04 Mar 2020

The role of spokesperson

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Giving lectures Most people today have heard the word autism. Many people only know autism from TV or from the news. Or maybe used as a horror image by people who promote pseudoscience. Gradually people also know autism from their own environment; colleagues, friends or family who have been diagnosed. Still, there is not much familiarity among people about what autism is or what influence it has on people diagnosed with it.

That is why providing information about autism is important to do. Fortunately, there are organisations in the Netherlands that deal with this. For example the NVA and the various autism networks in the Netherlands such as the Autisme Netwerk Friesland.

My role as spokesman

Since I started blogging last summer I notice that people often recognize my stories and appreciate what I’m doing here. Partly for this reason I have decided to take this to the next level; I want to take the role of spokesperson seriously. That’s why I recently joined the Autisme Netwerk Friesland and started to expand my network. I have also made it known that I am available to, for example, give a lecture about autism at an organisation.

Now it so happens that within my network I have been given the opportunity to give a lecture on autism at the Windesheim in Zwolle. There next Friday, March 13th, I will do my bit to spread understanding for autism. Of course understanding alone is not enough, the ultimate goal is acceptance of neurodiversity in our society. However, every journey begins with the first step, and this is mine on this road.

Speaking about autism

Of course I can tell people a lot about autism. After all, I’m talking about it myself and blog about it here as well. However, it is my autism. Now I read enough about autism through all kinds of channels, but I’m not a scientist. What I am, however, is an experience expert as they so beautifully call it.

By giving information about how I experience the world, what my pain points are and what can be done to alleviate them, I think I can do very useful work. Speaking about autism is understandable enough not to be done by every autistic person. But it seems to me a lot of fun to do.

By telling people about autism and what it is like for an autistic person like me to live in this world, I hope to gain more understanding. And ultimately more acceptance of neurodiversity. I also want to challenge the rhetoric that creates a very negative image about neurodiversity and autism in particular.

In the future I hope to get more opportunities to speak for groups about neurodiversity and autism. In my opinion it is important work to do. How can anyone know that they are hurting an autistic person if they don’t know anything about autism? That’s one of the problems I want to solve with these kinds of lectures.

Neurodiversity logo

Neurodiversity as a spearhead

Although I mainly talk about autism, because I am an autistic person after all, I want to draw more attention to neurodiversity. Especially when it concerns people who, in their daily life, or in their work, have to deal with neurodiverse people like me.

I will certainly not let the word autism lapse, I just want to indicate that the “problem” is broader than autism alone. We live in a country where we are free to be who we want to be. People are free to be religious, to arrange their lives the way they want to be and so on, as long as they don’t harm anyone. It is time that we see that there is a population group that has been put away as “sick”, “unstable” or “ moronic” for years. However, we are different from the neurotypical human being, that doesn’t make us any less. Nor does it make us any more, by the way. We are ordinary people who want to live our lives…

Lectures in the future

For the time being, the upcoming lecture at the Windesheim in Zwolle is the only one in my diary. It’s also the first time I’m going to speak for a group of people about autism, although I’ve stood for groups before. But I am certainly open to other opportunities to come and talk about autism and neurodiversity. Via my contact page you can submit possibilities for this. Of course you can also contact me via the different social media channels (links below).

I am very enthusiastic about working towards the role of educator. Last summer I started this blog and noticed that I really enjoy doing this. So it’s time to take the next step. As I once heard; “You have to do what makes you happy” and this is what makes me happy. Telling people about autism and neurodiversity.

Maybe there’ll come a time when I’ll give a public lecture in your neighborhood. Who knows? But for now, I’m concentrating on next week’s lecture.

Thanks for reading
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Tags: autisme begrip neurodiversiteit lezingen voorlichting 
Picture of the author David Westerink
David Westerink
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I am David, born in 1984 and I'm autistic. I write blog posts and advocate for autism acceptance. I'm willing to talk to anyone about anything.

I have my own podcast (in Dutch) about autism and neurodiversity! Checkout the AutCast!

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