David is supported by Lifeways – we asked him to share his insight into living with autism in a special interview for World Autism Awareness Week 2020: 

What is Autism?

Autism is interpreted individually by each person who is diagnosed with the condition, and their families, partners, kids, and pals.  Such a complex condition affects each individual in both negative and positive ways, making them vulnerable in some areas, but perhaps making them stronger in other areas.

A Helping Hand

Since I moved into outreach supported housing some years back I've been supported to maintain my tenancy and my wellbeing.  For example, I need help keeping my accommodation safe and tidy. Staff also help in my emotional wellbeing by raising any concerns they have if they believe I'm becoming unwell either physically or emotionally. I’ve become more independent but there's always room for improvement.

My Passions

I have a passion for photographing and filming old steam trains, classic cars, WW2 aircraft, airliners and architecture. My favourite location is the Imperial War Museum at Duxford near Cambridge. I've fulfilled my ambition of sitting in the cockpit of an actual Spitfire. In my dad’s shed at his home is our model railway, a hobby I enjoy when I'm not busy doing Tenant Involvement work for my landlord, or similar activities at Lifeways.

Award Winning Achievements

Over the last 10 to 15 years I've been increasingly involved with both my landlord, Progress Housing, in their Scrutiny Pool and my support provider, Lifeways, in developing and improving the services that our tenants receive - by helping to interview prospective new support workers.  In 2018 Progress Housing won local and national Tenant Participation Advisory Service awards for tenant involvement, and I was at both ceremonies!

The Future

My goals for the future are to continue to make sure that all those who receive care and support packages have the best deals possible for them on the table - this includes their families, partners and friends too. I hope that autism awareness and advancing the opportunities for people with autism to live their lives to the full is always on the cutting edge of advancing disability awareness and acceptance. The ultimate goal would be the ability for all of us, including those with autism and mental health conditions, to make our positive contribution to society, thereby making our country a great place to be.  You only get out what you put into it.  Even if you're volunteering a few hours a week in a charity shop or at a museum or tourist attraction, you're playing a valuable part in society!

Words of Wisdom

If you want to be accepted in society and to be successful, you won't do it by sitting at home all day feeling sorry for yourself. There is an increasing level of support out there, and when you overcome the barrier of self doubt, you shouldn't feel any shame or stigma in seeking help and support to make a success of your life. There is no shame in admitting that you need help.