So why do I do what I do?
Updated: Jun 8
I think it only fair that I give some details as to why I do what I do. With so many life coaches out there, what is it that makes me different. Life coaching itself looks at life. It can cover many of life's issues ranging from getting out of bed in the morning to deciding that you want to change career or behave differently with someone to get a different outcome. Some life coaches focus on health and nutrition and work in partnerships wth others e.g. a gym. Some incorporate other skills that they have into their coaching e.g. reiki, meditation. For me, I have a love of helping people, I feel good about myself when I can help someone. Although I am unable to practice as an integrative counsellor yet, I have studied the theories associated with counselling and use these to inform my coaching practice. Do I have other transferable skills that i can incorporate into my practice? Yes I do but I only include them as and when required.
I have helped many people with many different things and one thing that has prevailed over all of this, is the help that I can offer someone with ASD. Over the last 20 years the one thing that has been consistent in my life is ASD. Through my son, his dad, families I worked with both in paid employment and through volunteer work and also my own experience as an autistic person. It has not been easy, life never is but I feel there is a particular set of challenges that come with having a loved one with ASD that many do not understand. I know there are professionals out there who may have completed academic courses about ASD but sometimes the academic side of things does not transfer well into real life if things happen that aren't exactly what I would call 'textbook'.
I certainly don't claim to know it all but I have experienced the struggles we face as parents. Struggles with schools, other professionals, family members and society as a whole.
If there was one thing that would have made a difference to me as a parent of a young child displaying neurological differences pre-diagnosis, or with a child post-diagnosis with very little service input (not knowing where to turn), or navigating puberty stages, would have been someone who had been there. Someone who knows what it is like to experience the meltdowns, someone who understands the frustration with lack of services, someone to guide me through the statementing process.
Even as adults, people with ASD need help making decisions or working through the grey areas on life. Help to recognise when to take better care of ourselves and to work out what our needs are and then express them. Help to live in a society that doesn't always understand neurological differences.
I also know what it is to struggle as an individual because I also have ASD (and probably ADHD as my scoring on a recent DIVA 5 shows). I struggle with black and white thinking, being literal, the meltdowns, the confusion, the lack of the filter, the inability to convey what it is I really want to say. At times like these I ask colleagues and friends for support.
My autism does not mean that I am broken. It means that I have struggled to find my way in the world. At the age of 52 I now feel that I understand who I am and what it is that makes me tick. What causes a meltdown, what sensory issues I have, my strengths, my weaknesses. As a female autistic I have masked for years and wondered why I didn't quite seem to fit in. My diagnosis has helped me make sense of all of this. This does not mean that I have it all figured out. If by chance anyone has, I'd love to chat!
So how does this work in the room with clients? Most of you, unless you really know me or have a loved one with autism, probably wouldn't notice. I have been told I am very approachable and friendy. I'm the type of person that someone feels safe to start a conversation with in the queue at the checkout. I always respond, even when I don't feel like it. It costs nothing to be polite and I always think I might be the only person that person has spoken to all day. As far as I'm concerned I'm just me. I am the same in the room with a client as I am with my friends and family. You meet me, as I am, genuine, honest and sometimes funny.
What I do know is that the older I get and the more that I learn, it benefits my clients.