“A large amount of my work is about information, advice and advocacy so that people and services understand the needs of people with learning disabilities.”
Sam is doing lots of work to help make the world a more welcoming and inclusive place for people with learning disabilities and autism.
He has Asperger’s syndrome so his work comes with its own challenges. His Asperger’s means his senses can be overly sensitive, and winding down to sleep at the end of a busy day can be a real struggle. Sam finds open plan offices give him regular headaches and processing and concentrating on information can be tiring and stressful.
But he battles through these barriers and has a wealth of experience. Let’s see what he’s been doing…
Sam has been an Expert by Experience with Hertfordshire Council for just over three years now. A full time position, it keeps him busy with a wide variety of work.
Sam regularly makes, reviews and supports the development of easy read information.
“I want to help people, and enjoy helping people, for lots of reasons. But mainly to ensure that people with Asperger’s, autism and learning disabilities have the same rights as people without disabilities.”
He helps make sure information is accessible and advises his colleagues on how they can take those extra steps that can make all the difference.
Improving access to healthcare
It’s a sad fact that people with learning disabilities die earlier than people without disabilities.
Sam doesn’t think this is fair either. This is why he is doing so much to try and change things.
He’s part of the local Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDer) steering group. Their work improves the lives of people not just living locally, but nationally too.
He has also worked with the Purple Star Strategy Team and other Experts by Experience to scope and look at health care providers. His expert advice helps the health services (such as doctors) be more inclusive, make the right reasonable adjustments for their patients and gives them access to training.
These steps can help make sure people with learning disabilities and autism are getting the right healthcare in their communities.
Making sports and leisure more accessible
He’s even turned his hobby into a mission for change.
Sam has been on the committee in two different roles for a charity that puts on leisure and support activities for people with learning disabilities and autism.
Sam served as a trustee and Vice Chairman, he represented their members and made sure that they were listened to at all levels of the charity.
He is also a player for the Letchworth Garden City rugby team; Braveherts (the mixed ability side within the club). This hobby has seen him as team captain; giving talks to people about his role and why it’s important for people with autism and learning disabilities to be active in their community.
Sam recently attended the first International Mixed Ability Sports Award Scheme where he gave a speech to a captive audience (including some MPs) about the benefits of playing rugby. The audience feedback was brilliant:
“Fantastic input from Sam about the benefits of participating in mixed ability sports. Challenging preconceptions, change the world!”
It’s clear Sam is passionate about equal rights, and takes every opportunity he can to advocate with, and for, people about learning disabilities and autism.