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

My Autistic Super Power – Hearing

Since my Autism Diagnosis, I have been doing as much research as I can possibly do and honestly, one of my superpowers is my hearing.

It is something I am proud of. Even though I can’t handle really loud sounds for example if someone has the television up too loud, I can hear things like both sides of a telephone conversation from another room. I am proud of this fact. It is something that is special to me and I take great pride in it.

This autistic person has a superpower! Like with my Dyslexia I choose to consider my differences as superpowers. It means that I feel less like an oddball and more like someone who has special talents.

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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.

Getting the conversation started

So this week has been National Inclusion Week and one of the main things that I have learned from this week is that we need to start empowering people to talk about their disabilities, their differences as well as things that make them unique. More needs to be done to support those both inside and outside the workplace who have a story to tell but are too scared that they will be judged.

When I was first diagnosed as Autistic I wondered how on earth I would describe it to people at work. For me it made me understand some of my behaviors from my childhood however as an adult I wondered how people would take it. Luckily I had a wonderful line manager who listened and helped me out with my understand what I was going through.

Through telling my line manager I was able to identify some of the things like my issues with volume control in my voice. Every time I am anxious I was able to speak to my line manager.  Through her support, when I joined a new team, I felt confident telling them I was diagnosed as Autistic. The main thing I tell them is that if you notice something to please tell me. If I am told constructively I am able to take it however if someone has a go at me when I struggle.

With the autism, I have come to understand some of my strange behaviors. An example is that I have gotten hooked on “A Discovery of Witches” to the point where I have watched the first 3 episodes again and again and am desperate for next week to come so I can watch all 4 episodes. Before people would tell me I am strange and odd for it but I have come to understand that there are things that I love, for instance, mystical folklore, crime, and cartoons. This is just something which is my specialty areas. Because of the Autism, I tend to fixate on them which is good to know. This is helping me learn more about me and helping me to grow. I am still working out how it all works with me and I am trying very hard to grow into a more confident me but honestly, it is a challenge.

As a dyslexic, I always knew I was struggling with school. I was often told that there was no problem with me, it was just that I was not applying myself. It knocked my confidence in everything and I honestly did not even believe I would get A-levels. It took one school to really take an interest which helps. One teacher I had in particular who helped me out was Mr. Phillips. He would go through my bad homework and give me the chance to redo them. He would not change my grade but it helped me get the work up to standard. Because of him, during my A-levels, I was able to get a B in sociology. This was a very big accomplishment for me as it is a pure essay writing qualification.  Mr. Phillips helped me out so much. I honestly wish I knew where he was now so that I could thank him.

Depression is a hard one for me especially as I live with it every day. It is hard to put into words but there are just days that I do not even want to get out of bed. I want to hide under my duvet and let the world pass me by. The problem is is that I know how bad I used to get when I was first diagnosed. I took a penknife to my hand. I do not ever want to get to that state again. I try and be open about it, however, it can be hard as you wonder how people will react when you do. I know that there are people out there who will treat you like glass and they will amend the way they interact with you which is not very good. For me when people are around me being themselves it is when I almost feel alright.

Now honestly, being 32 with spinal problems is a terrible thing. It honestly makes me think I did something bad in a past life but honestly, I am hoping that I will be able to get myself to a stage when I feel confident about it. I just hope that it would do a lot better sooner rather than later so that when I am older I won’t have extra problems.

Yet, with all I have to deal with, I do my best to get the most out of every day.  I try and live my life in a way that when I look back at it I can be proud of everything that I have done. There is still so much that I want to do with my life and hope, of all hope, that I will get it done.

I am just one person

I am just one person in this crazy world. I am just one person who has had the world collapse on her numerous times and still wakes up every morning trying to find a way to make the world a nicer and fluffier place to live in.

I have am a survivor of abuse:

Diagnosed as dyslexic at 16:

Diagnosed with depression at 21:

Diagnosed with spinal problems at 29:

Diagnosed as Autistic at 32:

But do I let the above get me down? No of course I dont. I will share my pain and sorrows as well as my joys and successes with the world.

One thing however, that  I am doing, which I would like you all to know about is my Thank You Campaign.

For the last two years I have been doing this on my own with no help from anyone. It has been a very fruitful journey but I am now looking for help to continue.

I have been using my own money to support American Service Personnell who are deployed over seas. I have created goodie bags for those who work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in uniform and I write letters and Social Media posts Thanking people for their service. I will keep doing this until there is no money left to use but if you are able to help and support me in my work then please visit https://www.gofundme.com/544xm-thank-you-for-your-service and donate so that I can continue to help support and show appreciation to those in uniform who serve and protect us 🙂

I am just one person, who is now asking for help