“Prior to coming to Assert, I had been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. That was it – I was basically given no support, no follow up. I was discriminated against often in education, told I’d never amount to anything, but that I would have to help myself out, work hard. Ostensibly, because I was not a ‘true disabled’, or ‘too high functioning’ (ugh), I would never be able to have any kind of financial aid.
Coming to Assert was something of a revelation. For the first time in my life, I was given worthwhile support – and support that did not make me feel stupid, patronised. I was talked to by everyone – not my mother, because everyone pities the parent for having an Autistic child. Why, I do not know.
Lifeskills originally suggested I would be eligible for support via the Benefits system here in the UK. I was skeptical, processing only just then that I will always have challenges. I was even a bit snobbish about it – because why would someone like me take a handout? My family are also extremely anti-state help.
Working with Alex has been like an antidote I have been after for many years. I have felt trapped, unable to essentially function – because I have been told I am not ‘Autistic enough’ for many years. But how can I take care of myself, eventually, without help? And this cycle would go round and around and around. Alex is clear, concise, and does not make me feel like an idiot. She also talks to me – whereas other medical professionals and support workers talk to my mother, through me. I have been taught to ‘game the system’ – to advocate for myself, in better words, to be given support in case of qualms.
PIP has been a bit of a nightmare. I knew it was a byzantine system, through my work as a journalist – but had no experience. My assessor lied about me, despite there being a witness – apparently I don’t experience meltdowns, don’t wear (very) strong glasses, travel solo with no help. Alex had prepared me for the long route to support – because expecting the future causes me stress. She actually ‘got it’ – and it has been wonderful. “
“The Assert benefits services enabled me to manage a very stressful Universal Credit assessment process. Due to Alex’s help, I was put into the LWCRA group without needing to attend a face-to-face assessment, which would have been extremely difficult, as I have only recently been diagnosed with ASC and had a lot of de-personalisation during lockdown, as I was by myself. I now have a budget that means I can buy some noise cancelling headphones and other things that might help with my Autism. I can pay for a weekly cleaner, as I have had an autistic burnout, with some mobility issues. I will also not be required to seek work from the job centre, whilst I get used to my diagnosis and I can think about what might be suitable long-term around my autism. I feel the specific guidance on how to get my health professionals to draft their letters meant that I got the award without having to attend assessment. I am very grateful for this service, which was done via zoom and emails, with a lot of empathy, clarity and respect at a time when I was feeling very vulnerable and powerless.”