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World Autism Awareness Week 2019

This week is World Autism Awareness Week. We're going to be sharing stories to raise awareness. Today we introduce you to Cathy.

My life with autism:

Friday - Ben's story

"I was diagnosed with autism at a young age and my parents was told that at an early age I was mentally retarded. This was hard on my parents as I didn’t see the world the same as others do. I struggled in a mainstream school and was bullied for being different.

I went to Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury and in a smaller group I managed to get 5 GCSEs that were graded D-G. However, it was going to Ruskin Mill that taught me being different was ok. I did things I thought I never could such as textiles, stained glass, iron age forge, paper making, soap making, sports science. It was the best time of my life after struggling to accept my learning disability.

After leaving Ruskin Mill, I went into supported living and now I live fully independent in Tewkesbury.  There was one thing I wanted to do and was told I couldn’t due to being different and that was to work. I was told it was better to stay on benefits, but this was not an option. I got my first paid job as a support worker for Mencap and then went full time at the National Star College and the enablement team for Gloucestershire County Council supporting people to be independent. I am now currently working for Forwards Employment as the Job Broker for Gloucester and Tewkesbury and supporting people with a learning disability find paid employment.

I want to inspire people with disabilities to prove they can work and that they shouldn’t let any barrier stop them. I am currently now just slowly starting up my own floristry business Sable’s Hidden Florist."

My life with autism:

Thursday - Cathy's story

"My name is Cathy Day and I’ve just completed Peer Lead Training with the Independence Trust.

I am currently involved with a Gardening Project at The Brownhills Centre, Cheltenham.

I have always felt that I don't "fit in". I find social situations difficult, too much information and too many choices are confusing for me and make me anxious. ASC (Autistic spectrum condition) affects me in most things that I do, shopping, driving, visiting unfamiliar places, meeting new people as I do not know how to interact and often misunderstand instructions and directions.

At work people didn't understand my sense of humour, and I often said what I thought, this would upset people. Also I found the lights and noise at work overwhelming, and did not want to join in conversations so I would often find a place to work on my own away from other people.

I avoid most social situations, and when I do decide to go out, I plan journeys, parking, who I am going with etc to avoid unnecessary anxiety.

I volunteer at the Gardening Project to feel supported, gain confidence and my goal is to return to work one day."

For more information on the disability network contact For more information on Gloucestershire’s position on Autism, visit 

My life with autism:

Wednesday - Sammy's story

"I first volunteered as a trainee teacher assistant at a local primary school arranged through work experience by Ruskin Mill. My first paid job was setting up the Quality Checking project at Gloucestershire Voices.  Quality Checking came out of the Winterbourne View incident, and we met with people in different settings to find out the quality of life and quality of care that people received.

Now, I work 12 hours a week at Inclusion Gloucestershire working as the admin for the engagement team. Easy read information along with simple and clear instructions, are very good ways of providing appropriate communication to help me to have the ability to work and show my skills. I also need time to process things and ask what things mean. Sometimes, it’s just a case of simplifying the way things are phased.

Work gives me a reason to get up. This might not seem important, but it gets me out of the house, engaging with other people and it gives me a sense of self-worth. It improves my mental health and ability to thrive and function, it helps prevent me from feeling down or lonely. It also plays a part in building and improving my independent skills.

I think work is important for everyone, and everyone has the ability to work. It takes the right support, reasonable adjustments, and the right way of communicating to help people work and show the skills that they have to offer."

For more information on the disability network contact For more information on Gloucestershire’s position on Autism, visit 


My life with autism:

Tuesday - Jessica's story

"I have been involved in autism acceptance and inclusion work within education and child care and in wider spaces, since college. My goal is to contribute towards the creation of a world where autistic people are truly free to be themselves and are accepted by all. I want to make the world a better, more accepting place for everyone.

Since joining Gloucestershire County Council as a National Management Trainee Graduate 6 months ago, I have had to adapt to a whole new environment and way of working. I struggled at first, but eventually began to find things that helped. For example, I ask my managers or colleagues to provide me with written instructions and actions when I am working on important tasks, as I may struggle to process a lot of verbal information in one go. I am also starting a new graduate role in education, and my managers have helped by letting me know where to go and what to expect on the first day.

Sensory experiences are also important for me. Sometimes, I’ll go out for lunch or for a walk so I don’t get too restless if I’ve just been at my desk most of the day. I also sometimes use fidget toys and fidget generally to manage my sensory experiences. Equally, if the office is ever too loud or crowded, I will work in Spires or Bearlands where I have more space to myself.

My journey since learning I was autistic at 14 has not been without its struggles and darker moments experiencing discrimination, but it has been incredible to begin to help others with autism to accept and love themselves, and to learn the same for myself."


Monday - Elliott's story

"When I was younger, I attended a special needs school called Betteridge. I enjoyed my time there but for a long time I did not know why I attended it instead of a mainstream school. It was only when I asked my mum why, did I find out I was autistic. I did not accept I was autistic until I went to Prospects, which is where I went after Betteridge.

At Prospects they get young people, such as myself, ready for the world of work. They also teach us English and Maths, which the highest level you can do is level 2. When I first went to Prospects they got me a work placement at the Wildlife Trust at Robinswood Hill and that was great fun. I am still at the Wildlife Trust to this day for one day a week. I am now working as a supported intern in the commissioning team at Gloucestershire County Council, which is going alright at the moment.

On the whole, autism hasn’t been much of a hindrance on my life. I’m like anyone else, I hardly recognise it myself. It’s only really when I am tired that I act more autistic.

And that’s my life with autism so far. I hope reading this inspires anyone with autism to open up about it and to see it’s nothing to be ashamed about." 


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