Did you know April is Autism Awareness Month? This month, Alex, one of our wonderful Youth Facilitators, spoke to Shawn Avery about living on the Autism Spectrum. Shawn has been a speaker for YouthSpeak for nine years and is such an inspiration! Shawn experiencing anxiety and bullying through his school years has allowed him to become a wonderful speaker today.
Both Shawn and Alex identify as leaning more towards high functioning Autism. While it is different for everyone, they both struggled with social cues growing up, and now believe that having a daily routine has been an extremely helpful coping tool for living on the spectrum. For Shawn, going for runs and participating in crossfit has helped his mental health and his daily routine. Further, Shawn’s anxiety causes him to overthink a lot and keeps him up at night; in regards to depression, similarly to Alex, he finds it comes in waves. Having a daily routine, including his daily exercise mindfulness exercises, such as breathing.
Shawn defines the Autism Spectrum as always being unique, thanks to being creative while living on the Autism Spectrum. Further, being a force of positive energy with his contagious smile. In reference to positive aspects of living on the Autism spectrum, Shawn mentions that he is constantly surprising himself and others who cannot believe that he is able to do certain jobs and activities very well. Shawn and Alex’s life journeys can show that people who live on the Autism Spectrum live ‘normal lives’ such as, getting their licenses, buying a house, and having a job.
Shawn acknowledges that his support system was great over the years, especially when he was first diagnosed. Aspergers Society of Ontario (ASO), is another organization Shawn is proudly a part of as one of the Board Directors. The ASO helps those living on the Autism Spectrum find jobs and have recently started a peer support group. Shawn also mentions the organization, Community Living, as a great resource. Lastly, TedTalks and YouTube are great online resources to learn more about the Autism Spectrum.
Shawn hopes that anyone watching the podcast takes away that people on the Autism Spectrum are passionate, caring, and empathic.
At YouthSpeak, we share one-on-one conversations from our youth speakers on their journey through topics on mental health and wellness. These are their personal stories and ways they’ve overcome various obstacles in their lives. We want to help youth find their voices and empower themselves through the power of their narrative! To watch the whole podcast, check out our YouTube channel ‘YouthSpeak Performance Charity’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li5XWSVEIdE&t=749s
YouthSpeak is a charity organization based in the GTA, Canada that conducts assemblies and interactive workshops to help increase the resiliency of youth facing challenges today. To find out more about our projects and initiatives visit our website. Help support our For-Youth-by-Youth projects by donating at: https://youthspeak.ca/ or https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/i-support-youthspeak/