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Following My Dreams as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

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Being an adult on the autistic spectrum can be either straightforward, wonderful or challenging! Hello, I am Murray and I have autism. Autism affects so many people in so many different ways. Some adults never change and stick to their hobbies, obsessions, routines etc. so they still face the same difficulties they have faced all throughout their lives. Others change, for either good or bad. My late teenage/early adult life has been a path of many  difficult challenges such as my parents splitting up, my mum moving abroad and my dad’s death. Some people, especially those on the spectrum can be affected for life after experiencing all of these things, but for me, having gone through these experiences has made me stronger and forced me to grow up.

There was a time when I was happy to just be in my own world, stick to my routines, and play outside in the garden on my own reenacting my own versions of “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings,” and not caring at all where I would end up in the future. Now here we are, 12 years later! So much has changed. I am 25 years old, live independently in my own flat in Edinburgh and have been living alone for the past three years. This year has not been easy for me, despite me starting up one of my greatest achievements ever, which is “Autism on the Water,” an awareness campaign to raise awareness of autism through sailing. However, even though this takes up a lot of my time, I still have no idea where my life is going to lead.

For the last three years, I have been trying hard to pursue an entry to university and study for a degree. I feel like when my Dad died etc. I missed trying to experience the student life. As my school for autism never gave me any formal qualifications, I had nothing appropriate to gain entry. Therefore, three years ago, I started the Credit for Entry program, an access course to help get the grades for university. The course may not have got me to where I want to be, but it has given me very valuable experience such as essay writing. I will be honest though, when I got an email for the second time saying my application for university had been unsuccessful, my whole world went dark.

I was not me anymore. I felt like nothing was worth even living for. I locked myself in my house, closed my curtains and pushed everyone away from me. I eventually went out to try and meet one of my friends, but I just couldn’t do it. Eventually it took a stranger sitting on the Meadows to make me realize there was more to life then university or good grades. Thanks to her, I set out to make myself better. I did more happy things and got involved with my local autism drop in center called Number 6.

Recently, however, was the worst I had ever felt. I signed myself up for a full time course at Edinburgh College to do computing with digital media. I thought it could be the start of a new beginning for me, but from the moment I started, I felt so sad. I could not fit in with the course, the students or any of it. I tried and tried to give it a chance, but by the second week, I made my decision. I was going to leave, and so I did. I wrote a blog about my experience and was terrified people would think badly of me for leaving early, but I was so touched by the incredibly kind words from some very dear friends. The whole period of trying to decide was so difficult, I started to feel suicidal. Thankfully, a good friend convinced me to seek the help I needed.

Now I am in a much better place. I have returned to the Credit for Entry at the University of Edinburgh studying a short course in Journalism, and I am loving every second of it. I am also very excited to be spending a month away in Hong Kong in January to volunteer for the Volvo Ocean Yacht Race. I hope it will give me a chance to network and make contacts for possible job opportunities. I am so lucky to be influenced by a great and wonderful family as well as some amazing friends.

After speaking to a few adults on the spectrum recently who were saying life is worthless, I need to raise awareness that life is worth living. I believe you can make a life for yourself, follow your dreams and be happy. But keep your friends and family close to you, because without my best friends especially, I would not be here. So be happy, dream and make it happen. Autism is wonderful!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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Photo provided by contributor.

Originally published: January 29, 2018
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