Tag: autism

Erasmus Diary Prologue Part 1: Introduction

My name is Louise Clancy. I am 22 years old and I study English and Sociology at University College Cork, Ireland (well…sort of ).

With the inspiration of bloggers and vloggers, and the suggestion by my disability officer I have decided to make a series based on my expereinces on my blog and YouTube channel. It will be honest without causing offence and it will show both the positives and negatives of Erasmus.

I have 3 reasons for doing it:

  1. I wanted an easy way to fill in with what I am up to with my friends and family.
  2. I wanted to inform people who want to do a year abroad in university, especially to those with a disability.
  3. To inspire people with autism (my condition) that you can do anything as long as you are brave enough to try.

Stay tuned later this week to read about how I worked on getting my dream of living abroad into an achievable reality.

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What People Don’t Tell You About Being An Autistic Adult

April is Autism Awareness month and every April, it has been my mission to raise awareness in ways people do not normally do so. Last year I wrote about the stupid and ignorant things people say to autistic people and here is the link to those who wish to read that post: https://collectionofclancy.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/dumb-things-said-to-autistic-people/ This year I have decided to write about the challenges many people in the Autism Spectrum Disorder face when they reach adulthood. The reason why I decided to do this is because with so many services to ensure more autistic children than ever receive diagnosis and early intervention a lack of knowledge and support to ASD adults who weren’t severe became painfully apparent. Many of these I learned for myself through experience.

  1. Third Level Institutions approach disabilities differently to school: Since universities and colleges are responsible for thousands of students every year, they are very experienced in dealing with students of disabilities including autism. Their support services are very extensive, and you ultimately choose what you need and when you need it, which gives you more freedom to deal with your problems than school did.
  2. Autism is always an extra factor in every academic decision you make. Applying for college, going on Erasmus year and applying for post-graduate study can be stressful as it already. However, people with autism must always take their condition into account. In my case, I am currently preparing for my Erasmus year in the UK. The university I chose was based on what was on offer, accessibility and distance from the nearest airport, subjects, my parent’s wishes for me not to go to America alone, my personal preferences, and of course what support services the university had for autistic people like me. Even after getting my place I will have to contend with registering with their support service as well as organising accommodation and subjects, which is annoying. Alan Rickman
  3. Job applications causes dilemmas. CV, check. Cover letter, check. Application, check. Interview attire, check. Questions, check. The problem, do I tell the employer or HR manager that I have autism? It is the big question we all face and sadly no definitive answer. Will you be rejected the job if you tell them mid-interview? If you get it, will they be angry you didn’t say it sooner? Do you get the appropriate help if you need it? Will you be seen as a valuable worker or the office autistic? Do autistic people ever get jobs at all? Seriously, I actually don’t know.    scissorhands
  4. Most partners will accept you for who you are. When you are single and without experience, you are scared no person will accept you or your autism in the romantic or sexual context. That is not entirely the case. Many partners are attracted to who you are as person and see beyond the condition. Unfortunately, you may encounter some who only see you as an entertaining clown and nothing more because of the quirks you cannot control. Those people do  not deserve your love nor your time.                                                             heart
  5. It is very easy to worry about the future because there is no information out there. Many people with autism worry about the future because they have no idea how to deal with jobs, whether or not your kids will inherit autism too, whether or not you are capable of raising kids, can you live independently, where you will go when your disability services are gone. I have gone through a lot of searches about autistic adults and there is very little out there, or it is negative, causing me to panic about the future often.
  6. You are not the only one. In my experience, it has been difficult to find people who are like me. They are either much younger than I am or they are at a different intellect. Luckily, through college and the services I am registered with, I have found people who are similar to me, which is refreshing and reassuring to know that I am not alone.

“Enabled on Campus” (ORIGINAL VERSION)

The student population of UCC is approximately 20,000 people who are diverse in every which way possible; from age, race, nationality, beliefs, sexual orientation and of course, disability. Even in the disability bracket alone, it is a diverse amount from visual and hearing impairment, to needing a wheelchair and long-term illnesses, to mental and emotional disabilities such as Down syndrome, dyslexia and autism. Here at UCC, there are over 900 students with disabilities and are registered to the Disability Support Service (DSS), including myself.

