Thank you for listening

It has been a week since my presentation and it still feels so surreal, even more so now that I’m back to my humdrum routine. I have attended many conferences but never did I think I would be addressing myself to the public one day. The whole experience has been humbling, it didn’t matter that only six turned up for my break-out session, I felt sorry for them they had to sit through a 30 minutes talk from someone who was anxious and inexperienced, even inarticulate at times. However, each and everyone of them has been so encouraging and supportive, I didn’t think I deserve their kindness. I lacked the confidence and composure the other presenters possess but rather than adopting another persona, I confessed my anxieties, this was a mental health conference after all. I was ill-prepared and reading from script, at times I didn’t even know if I was making sense but still, they listened patiently to every word I said. And for the first time in my life, I feel empowered. I don’t see myself as an autism advocate, I was just there to represent myself, speaking in my personal capacity, and that in itself, was liberating. I was there to talk about stigma and the long-term negative impact of a deficit view of autism. And the heartwarming response I received at the end goes to show that a little kindness and encouragement can go a long way, which provides the further reason why we should stop viewing autism through an entirely deficit lens and work on building the strengths and self-esteem of the individual.

So what’s next? I’m not sure. It seems I’m back to where I was. Yes, I could do more but it comes down to the fact that I struggle to find time and energy to work on this personal project after my day-time job, and I’m miserable at work because I’m not doing something of my interest. I was recently looking at the Autistica website and they were inviting autistic researchers to apply for a grant to help them kick-start a career in research. This is the type of opportunity I am looking for. Unfortunately, the funding is only available to UK residents. So it seems I’m still back to square one. Even so, I have no regrets for making this trip and I’m indebted to everyone for your kind support. And to the six of them who were at my presentation, if you happen to read this, my heartfelt thanks to you. ❤

The Hounds 4 Healing is a not for profit organisation that helps to pair up suitable canine with veterans who would benefit from having an assistance dog. I’m so glad they were there at the conference to ease my anxiety!

17 thoughts on “Thank you for listening

  1. Congratulations on the talk! Public speaking (even when the public is only six people) can be scary, but exhilarating. It sounds like it went well. When’s your next gig? Har har. Actually I’m only half kidding. Enjoy your success, but at some point you may start to wish it were a regular part of your life. 😊👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are spot on!!! It is exhilarating, a bit like tattoos, you want more. Right now, I’m paying out of my own pocket to attend these conferences. I would call it a success when I get paid to attend conferences and present lol 😂 That aside, I was grateful for this opportunity, it was a good experience. And you are right, there is something empowering about having a voice, when you stand up for your rights and speak for yourself, this is something money can’t buy and all the more why we should give voice to the marginalised people. You are an inspiration to me too! Thanks, my friend 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. More power to you for getting up there and delivering your talk! That takes guts – moreso because you’re speaking from a personal perspective rather than just delivering research and, in doing so, you’re opening yourself up. I have spoken to colleagues in staff meetings and professional learning about my experiences with Geordie – particularly early on – and I remember getting incredibly emotional and thinking I wasn’t making any sense at all and why would people want to listen to me anyway?? But you do make sense – and they do want to listen. Those six people that attended are lucky … I wish I was there (we were in Italy at the time though). Good on you – and thank you for writing about it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Kellie! This means so much to me. I never received so much encouragement before in my life, I know it would take a long time to repair my damaged self-image but people like you give me the confidence and courage! Thanks also for sharing your experience, I never thought about this but you are probably right, they did listen and I’m grateful for that. I hope you have a good time in Italy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s absolutely wonderful! I’m so happy it went so well. Speaking in front of people is a challenge no matter how many there are. I’m so pleased they were all so kind and encouraging to you. It gives me hope. I was thinking about you while you were away. Oh, and the dogs! The perfect anxiety busters. I think I could manage anything if I could take my ellie with me everywhere 😊❤️

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, she’s my sweet girl. Ellie is a catahoula Labrador mix at a sturdy 100 pounds. As sweet as she can be. ❤️ Thank you so very much! I so appreciate your kind wishes, especially this week. I don’t think I’m on the autism spectrum but gosh so often I relate to what you write, like your poem this morning. You take care and have a wonderful week too 😊❤️

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks Suzanne, before I go to bed, here’s one of Charlie, the labrador winking 😉
        I took this just minutes before my presentation, I hope it makes your day better too. Good morning, good afternoon & good night! 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

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