commit to joining Olivia in her efforts to bring about positive change.
I was asked to email points I had raised in our chat to the Minister and his team.
‘Both Olivia and I would give special thanks to Ingmar Kamalagharan a representative from the UK Space Agency. He has been a great support to Olivia.’
Anna Kennedy OBE