My name is Louise Clancy. I am a second year student in Arts International, studying English and Sociology. I also have Asperger’s Syndrome. Over the years I had a couple of issues with confidence, behaviour and socialising with others in school. However, I found that college has helped improve my Asperger’s overall. Living away from home and joining several societies has helped me get better at talking to new people and being organised. I still struggle with writing down notes quickly, processing a lot of information in a short space of time, remembering to do important things at the right time and not being able to control my emotions under stress. As a result, my Asperger’s is a big factor in making important decisions such as my Erasmus year, as I will need support services wherever I will study. Luckily the DSS have been great to me. They have given me note-taking services, enabled me to use my voice recorder in class, helped me get revision grinds, provided me an alternative room for my exams, and helped me write my CV. Not only have the DSS been supportive in the past, they are also willing to help me out with my future.

Muireann, a second year Film & Screen Media student has mild cerebral palsy

and it is specifically Right Hemiplegia “meaning that the CP has affected the right side of my body”. Muireann believes that one of her biggest challenges with her Cerebral Palsy for her college work is when she would “get tired very easily from carrying heavy text books around hurts by back, it is hard to take down notes fast enough in class, as I can’t keep up with the lecturers, meaning I need AT equipment, such as a microphone to record lectures. Also, I need a scribe and separate room in order to complete exams as without that help, I wouldn’t be able to complete them in time.” In her social life in college she states her biggest challenge would be “my confidence regarding people’s perceptions of disability and what they might think of me. But so far, nearly everyone I have encountered here, have been understanding and supportive.” Muireann is also satisfied with how UCC and the Disability Support Service have helped and supported her during her time in college so far. “They have, from the beginning, understood my needs and provided the supports which I need to have a fulfilling and enjoyable university experience. I found that the supports here are better than the ones I had in school because, they have more experience and the services were tailored to my exact needs.” She also thinks that UCC do not need to make any major improvements for students with disabilities.

Brian, an Environmental Science student, has both Asperger’s syndrome and Dysgraphia. He states that his Dysgraphia affects his college work because it “makes it very hard to write coherently or clearly. It’s impossible to take efficient notes in lectures or write in a tight time limit.” Brian states that his Asperger’s can affect his social life in college because it “makes it difficult to approach social situations without becoming anxious about how I’ll behave in them, and causes me to worry about how I’ll behave in them when I actually go.” He believes that the DSS have been “immensely helpful” to his college career since his diagnosis. He claims because of the Disability Support Service, “They ensure I have learning support, tutors, access to a quiet lab in the library, a separate room and scribe for written exams, and almost anything else I could need to make up for Dysgraphia and Asperger’s.” He also thinks that UCC have good infrastructure for students with disabilities. “I’ve yet to speak to someone on campus who was dissatisfied with the campus’ attention to its disabled students and faculty members. Apparently the lift in the Boole is a bit scary, but that’s about it!”

For students with disabilities, UCC has greatly acknowledged the need for services on campus. From a good standard of accessibility in and around the buildings, to the Disability Activism and Awareness Society which is run by students for students to raise awareness to a variety of issues, and the Disability Support Service. The DSS run a wide range of services for students such as Pre-entry Programmes, Education Supports, Sports & Leisure, Lifestyle Coaching, Careers Advice, and Mentoring Support Programme. With the help of these supports in UCC, there is nothing that can stop these students with from reaching their full potential.

Dumb Things Said To Autistic People

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and this post will do exactly that, raise awareness. Since discovering the truth behind my unusual childhood and the reason why I went to a different kind of school for three years, I discovered that people know jack about disabilities and how to talk to people with autism. Here are the most common:

1. “You’re autistic?!? You look so normal!” – The most common one that I (and people like me) have received from others. We all hate it. There are two reasons why we hate it: 1) We hear this EVERY SINGLE TIME. 2) So I received a compliment because I didn’t fit into the stereotype of autistic people. Wow. Thanks for telling me your negative perception of autistic people. Well done there.

