Ryan’s story: Defying stigma
World Autism Acceptance Week takes place from March 28– April 3, and Ryan is a prime example of achieving despite adversity.
The 30-year-old has autism and epilepsy, is bipolar, experiences depression and was neglected as a child meaning he spent most of his youth in care. However, in his own inspiring words, ‘he refuses to let these define him’.
Ryan explained: “For me, autism is difficult to define – it varies for different people. It means my life revolves a lot around having a structure, doing everything in a certain way, and it’s important that I do things I enjoy such as gaming and walking to keep me calm.
“I used to think that it would get in the way of helping others, but I’ve realised that it’s not a barrier. Instead, I see what I’ve got and everything that I’ve been through as challenges to rise up to and overcome. They won’t stop me in being the best I can be, helping people and proving that I can still have a fulfilling life.”
This is shown when he won a Special Recognition Award for helping the community, something which has helped to keep him going ever since.
He said: “I’m very determined and won’t let this work stop until my feet drop. There’ll be times when I make mistakes, but I recognise that life is all about learning and growing – I embrace that and use it as motivation to continue doing everything I can for others.
“I’m lucky to have support from people around me, and I’m proud that I’m still able to make a difference in the world. Yes autism plays a big part in my life, but it doesn’t change who I am deep down.”