Before I begin to write, I would like to reiterate that whilst the Future Leaders event of 2018 was run under the umbrella of the Autism CRC that these words and thoughts are my own.
For those who may stumble across this blog in your galavanting over the world wide web, let’s catch you up to speed. My name is Nichole and I am a 32 year old woman who is diagnosed with ASD / anxiety and identifies as a member of the LBGTIQ community.🏳️🌈 I moved to Brisbane in January 2018 because let’s face it, I was pretty much living here anyway. I am currently a student at the University of Wollongong where I study my Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies by Distance Education. 📚
When I applied for the Future Leaders Program I was extremely nervous, anxious and unsure of what to expect despite it being fully laid out before me. For me to fully understand something it takes full immersion in something before I am able to grasp the whole concept.
I was once again very nervous when I found out I was accepted. As the Future Leader’s Workshop (June 3-6, 2018) drew closer I became extremely nervous not only because I would be learning a huge amount of new skills but meeting new people. Out of the whole group inclusive of staff I had only previously met a few at past conferences.
I made the decision of staying at the hotel instead of home which was given as an option because I wanted to be fully immersed in everything. I want to learn all I can. On the day of arrival, I was met at the bus stop by one of the staff who thinking out of the box took a picture of herself at the bus stop and sent it to me. I was glad because no one looks like their headshot.
Over the next few days, I learnt many things but received as much value from the unplanned lessons as I did the planned:
I am accepted for me by those who matter
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a few quirks such as wearing no shoes despite having an extensive shoe collection, not feeling the cold on the bottom half of my body so I can look like I am going to the snow on top and still be in shorts and barefeet.
I talk a lot and rapidly when excited, when I know an answer in trivia my body literally looks like a light switch has turned on. I do have meltdowns but it is ok because those who matter don’t mind, I am no longer going to not stim such as rocking, hanging upside down, fiddling or chewing things because you are uncomfortable, I take medication and shouldn’t be ashamed and I love hugs.
Today is my first day out of Autistic space and I am already stressing and anxious. Be kind to everyone you do not know what they are going through.