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Running for Autism Awareness

19th March 2018

We were recently contacted by a young man with autism, Phil, who is running the Birmingham 10k fundraising for us. He also expressed a wish to help with the ongoing cause of autism awareness. We met with him and helped him get set up with a Just Giving fundraising page, but we wanted to know more about him, his motivation and his desire to work in the sports sector.

Please tell us a little about yourself and why you are so keen to help promote autism awareness.

My name is Phillip and I’m 26 years old. I’ve been diagnosed with Autism (Asperger Syndrome) ever since I was a child.

Individuals who have any kind of autism can be easily overlooked when it comes to employment/higher education opportunities. This is majority of my dedication to make the public more aware of autism. Just because we may lack some qualities of what a job may entail doesn’t make us any less capable of performing it. It’s critically important for employers to not point out the shortcomings of an autistic individual but instead, focus on the positives what the said individual can offer.

Why have you chosen to run the Simply Health Birmingham 10k event and why did you choose Autism West Midlands to fundraise for?

Well what better place to start than a run that’s in my own city. Plus, 10k (Kilometres) is a great distance to aim and train for. Ever since I purchased my entry for the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k, it’s motivated me every single day to improve my fitness and to ensure I will be ready to complete it.

I feel it makes perfect sense to fundraise for a charity which specialises about my diagnosis and any other kind of autism. As it’s my very first organised run, representing Autism West Midlands is not only a privilege but also the opportunity to increase autism awareness throughout the UK if not the world.

Do you like sport and are you interested in pursuing this as a career, what kind of work would you like to become involved with in the world of sport?

Absolutely. Ever since watching Rio 2016 Olympic Games, my interests in sports have increased dramatically. I learned to swim at a young age and is actually one of my favourite sports next to long-distance running. I really do want to do sports, either swimming or long-distance running, as a career. I know I may be too old for some opportunities but regardless of that, age is just a number. I’m currently looking for lifeguard courses to not only earn qualifications but also expanding my job horizon.

How would you say your autism affects you, what are the challenges and the positives that that people could be more aware of?

My autism mostly affects me by not being able to make ‘small talk’ with other people. I’m usually pretty quiet and tend to keep myself to myself. I sometimes find it difficult to try things which are out of my comfort zone. Bearing all that in mind, it’s also given me an increased capacity to remember information more effectively. I can see situations in ‘Black & White’ more commonly than most people, allowing me to think logically and rationally to solve any problem I encounter. Because maybe most autistic individuals might find it difficult to engage with others, it shouldn’t be a requirement on a job description. Some autistic individuals may enjoy doing the same tasks repetitively such as data input, moving boxes or such. That’s what people need to focus on. Doing the smallest tasks can often make the biggest differences.

It displeases me seeing autistic individuals being denied for opportunities they are fully capable of performing as well as a non-autism individual can.

What small nugget of wisdom about living with autism would you like to offer others and the people caring for them?

Never wish yourself to be different. If people bully or question you about the way you are, it’s them who need to change. That’s how I look at it.

I fully understand it can be hard to enjoy life as an autistic individual but you can change that by starting off small somewhere. For example, if you love fitness as well as I do but you don’t feel ready enough to go to a gym, try walking around your neighborhood for 5 – 10 minutes. Gradually work on that and you may realise you have more self-esteem in you than you thought and ready to tackle new challenges.

Most importantly, enjoy doing things in your own way and pace. You have all the time in the world to set out any goals you want to achieve.

We thank Phil for his inspiring words and wish all the best with his fundraising.

 If you would like to help Phil with his endeavor please visit his JustGiving fundraising page.

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