“To truly understand someone on the Autistic spectrum, I would ask you first to walk in our shoes, just for a moment, and try to understand us. I want you to know that it is not easy, to be ‘different’ in a world that values conformity, the grey zone between black and white. I want you to know that it takes us – my community – so much longer to get anywhere, to accomplish anything, due to prejudice, barriers, and generally ableist attitudes and biases. We are born double jumping two hoops to get to the same level as anyone else without our challenges. We are made to feel we are too much or too little, too stupid or too intense – when the truth is somewhere in the middle. Support is often lacking, especially if you are apparently only a little bit Autistic – and you have to live in the right area to get anywhere.
My diagnosis is Asperger’s Syndrome – because I was diagnosed the year it stopped being a diagnosis. However, this was because my assessor thought I would not get anywhere without it – but it does lead to unreasonable expectations being put on me. Prior to Assert, I was often turned away for support – because I wasn’t “bad enough”, “Autistic enough”. CAMHS gave me no support after diagnosis. I had to learn, solo. Which is impossible – and opens up your vulnerabilities.
To find Julia was the ‘eureka’ moment – and I could not believe my luck. Why? Here is someone who gets it! Who allows you to ask awkward, crazy, outlandish questions! Here is someone who takes time, makes time – and will always put you first. No one has done that for me before. And it should not be remarkable – but it is, due to the state of support services. As a former Autistic trainer, I have seen what good care can do – and it is transformative. And she allowed me to fly at my own pace, my own time.”
“Over the last 12 months, all the help and support I have received from my therapist led to my diagnosis and finding supports with Assert, which I am very grateful for. But I must say, I found a single session with Julia to help my mental state more than all the conversations with my therapist combined. It has been very helpful and is often the only positive event in my weeks.
I am a reserved person who generally dislikes social engagements, particularly this year, there are weeks I don’t speak to avoid people. If my sessions weren’t online, there is a good chance I wouldn’t have received the help or even attended some sessions. Not to mention time keeping as well. I require a few things to be in order prior to getting myself ready and presentable to avoid additional stress. One thing going wrong can start a domino effect on anxiety. There are days when I simply can not go outside, sometime not even leave my bed, on these days I would never have attended a session no matter how good I found them. But being over Skype, I found myself able to attend sessions I otherwise could not.
One-to-one support is almost necessary for me, there is no way I would have opened up and come to the same epiphanies in the regular group session as I’d be too self conscious and focused on others. So having Skype sessions due to Covid I think has worked in my favor and would recommend having them as an option always available in the future.
Based on my experience with Julia Martinez, I rate the service 10/10.”
“My experience of Life Skills has been positive. The group has been one of the highlights of my week, a place where I feel at home and can talk openly about the things I struggle with.
I’ve found the course beneficial, although perhaps not primarily for the intended reason. I’m new to the autistic community and in retrospect I didn’t need help in some of the areas covered, but it’s been a great benefit to my mood and mental health in general to share common experiences with the other attendees and I feel less alone as a result.
My favourite element of the course has been the welcoming and friendly nature of the group. I feel at ease here, which has been wonderful because whilst I crave human contact I often find it very stressful.”
Some more feedback from students
“Having the space and time to explore this topic with such a skilled facilitator is very helpful. Thanks Julia!”
“Talking about what upsets me and realising how much I’ve improved over time gave me hope.”
“Learnt new ideas and perspectives and being asked questions I wouldn’t have asked myself and the emotional advice and support.”
“I have put some of the skills learned during the course into use in real life situations and have been pleased to see that they really work.”
“It’s through coming to these courses that has made me feel more confident.”
– All Anonymous