If one person has made the biggest impact on how so many autistic advocates show up and how we set healthy boundaries around ourselves as autistic adults and advocates it is my dear friend and mentor, Brian Bird.
Brian is the calm voice in the storm. He is the grounded center that rights the ship when it feels like you are going down. The gratitude I owe this glorious man is immense.
He has taught countless autistic advocates how to reclaim and establish OUR space and place in this world and within our own community from a place of compassion and self-love. If I were on a panel to select someone to receive an Impact and Achievement Award, Brian Bird would hands down have my nomination and vote. Hey, let’s do that right now!
Brian learned at the age of fifty that he is autistic. His writing and advocacy so intimately shares his journey through life. He lost his parents at a very early age and he was brutally bullied and experienced atrocities that no human should ever experience. The courage, bravery, tenacity and heart that Brian thrives and continues to show up with in life today and every day is a testament to who he is.
He is father to two incredible autistic sons and a black belt in taekwondo. He also shares his relationship with his grandfather and their unique connection in his writing on his blog and on his community on Instagram @Autism_Support_Community. Don’t miss the daily dose of light-hearted humor Brain always shares as well.
Brian is a writer and blogger, autistic self-advocate, and anti-bullying campaigner. He has presented at The London Autism Show on bullying, mental health, and diagnosis, at the NAS Leeds Autism and mental health conference. He presents twice yearly at The Michael Rutter Centre, Maudsley for parents of newly diagnosed autistic children. Brian took part in the filming, experiments, and research side of the BBC Horizon television documentary ‘Living with autism’ featuring Uta Frith. Brian is also an avid naturalist, photographer, and loves to travel.
Carole Jean: What is your specialty or focus area of Autism Advocacy?
Brian: I think my special focus area is support. I have always had a kind and open heart, and been able to see the bigger picture. I think to support means I have to be fully inclusive of all and embrace all autistic voices.
Support for me means that I include autistics, parents and professionals alike. I am a bridge builder, and work without ego or secret agendas.
As a more mature gentleman, I fully understand the art of diplomacy and communication.
I reach out to all and listen to learn.
Carole Jean: Why did you begin advocating for yourself and others? What makes this personal to you and Your Big Why?
Brian: I got my late diagnosis at the age of 50 some 10 years ago. I wanted to lead from the front, to become an advocate, to act as a shield to protect my sons and others from this sometimes harsh world.
I was institutionalized, bullied, homeless, and rejected by my own father. I was a vandal and street child. Now I am here to educate, observe and shine a beacon of light for those who are lost or invisible.
Carole Jean: What is/are the top tip(s) or insight(s) you have discovered for advocating for a) others and b) yourself?
Brian: My top tips are:
-Never compare, all autistics are unique and we must be our authentic selves.
-Be open-minded as we sometimes learn things from those who might disagree or have a different perspective.
-To be kind and polite, they are powerful tools to open hearts and minds.
-To be fully inclusive and work as a team, ego and agendas cause division.
-Most of all to be anti-bullying, there is no place for bullying, it is not advocacy and harms our community.
Now you can 100 percent see why Brian Bird is our VERY FIRST recipient of the Mind Your Autistic Brain Autistic Advocate Impact & Achievement Award for Service to Others. He truly has impacted countless autistic lives and the lives of everyone he ever comes in contact with no matter their neurotype.
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No one seems to ‘get it’. Friends and family think you just need to push through or "self-care" more. Internally, so many people in late identified life (me included) feel broken, ashamed or like they are failing or have never reached their full potential, when all along they've had a brain and sensory system that is different from the masses. It can take a lot of strength to keep going.
(It was years before I realized I had been on The Chronic Cycle Burnout Loop)
Living Burnout, Shutdown and Meltdown FREE for going on 4 years now has taught me more than I ever dreamed possible and the most powerful experience in Restoration has been regaining skills and abilities I thought were lost permanently to Burnout decades ago.
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