Autism and stereotypes around career – an article by Aleysha Mcquade
There is so many negative connotations around autism, jobs and success. From a young age we are overlooked and are expected not to pass school, expected not to get a job and keep it.
No one ever expects someone with autism or SEN individuals to succeed, leaving children with the questions, “what’s the point?” “Why try my best if it amounts to nothing?”. It leaves you with a lack of confidence to go for success. I’m here to tell you my story so far and why your disability should never define your future…
For myself with autism, it affects me the most socially. I’ve always been an extremely shy and socially awkward person. There’s been so many times where I’ve tried to say something to someone I have just met or not completely comfortable with yet and my body just won’t get the words I want to say out my mouth.
For my silence, I went very much unnoticed by my teachers and peers, until I decided to change that. I’ve always been keen to defying the stereotype that someone like me cannot get the same rewards as someone without autism can.
My passion is creative arts and when I started secondary school, I didn’t have any friends and was verbally bullied, to the point I locked myself into the toilets every breaktime on the phone to my mum with major anxiety.
My mum being a single mother to two children as well as a very independent and strong-minded woman, encouraged me not to bow down to those who mistreat me and to focus on what makes me happiest. “Well, creating makes myself feel my best and happiest.” I thought to myself.
So, the next day, I decided to place myself outside on one of the benches and draw, within 5 minutes I had a crowd around me watching me draw. I was immensely nervous with this, but it inspired me more too.
As you have just read the majority of those incredible things happened in just one year! And with all of those opportunities my confidence socially has grown alongside my self-esteem as well.
I am not bullied anymore, and I showed my teachers exactly why they shouldn’t give up on those with disabilities. I am only at the beginning of my success journey and have a very long way to go but if you want to have an ambitious career filled with success and someone makes a presumption or comment on autism and your future, let it fuel you more to want to achieve more!
I hope I have inspired you to take action and stand up for your beautiful mind and life you have been given!
Hearing their positive comments about my work, made me want to show off more of what I could do. The perfect thing about it was I didn’t need to talk, I just had to pick up a pencil and let my mind run silently wild on the paper. Whilst my bullying didn’t stop, I became known for my artwork and my art became a safe place during it all.
On the other hand, many of my teachers heard the word “autism” and either didn’t bother to provide any help for my SEN needs nor educational needs or they assumed I didn’t have autism at all as I didn’t come into the stereotypical assumption of autism which is “being hyper”, “badly behaved” etc.
They heard the word autism and thought they’d have an easy job as like I mentioned previously “no one ever expects someone with autism or SEN individuals to succeed”.
As you can tell my school life wasn’t exactly the easiest. What do you do when your school fails to do its basic duty of making its pupils feel happy and excited for the next step in their life- the job world? You have to get the opportunities come to you, during my lessons I would be googling local art opportunities to do.
One day I found a short course at a university which, I could do in art and design. I felt amazing and couldn’t wait to do more things. That year (2019) I found another 4 of those short courses all with qualifications at the end, I was approached and offered to do a level 3 (A-level) in art whilst doing my GCSE’s by that university,
I went to 2 Royal academy masterclasses, I entered competitions and won the title “creator of the year” by a lovely sketchbook company and featured in their magazine which was sold globally!
Last year I achieved a grade 9 (A*) in art and am now doing an extended diploma course at UCA. I was 15 and 16 at the time when all these wonderful things happened!