Hear my voice | “Change needs to happen”

To round off Autism Awareness Week, we wanted to share a further blog from a young person who has worked with us before. Bradley was one of the participants who helped with our YEAH! project and shared his story of living with Asperger’s syndrome, and why he feels raising awareness and understanding of learning disabilities is so important.

“Learning disabilities is a subject that many people will very often shy away from as it is a subject people often don’t know very much about. You may not be able to spot someone who has a learning disability, so it is of the upmost importance that everyone is able to access information about learning disabilities.

I think schools need to show more awareness and understanding to those with learning disabilities for everyone to feel, and be, treated equally. During my school time I have struggled due to others not understanding my needs. More training for staff and informational talks given to other students in the school would show a willingness to understand, and show those with learning disabilities compassion. I feel compassion, knowledge and understanding of learning disabilities is not focused on enough and it needs more publicity to encourage others to support and get involved.

Having a learning disability can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress. There are challenges every day and this can lead to frustration. This is very noticeable among school children especially in secondary school as other students may not understand.

Growing up and going through school would be an experience you look back on in later life and say ‘well actually my school life was relatively good’, but that is not the case for me at all. I was very lonely at school. I had help from teaching assistants which was good, but it does make you stand out as different, and this shows that more needs to be done to tell others about learning disabilities.

I have struggled in my life, at times, but thankfully I have a fantastic family who are always there to help and support me. This has, in a way, helped me survive and become the person I am today. My mum especially has fought to make others aware continually. I have achieved more than I ever thought possible and that’s why we need to make awareness of learning disabilities a priority. In life it is very important never to give up as everyone is special.

Talking is such a great place to start as it is critical to ensure more is known about learning disabilities, so that everyone can understand and spread the knowledge they learn. Transforming people’s views about learning disabilities, for example showing that everyone has the ability to be sociable, is crucial.

I know through my own experiences of my Asperger’s syndrome that I do have social problems along with learning problems, and this has caused me problems in my life. I have at times felt worthless, frustrated, and that people just don’t understand me, but people don’t have the knowledge to understand me.  Change needs to happen. People should know that if you have a learning disability, you are still a person like them, and I have the right not to be bullied.

I was bullied badly during my teenage years: pushed down the stairs, knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured elbow. Others in school would say I was not normal, but you have to ask the question ’What is normal?’

I attended the NCS course (which became Healthwatch Essex’s YEAH! Project) for three weeks. It helped me to see that not all people will judge you. I attended this after a few bad years at school and it showed me there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Transformation of people’s attitudes is vital to improving understanding of learning disabilities and how these can affect people. This is the way forward. In life people fear what they don’t understand or know about, so now is the time for change.”

– Bradley