Life on the Autism spectrum

Paul I

Male
Age at interview: 29

Brief outline: Paul had developmental delay as a child, and was diagnosed with an array personality disorders before he received his autism diagnosis at the age of 21. He is currently working at a support organisation, where he gives talks about life on the autism spectrum.

Background: Ethnic background: White British

Audio & video

Paul was born in 1986 due to a difficult birth, jaundice and placental abruption he had severe developmental delays in speech, language and motor coordination his Mum thought he was "deaf and blind" as a child and considered him to be solely brain damaged.

Paul was branded as a “naughty child” at school. He was classically autistic in his early years and gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through mainstream school with no additional help or recognition of his autism. Consequently, he did not achieve his academic or his social potential and had very low self-esteem.

After a string of unsuccessful jobs, Paul’s mental health suffered. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality” which did not satisfy him. Paul was later diagnosed by an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with High Functioning Autism at 24 years old.

Paul wanted to promote autism awareness and help others on the autism spectrum, in the hope that others would not have to suffer as he had. He became a speaker for an autism organisation and has not looked back.

Presenting speeches, training and conducting consultancy, Paul is now freelance and continues to raise the profile of autism at every opportunity. Having done a lot of research, he is keen to explain the differences between Asperger’s Syndrome & Autism and show that autism is not "one thing" using Autism Consultant Donna William's (Polly Samuel's) ‘Fruit Salad’ model.

Paul firmly believes in retaining the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) acronym. He says there should not be a negative stigma around the word ‘disorder’. His message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability and every person with autism (and all people) should be a valued member of society.

Currently Paul not only does freelance autism work but also works as an in-house autism consultant for a small autism organisation. In his free time, he enjoys writing poetry, drawing, going for walks and going out with friends.

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