2. “You’re not autistic.” – Again, more proof that people have negative perceptions of autism. By the way, I am pretty sure that I have it due to actual psychologists, qualified people who help and teach autistic kids for a living, and the fact I’ve done years of research for my own personal interest.

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3. “So you’re like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory…” – Although I encourage representation of autistic characters in TV and Films, it gets tiring that you are compared to a fictional character, portrayed by Jim Parsons.

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4. “You’re someone with Special Needs” – This term has bothered me for almost 15 years. This is a politically correct collective term, which is patronising to so many people. Screw that! If someone says “Special Needs”, the person who said it will have a special need to run fast and far.

5. “Light it up blue!” – Nice try, but please, no.

6. “Why do you get angry easily/have lots of obsessions/not go out all the time?” – Because I try to live up to non-autistic expectations and get annoyed when I fail/It’s a part of autism and I don’t care what people think because I enjoy these obsessions/because it’s expensive and I don’t mind staying in, or watching a movie in college, or having a quiet drink with friends. Moral of the story: DON’T MAKE PEOPLE FEEL BAD FOR HAVING OTHER INTERESTS THAN YOUR OWN!!!

7. “Like if you want a cure for autism” Remember when people got annoyed for those lame and superficial “Like if u wsh cancer died” posts? Same principle. *Spoiler alert*: This is no cure. Early diagnosis and intervention is your best shot.

8. “Everyone’s a little autistic.” Even though not every autistic person is the same, that statement is one of the most ignorant things ever. Don’t even think about it!

nooooooo

Despite all the annoying ignorance, I have heard some good things said too. 1. “You’re autastic!” Definitely the funniest reaction. One of my friends said this and decided to amalgamate “autistic” and “fantastic”. Nice one dude!

2.“You shouldn’t define yourself as autistic, but as a person.” THis When this person said it, it was like someone finally understood what I was thinking. Autistic people are ACTUALLY PEOPLE. What a shock! With enough help and encouragement, they can be who they want to be, not what they’re born with. They can do the Leaving Cert, go to college, have a job, be in relationships, drive and any other thing you can think of. The point is this: Be informed and open minded, and there’s no more ignorance.

I Am Not

I am not my gender. I am not my age. I am not my beliefs. I am not my interests. I am not my education. I am not my career.

I am not my family. I am not my friends. I am not my lovers. I am not my peers. I am not my teachers. I am not everyone else.

I am not my past. I am not a fool. I am not my fears. I am not a child. I am not my mistakes. I am not inferior.

I am not my nationality. I am not my creativity. I am not my sensitivity. I am not my sexuality. I am not my disability.

I am not anything, except me.

“It’s Not Bullying If…”

“It’s not bullying if it happened on the bus. It only happens in school. It’s just horseplay. Lighten up!”

“It’s not bullying if he tries to throw your toys or books out the window when the bus is moving. He’s only joking.”

“It’s not bullying if he made you feel worthless and weak. You’re just paranoid.”

“It’s not bullying if he hurt you against your will. You’re six and handicapped. It was your fault in the first place.”

It’s not bullying, it’s torture.

“Choose Life”

Choose life. Choose almost dying. Choose not speaking when you should. Choose going mental when strangers take your toys. Choose a special school in the city. Choose to get bullied. Choose wondering what’s wrong with you. Choose new friends. Choose Jesus. Choose Gaelige. Choose speaking when you shouldn’t. Choose Canada. Choose insecurity. Choose ill-fitting clothes. Choose grief. Choose scary texts. Choose medals. Choose music. Choose obsessions. Choose another year. Choose the internet. Choose letters to actors. Choose letters to actors. Choose coffee. Choose poetry. Choose your passion. Choose anxiety. Choose trouble. Choose having everything at stake. Choose parties. Choose acting on your instincts. Choose finally getting what you fought for.

Choose life.