News | 26/02/2024

My journey with Autism and the mission at Step by Step

Posted by James Dempster

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that affects around 700,000 people in the UK. It encompasses a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. The scale of ASD is vast, with each individual’s experience being profoundly different.

From a young age, I navigated through life feeling out of step with those around me. My behavioural issues, particularly evident at school, were not just childhood quirks but early signs of a deeper, underlying condition. It was a challenging time, marked by confusion and frustration, not only for me but for those around me who were equally puzzled by my actions.

Seeking a diagnosis was not about finding a label but about understanding myself. It was about unlocking the door to a community and resources that could help me navigate my world more effectively. Being diagnosed with ASD was both a revelation and a relief. It gave context to my experiences, helping me make sense of why I felt and acted the way I did. It wasn’t an end to the challenges but the beginning of a journey towards self-acceptance and adaptation.

Living with autism is an ongoing process of learning and adjusting. It means facing social, communication, and sensory challenges head-on. It means sometimes feeling overwhelmed in environments that others might find stimulating or engaging. But it also means having a unique perspective on the world, seeing beauty where others might not, and developing innovative solutions to problems.

This personal journey led me to my role at Step by Step School, an institution that recognises the individuality of each child with autism. My experiences underscore the importance of tailored support and education that Step by Step provides. Autism manifests differently in everyone; what works as a support mechanism for one individual might not for another. This variability is why the school’s mission is so vital. It acknowledges each child’s unique needs and potential, striving to unlock it in the most effective way possible.

My involvement with Step by Step School is more than a role; it’s a commitment to advocate for those on the spectrum. It’s about pushing for recognition and opportunities for individuals with autism. Because everyone, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum, deserves to have their strengths acknowledged and their needs supported.

As we continue to support and advocate for individuals with ASD, let’s remember the importance of providing opportunities for everyone to succeed. Step by Step School is a beacon of hope in this journey, and I am honoured to be part of its mission. Together, we can make a difference, one step at a time.