As with many people with autism, 20-something James was once labelled as being ‘challenging and aggressive’ because the services and environments he experienced did not meet his needs. James talks about having had lots of anxiety.
His autism, his sensory feelings and his emotions were not addressed or supported. This lack of awareness and training would trigger James’ behaviour.
Hops Not Hate
Using that lived experience, James now challenges social stereotypes in many ways.
For example, he’s created his own uniquely flavoured mango craft beer (featuring a picture of himself on the front!) to bring national focus on hate crimes directed at people with autism and disabilities.
James’ gift is his ability to use his insight into autism to help others understand autistic people better. He volunteers with ‘Treat Me Right’, a campaign run by Certitude to educate multi-disciplinary teams of health professionals in how to work effectively with people with autism and learning disabilities.
James creates training videos entitled ‘ A day in the life of … ‘ and regularly sends blogs to local Councillors about the need to sustain easy read documentation for people. Last year James even volunteered to create an autism friendly website for the London Transport Museum.
It’s not all work, work, work!
In his spare time, James is a mascot. He dresses up as various animal and cartoon characters to raise funds for community projects, and provides entertainment at children’s parties.
He’s recently made contact with Great Ormond Street hospital to volunteer to bring happiness to the sick small children on the wards of the hospital.
James has come far in his own life, from being viewed as challenging to educating and supporting others. He is making a real difference and is a worthy winner of a place on the Leaders List.