Hello, this is Jordan . I’m 19 years old, live in Ardrossan and I am autistic. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 3. It affects my daily lifestyle in many ways. I also am the author of “JUST Jordan”, a newsletter that I write monthly about topics that affect me as an autistic person. I am passionate about raising awareness about autism, so much so I have won two awards for my voluntary work at the National Autistic Society.
When I was at school, I always felt the need to tell everyone I met, my classmates, about the fact I am autistic because I felt like sharing my diagnosis so that everyone knew why I acted differently from other people. Their reaction was mostly that they didn’t know what autism was so I explained it to them, in the most simple way I could. I guess you could say I got the odd inclusion from then on. However, it was probably harder to explain autism to my teachers because they would have to find out my needs for the classroom, schoolwork and other things like that. But there was one teacher from secondary school who completely understood me. He was my guidance teacher who would come to help me if need be, for example: helping me with social skills.
At secondary school, my favourite subjects were Art and Design (I was and still am pretty artistic as you will see from my newsletter), Games Development (gaming is one of my favorite things to do and I wanted to learn more about how to make one) and Maths (I am quite bright and was really good at Maths). Another hobby of mine is to go out for a drive in my car since I passed my driving test last year and now I can go visit my friends whenever I please. I am also very much into helping my mother organize fundraising events for the National Autistic Society and Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust, both charities that mean a lot to us.
When I was still in school, I didn’t really feel a lot of social pressure because I usually went to a room where pupils with learning difficulties or anything similar would socialize in the school break and lunch time. It was called the “Social Base” and this is where I found my best friends and we have remained friends ever since. As a result, I never really experienced my personal struggles, which are noise and the smell of certain things. I think social bases in schools really help pupils fit in, make new friends and help with communication skills. However, I eventually got the confidence to leave the “Social Base” to socialize with other pupils but ended up just watching people socializing around me instead of getting involved myself.
School wasn’t exactly all sunshine as I did have to confront bullies. If school life could be made better for young people with autism in one way, it would have to be how to deal with bullies. Bullies would need to understand how they upset others from the victim’s point of view and would need to be educated that others are different in their own way and that they should not be criticised on their differences. If they are curious about someone, then the bullies should ask an appropriate question which doesn’t offend the other person.
At least the big move from primary to secondary school was not a problem for me as everything was well planned, for example the bus routes from my house to school were already in place as was the introductory tour of the school, in which we experienced a full week of secondary school with our future classmates and teachers. I also got all of my new school supplies and uniform. Also, the headteacher from the secondary school came to explain what it would be like there.
Now that I have graduated from school and passed my exams, I spend my time by doing voluntary work as a young campaigner, also at the One Stop Shop where I supervise group activities, and doing admin at the local radio station 3TFM.
What I am most proud of though is my newsletter JUST Jordan, which you can read here.