This section is evolving and more will be added as time permits.
1. Early Years
As a young person in the 1970s and 1980s there was little or no general awareness or even scientific knowledge of Autism, especially what is known as “Asperger’s”, “Aspie”, “High Functioning Autism”, or the DSM V diagnostic Level 1 on the Autism Spectrum.
Because of behaviour significantly impacting my social functioning I was diagnosed early with an ADHD-type disorder. Despite medication treatment, things did not improve and treatment was stopped early on. Circumstances in my life worsened.
2. The Wasteland
Due to this ongoing issue I suffered a great deal of stress which I did my best to ignore in an effort to be ‘normal’. I experienced a disabling mental illness involving Depression and Anxiety for many years beginning in my late teens which was formally diagnosed in my early adult years, and supported as having a Psychosocial disability. I was unable to develop a career or enjoy a full life even though I had been tested as having a high IQ in the top 2% and had shown great academic promise as a youngster.
I spent many aimless confused years with worsening outlook despite expert Medical care and the best support my family and friends could provide. I lived a life of self-isolation, self-medicating my misery with the use of substances.
3. Baby Steps
As I approached 40 I was able to gain some insight in my situation and reached a resolution of self-improvement through what became my personal mantra of “Baby Steps”. With help from experts I began self-managing my healing from the mental illness within what I later discovered to be the Mental Health Recovery framework.
I was able to begin a career in my 40s, developing skills and experience in supporting people with physical, developmental, and psychosocial disabilities. The self-managed continuous improvements in my outlook, improved treatments, and ability to cope with the demands of life the symptoms of the mental illness began to be better managed and gradually reduced.
I grew in self-confidence with each small success as my knowledge and experience grew, expanding my new professional and personal capacities. I was able to move up the academic ladder from a TAFE Certificate III in Disability to graduating from a Social Science (Social Welfare) Bachelor’s degree in 5 years. My life improved dramatically from the previous decades, enough that it eventually brought a new set of challenges.
4. Aspie, Moi?
In these more aware times people close to me noticed more Autism Spectrum ‘Aspie’-type behaviour as other signs and symptoms faded. I was having trouble coping with the changes in my life which were happening in this transition. Relationships suffered greatly. I began searching for more answers regarding Autism than my training had provided and I was recently able to get authoritative recognition that this had been an undetected factor in my psychosocial disability, and masked by it.
This is ironic as I my new professional life had called on me to support people with varying levels of Autism-related disabilities. Because of my then mindset not once had I recognised any correspondence with my own problems. This seems to be a feature of the fragmented nature of specialisation and diagnosis in the current mainstream medical model and now informs my emphasis on Generalism with preference for the systems integration approach of the Holistic approach to Medicine.
5. Keep On Truckin’
My current diagnosis for which I am receiving more appropriate NDIS-funded support is of Level 2 Autism which is considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) disability. In my case it seems this complex disability is due to the impact of the years the condition was not managed effectively, and the subsequent Psychosocial disability. The support I continue to receive enables me to perform to the full requirements of my professional life while optimally managing my workload.
The Recovery framework I had been implementing continues to apply as in my experience it can be generalised and adapted to all forms of disabilities and minimise their impact through increasing resilience. I am now able to make better use of the knowledge I gained and strategies I developed unsupported over a lifetime specifically in dealing with ASD-related challenges, as well as the Mental Health issues.
6. Your Mission, Should You Accept It
It is my passion now to be able act as a mentor and advocate to have others benefit in building life skills and understanding using my academic and practical training, work experience, and the insights these life experiences gave me. My specialty is now ensuring that people with any disability may have a smoother journey towards meeting their full potential.
This specialty is an integral part of my service delivery no matter what item of support I am addressing. I am also available to specifically deliver dedicated life skills building with mentoring and advocacy, with funding from NDIS Capacity Building line item 09_008_0116_6_3. This is called Innovative Community Participation which is in the domain of increased social and community participation. Pending upcoming NDIS registration upgrade this item will be limited to plan managed and self managed participants.
Innovative Community Participation is a line item addressing “mainstream services that promote inclusion of people with disability to expand opportunities for community participation and employment”. This is what I have done for myself and will do to the fullest for the people I support. Costs are variable according to individual participant circumstances and need, to ensure the best possible affordable outcomes for each person.