Finding my voice and knowing my worth

I’m proud to be a Dimensions Quality Consultant and Council member where I speak up for myself and others. When people meet me they say I’m, fun, friendly, honest and absolutely serious about social injustice. When I check people’s homes to make sure Dimensions are helping them to be happy and safe, people trust me and open up. So it’s difficult for people to get time with me as I’m in such demand.

Matt Lester, Dimensions Quality Consultant and Council member
Matt Lester, Dimensions Quality Consultant and Council member

My listening skills and drive to work hard, to challenge perceptions have come from a resilience I’ve shown all my life. I was bullied at every stage of school until it forced me to leave college. I’ve been called every nasty name you can think of, like big head, lazy eyes, frog eyes and even retard. I hesitate to repeat the last word because it’s so awful. At primary school I found little support so had to stand up for myself which got me into trouble. When nothing happens after you tell a teacher, you learn not to bother telling them.

A new start at secondary school was promising. With just autistic boys, I felt that people should understand me and I here learned about myself and how to be a man. Knowing about my strengths helped me feel proud and trust myself, but I still had to fend for myself against bullies. At 16 I felt that I was finally old enough to deal with it.

College was an epic fail. It became too much and I dropped out and suffered a breakdown. I had absorbed all the hate all my life but there’s only so much a person can go through.

Being a volunteer at Dimensions Council and a paid Quality Consultant has given me so many opportunities. I now travel, learn meeting etiquette, work on projects and in groups and receive lots of positive praise for the work I do. I’m confident in different social circles and happy with banter, but if people say something hurtful I will take days to recover. People don’t see this impact.

It’s also why I won’t be taking a day off any time soon. I work hard to tell people about me and why people with learning disabilities and autistic people should be in every conversation. At this time of year when the days are dark I find that this work helps me get through every day. I’m loved, I’m a good friend and have a great group of family and friends who saved my life.

Now I take every opportunity to rebuild my life and hope my story will inspire people like me who are at school and trying to find their own voice. My message to you is know your own worth and be proud.