suzefricker@mylifeaccordingtome.org Available all the time, just send me an email and I will get back to you.

Autism and surprise

Well, as we all know, Autistic people are not very good with sudden change. That is why this one particular autistic person feels the need to say this as it was a good surprise I got. On Wednesday I went to go and see Giovanni Pernice, which I have already had a slew of people telling me “your autistic, you can’t do that” so please no one who reads this please say it to me as I will honestly find a way to block you.

The surprise came when during the intermission, I went to get a picture with one of the Strictly stars who had been on this current season who I thought was soooo amazing and I loved watching him with his professional dancer Janette Manrara. Can you guess who I am talking about? Obviously, Dr Ranj.

I was getting very overwhelmed and was almost at full meltdown mode when I got to him. I asked if I could take a picture with him and started to cry. Embarrassed by it, I told him I was autistic and that I was getting overwhelmed. He took me to one side, ( a quiet space) and stayed with me and talked about dancing and what I liked and stayed with me while I calmed down. I had explained to me that I was diagnosed last year and that I was still learning how to cope which was hard for me. I then fretted that I got a picture with him and my friend who was with me didn’t… He came back in with me when the intermission was over and went to my friend just so she could get a picture with him as well.

This was a surprise to me as I have been having meltdowns at least once a week and have had varying reactions. The good ones came from very different places. He did not have to help me. He did not have to stay with me. He certainly did not have to make sure my friend got a picture with him as well and yet, this celebrity, who I have adored watching on telly took the time to make sure I was ok. He made sure that I was able to go back and watch the rest of the show which I did. I was able to stave off a full meltdown until the very end because of him.

Dr Ranj had never met me before and will probably never even see this but his random act of kindness was so important to me as I was getting quite low about the lack of support I am getting in some areas of my life that it really has inspired me to continue in my quest to make sure that anyone who is autistic and wants to be able to do things others say that they can’t because they are autistic have the courage and the support they need to be able to do it.

Dr Ranj you are amazing and this random woman who you have never met before and probably never meet again is so very grateful to you for everything 🙂

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Review – Giovanni Pernice & Luba Mushtuk – Dance is Life

On Wednesday I went to a show. I saw Giovanni Pernice’s show called Dance is Life. I brought the tickets after a horrible year in 2018 where I was diagnosed as Autistic and broke up with my boyfriend of 9 years. SO, this was a treat to myself as I love Giovanni on Strictly Come Dancing to the point I wish they would let normal people on the show so I could possibly have a chance to dance with him.

So here is what I thought of the show:

Giovanni’s show was AMAZING! From an autistic perspective, where I had been sitting was not great as I got overstimulated which did eventually lead to a meltdown however the show its self was fantastic.

Giovanni is an amazing dancer and his partner Luba Mushtuk was so elegant and graceful. He really did tell a story with his performance. It was helped along by the other dancers on stage who were Gordana Grandosek Whiddon, Kylee Vincent, Sylvia Radziejowska, Trent Whiddon, Stephen Vincent, Krystian Radziejowska.

These 8 people took my breath away. All of them danced with a passion for what they were doing and it was so great to see Strictly style dancing off the screen and in person. As someone who at a young age and into my teens wanted to be a dancer – fate intervening and stopping me, I appreciate when you see true artistry in dance and that is what I saw on Wednesday. Even with the audience participation where two of the dancers picked up a chair and was swinging the member of the audience in the air hehe made me giggle.

I recommend to anyone who loves to watch Strictly or even loves watching the dance that watching a Giovanni Pernice performance is a great way to spend a night and for any Autistic person who is worried about a meltdown, it is well worth the after effects for this amazing performance so do not miss out!

Letter to Dame Darcy

Dear Dame Darcy,

My name is Suze and I have decided to write to you. I have been a massive fan of yours on Strictly Come Dancing for years and so glad that you have received an honor as well.

The reason I wanted to write to you, and I have been weighing this up in my head for a while now is because I saw part of your show on dancing and wellbeing.

I wholeheartedly agree that dancing is something that can boost a person’s mental wellbeing, unfortunately now, dancing for me is bittersweet and I will tell you why.

When I was small I wanted to be in the entertainment industry but I wanted to be as much of a threat as I possibly could and as I fell in love with acting, singing, and dance I focused on all 3. The problem I had though is I didn’t know how hard things were going to be for me. You see Dame Darcy when I was in school, I was undiagnosed as Autistic and Dyslexic with a bit of dyspraxia to boot. You may not know much but the autism made me struggle with learning things and the dyspraxia had some issues for me in terms of certain types of dance where co-ordination is vital. Ballet is a very prime example. That didn’t stop me though it did limit me in certain things, for instance, I knew I couldn’t do ballet, the contemporary classes I went to it seemed like all we did was warm-up exercises like running around like butterflies and it made no sense to me but I kept on

I even tried to do dance as a GCSE but had to change school after year 10 and the school I went to did not do dance GCSE, so I had to drop it ☹.

