As a young 16-year-old member of the Council for Disabled Children’s FLARE group, it is always exciting to be able to make a positive difference for autistic people and people living with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities). However, being told in the mid-afternoon that I have been selected to speak to the UK government’s Treasury was absolutely exhilarating news. I was flabbergasted because it’s an opportunity that I never ever got in my whole life.
I decided to talk about mental health and SEND combined together in my speech. Both mental health and SEND are two topics that are very close to my heart and some of my speech was about how autistic people are mainly being diagnosed after a long time of mental health problems and burning out and that more money needs to be actually spent on trying to identify and diagnose autistic people without them having to endure a long time of mental health problems. For me to have got the opportunity to talk about this topic which is very close to my heart was very exciting and I wrote and sent off my speech five days before the deadline.
The practise session was on June 16th and it did go well and I did let my followers know on my @AutisticPb Twitter account that my practise session went very well. My confidence grew because in the past, I would’ve said ‘no’ to opportunities like this because my mental health struggles would’ve completely knocked out my self-esteem and confidence to be able to do things like this.
The big day was on June 21st involving speaking to many people including civil servants, NCB workers and UK Government Treasury workers. There were over 30 people on the Zoom call at the same time. It’s a lot of new people and it can cause anxiety as an autistic person but I didn’t feel too nervous which isn’t a common thing with me but I was well prepared for this opportunity.
After the speech, I was absolutely elated with the amount of positive feedback I got, it went as well as I would have hoped and the amount of positive feedback made me so good about myself and made me feel like my time writing and delivering my speech was absolutely worth it and it is absolutely wonderful to be here to make a positive difference.