I initially became involved in the ‘we all matter eh?’ campaign when I was invited to record a video about Asperger’s syndrome and how the condition impacts on my day-to-day life. I had taken the decision to ‘go public’ with my diagnosis a few months earlier, so making the video very much fitted in with my wish to share my experiences and try and raise awareness of autism.
Giving me a voice
I would not feel able to stand up in front of a group and talk, so the video is a means for me to share my personal experiences with an ‘audience’ (and no doubt a much wider one than I could ever reach in person) without having to deal with the anxiety that public speaking would cause for me. I never been involved in any kind of campaign before, partly because I felt that doing so would be too challenging due to my social and sensory issues. Being part of the ‘we all matter eh?’ campaign has given me a sense of purpose, and the feeling that I am making a contribution to something that is going to make a difference to many people in our community – not only those with disabilities, but everyone. At some time or another we are all going to come into contact with someone who has some form of disability (hidden or more visible), and if the community generally has a better level of understanding and acceptance, that will be good for everyone.
In addition to my own video, I have also been involved in transcribing a number of other ‘we all matter eh?’ videos in preparation for the subtitling process. I am no longer working, but have audio-typing skills so this has been an ideal way for me to make good use of those skills. I have been privileged to hear other people’s stories and to learn from them. I’ve
found that I often relate to many of the challenges other people face, even though their disability is very different from my own. What has come through strongly on all the videos I’ve watched are the unique challenges of living with a hidden disability, namely the fact that there is nothing to immediately indicate to others that you might be struggling with something. That has resulted in a sense of connection for me, and feeling that I am not alone in the kinds of day-to-day challenges I deal with.
Being involved with this campaign, and in different ways, has given me a sense of pride, empowerment, and the feeling of being part of something special. I’ve been able to get involved in ways that work for me and do not result in stress or anxiety. It also gave me the confidence to attend a GDA meeting for the very first time.
Perhaps the most exciting thing I’ve learnt is that, while disabilities are often referred to as ‘differences’, the challenges that individuals face are often surprisingly similar in many ways.