Monday, 30 September 2013

Robyn Steward NAS Ambassador for Aspergers

Today I was privileged to hear NAS ambassador Robyn Steward talk about Aspergers. At the age of twenty seven she is working with the NAS to spread awareness of the condition.In her own imitable style (she wore a purple trilby and purple dock martins) she explained that she learned to tie her shoe laces at the age of 21 after seeing a pair of yellow dock martins which she really. really wanted. Motivation was the key.

I asked her whether she felt it worked better for her to be self employed rather than working for a company with structure and expectations and she said without doubt as she was 'a pain in the backside' and difficult to work with, The thing that struck me was that she understood herself and also how difficult it could be for NT people to work with and understand her. One of her coping strategies when she felt stressed was to ring her parents. Luckily, she said, she had two so that when she got too much for one, they could pass the phone to the other!

Robyn had a real sense of humour and her straight talking, honest way of speaking was refreshing. When asked for advice about what to do when a certain child became 'mad' her first comment was 'I assume by mad you mean angry'. She had learned her limitations with regard to understanding language and had asked for clarification to check she understood,

I was encouraged that here was a young person with the same condition as my son living independently with support of three hours a week because,she admitted, she was a 'hoarder' and very messy.

Despite a difficult time at school (she was finally kicked out), then being sexually abused by a trusted professional (in her late teens) because of her difficulty with soctal cues (Discussing bananas and hob nobs in a sex education class at school simply isn't enough for autistic pupils who need to hear it directly and factually without embarrassment),she was not afraid to speak out in order to help others who were unable to speak for themselves

For those who haven't met her Robyn has a  website and she is well worth listening to!

Thank you Robyn and good luck with the tour!

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