Unknown to me at that time as well was that I also had hypermobile knees which were not helpful when I was knocked over by a pizza delivery bike at the age of 15. I struggled for a long time with my knees after that and was categorically told over and over again that I would never be able to become a dancer I was to “damaged” and that there was no reason to pursue a career in dance.

This was devasting for me. I did not know what to do. I did not know how to cope properly (autistic) so I just stopped dancing. I went from someone who would listen to music and make up dance routines in my living room and then dance them to giving up. Now I only dance in my room with the door closed and the curtains shut so that I am seen by no one.

So now dance for me is something that is bittersweet. It is not something I do anymore and breaks my heart as well. I have considered doing classes, but I now have scoliosis in my spine and depression and every time I try and get up the courage, I lose my nerve.

But I want to change that. Since getting my autism diagnosis I have been looking at ways I can face some of the things I lost through not having support. Some of that is social and others are things I lost a long time ago, one of which is my love for dance. I want to show the world that you know what, it really is like Lauren was saying on this years strictly “ it’s about ability, not disability”. I have always been intrigued by ballroom and Latin (even before strictly) but never had the courage to do it.

 

I would love to one day meet you even just to discuss dancing and how it can help others so that maybe I could use the discussion in a blog to help inspire others. If you ever think that is something you would be willing to do that would be great – though I know you are busy and that it is a real long shot.

To let you in on a secret dream as well, I would love to have a lesson with Pasha or Giovanni or even Graziano (obviously new) but I am realistic and know that will never happen.

Dame Darcy, I would like you to keep doing what you are doing. People like me are forgotten in this world. Those of us who have learning, physical and or mental difficulties but honestly with people like you around shining a light on something that I hold dear which is dance and show that it can help those with mental health is amazing. You are a true inspiration and I am glad I finally got the courage to write this letter. Just watching your passion for dance during strictly come dancing, brings out smiles in me I thought I had lost a long time ago.

I am posting this as a blog as I don’t know how to write to you but I know I can share this on Social Media and hope that you see and read my post.

Yours

Suze

Acting, Singing & Dancing My Joy and my Pain

I was a little bit of a stereotypical girl growing up. One of what I know now to be my “special interests” due to my autism was the entertainment industry. I grew up with classics like Calamity Jane, Chicago, Magnificant 7, Guns of Navarone as well as amazing singers of my knowledge Karen Carpenter, Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra (as well as my favorite Singers of my childhood) which included Steps, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, Blue, B*Witched and many more. I didn’t want to join the entertainment industry of the money… I just loved to dance, act and sing. The problem is, this is a very neurotypical dream for a very undiagnosed neuro-diverse person.

I did what every person interested in the entertainment industry did. I took dance classes. I was in the school choir and church choir. I even tried out for full-time theatre school and went to weekend theatre school as well. Unfortunately, with all my passion I had one thing turned against me.

I will say it again. I was trying to achieve a neurotypical dream with no knowledge of how neuro-diverse I was or how to attain my dreams in a way that would suit me.  As the years went on I was knocked right down.

In dance – I was hit by a pizza delivery bike when I was in secondary school and had ongoing problems with my knees and ankles. This made people tell me, forget about dancing… your career will never happen so give up… This is something I had devoted even my education to as I wanted to take GCSE Dance. Further blows happened when I had to move school during my GCSE years and the new school I went to did not even offer it as a course. So begrudgingly I gave up that dream. Now the only time people see me dance is when I am drunk. Sometimes I still dance to music in the corner of my bedroom with the curtains closed and the door shut but it is a far cry from where I was (making up dance routines in my living room to music.)

In Acting – A massive problem I had was auditions. If I had the chance to take my time and learn lines I would be fantastic (my opinion obviously) but in auditions, you don’t have time to prepare. This was at a time when I did not know I was dyslexic. Side note- when I was diagnosed I was told I had the reading age of a 5-year-old. That was at the age of 16. Now imagine that in an audition not only trying to act but remember what you were supposed to be saying. So once again I was told, give it up… I have no hope and by that stage, I had lost so much confidence that I stopped going to auditions and shied away from even considering GCSE drama. I believed what I was told…

Singing – Well I fell in love with caffeine and that obviously affected my abilities but because of the other things and scary music teacher I lost confidence in me. I never let anyone hear me sing now. If they do it because the music on my speaker is low enough to hear.

Now at 32 I still love acting, singing and dancing but it is a blessing and a curse. Had I known about my autism and dyslexia – or as others say it Neurodiversity back when I was trying my absolute hardest to get into the industry then maybe, just maybe I would not sit here with aching for something that I always loved in my heart.

Maybe I would not have lost confidence in myself. Maybe I would have got picked for things that I auditioned for. Maybe I would be on Strictly Come Dancing as a celeb partner, but I will never know.

So to all people out there who struggle, who may think that they are neurodiverse in one way, shape or form, find out and learn how to cope with it and push yourself. Because, if you are unable to push yourself to be the person you want to be then you will always be the person that is expected of you. That is no life… I know, I made that mistake years ago and regretted it ever since.