I thought it important that anyone coming to this site had access to some information about me. I mean… not enough hopefully for anyone to commit identity theft or anything, but enough for you to know who I am, where I come from and why this website exists.
First and foremost, I’m Autistic. I think it’s important to put that front and centre as it’s both fundamental to who I am and one of the biggest drivers in my life. I exist as The Autistic Advocate because I’m Autistic, but I also actually exist because I’m Autistic.
I was born in Essex, UK in 1979 and after years of feeling isolated, hopeless, confused and alone, I was diagnosed as Autistic in 2003.
If you’re old enough to remember that long ago, you’ll know that the internet was fledgling and the access to information that we have now, did not really exist. The world was not connected as it is now. Due to that, I didn’t really know where to look for information on how to help myself understand. Autism was about children and children only, books were really about children, save a few and Professionals only ever spoke about children.
So I did what I had done my entire life. I internalised it all. I took these extra layers of confusion and pain and suppressed them deep down.
I grew up, went through suicide attempts, repeatedly worsening periods of Autistic Burnout, struggled with work and employment, subconsciously seeking jobs in Education, Special Education and Social Care that involved Autistic children or adults, or children in need at least. Working to support those who I identified with, with a desperate need for their lives not to be like mine, to be the person needed as a child and still needed as an adult.
I Masked like a champion, cramming more and more inside myself, jamming it all down and stamping on it to make room for more.
Don’t get me wrong, there was good. I knew joy, love, marriage, children, but through it all I remained lost and not quite… me.
So what changed and brought me here?
Bizarrely, a combination of my children, Autistic Burnout and a need to self-discover. I knew I needed answers, I knew I couldn’t be the Father and Husband I wanted to be and that my family deserved.
So finally at about the age of 31 I found the Autistic community online. I found people that shared the same experiences as me, that identified as I did. That had names for all the concepts I’d thought up over the years.
And from that community I learnt what had been missing from all the many hundreds of books I’d read written by professionals: Internal perspective. The gaps in my knowledge were, I quickly discovered, far vaster than I’d imagined, an empty ocean, I’d been trying to fill with a thimble of knowledge by people who thought they understood, who tried to understand, but were on the whole making guesses based on limited knowledge and, ironically, a complete inability to step into our shoes.
I learnt what Autism is and, more importantly, what Autism isn’t. I learnt and understood how ruinous the last 85 years of thought about Autism has been. How compartmentalised, oversimplified and outdated most current thinking is.
And I learnt how harmful the negative narrative of Autism is to Autistic people and how it is used by an Autism industry worth over $7billion to subjugate and other us.
So I started writing. Initially an experiment in a catharsis, but which quickly became an exorcism of all the pent up EVERYTHING I had inside me and then which led to me realising something.
All I was doing was replicating what others had done. Talking about their journeys, their lives, all very introspective and individualistic, but where was this connection, this shared experience that brought us all together.
So I switched. I stop looking inwards and started looking outwards, I started seeing myself thropugh other people’s thoughts and framing and experience. I became outrospective and things really changed.
My writing changed, I became an Autism campaigner and this website took off.
I truly believe that it happened because I wasn’t really talking about me anymore, but a collective us, focusing on Autism as an Identity, as an acceptable Neurology, while at the same time addressing the aspects that can be disabling, both from society but as a Disability too.
It became a platform and now my articles on this website alone have been read by over a million people.
I formed The Autistic Cooperative, a network for Autistic Autism Professionals from all over the world. A place where Autistic people can network, collaborate and work together and not have to retread the same paths over and over.
With the support of Autistic colleagues I co-created and led on the hugely successful and groundbreaking #TakeTheMaskOff campaign, which ran across all the social media platforms gaining a reach of over five million people and highlighting Autistic Masking to the masses.
I started to be asked to speak and now I’m an International Keynote Speaker, who focuses on Autism, Autistic identity, Social Change, Education and Autistic Masking and Burnout; and have delivered to audiences of over 800 people.
My bespoke training has been delivered to Universities, colleges, schools, businesses and to organisations as diverse as the Police, through to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, among many others
I’ve delivered online in various formats, working at the brilliant Autism Explained Symposium which has helped so many people to be introduced to a wide variety of speakers from all over the world incorporating a lot of differetn subjects; and with one of my favourite people Kristy Forbes from inTune Pathways who delivers the amazingly resourceful support programs.
I’m privileged to be on the board of SLP Neurodiversity Collective alongside Julia Bascom Executive Director of ASAN; Jeffrey Guenzel, a former Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families; Amanda Merlin, Speech-Language Pathologist, Healthcare Manager, and Business Owner; and Julie Roberts, a Speech and Language Pathologist with 20 years of experience and founder of the SLP Neurodiversity Collective
I’m now a paid consultant for a number of different North East England and UK national organisations, including the North East Autism Society, working on strategy, organisational structure and training content; Durham Constabulary looking at internal and external facing strategy, procedural changes and training; Operation Diversity, delivering regular webinars and online training; Addictions UK delivering training and assessments; and FIGS UK offering strategic support.
I also act as consultant to the Life of Reilly play and film; fiction author Roxie Cooper; Author and photographer Penny Wincer; along with BBC Radio Newcastle and BBC Radio Tees ; among others .
I’m working with a number of Autism researchers through Sunderland University, University College London and University of Strathclyde, looking at Autistic Masking, Autistic Burnout, Mate crime, Autistic voice and Social Change.
I am also fortunate enough to be the founder and Manager Director of Infinite Autism, a social enterprise dleivering support to Autistic people and their families, as well as working in partnership with other organisations such as North East Autism Society, Durham Constabulary and Durham Constabulary Autism Association, Addictions UK, Autism in Mind,
So this is effectively me and the hugely broad scope of what I do, but I’ve saved the best till last.
I would not be able to do any of the things I do were it not for my wonderful, supportive, brilliant and gorgeous wife, Michelle. Despite the many things physically and mentally going on in her life she never ceases to amaze me as to how she finds the time to support people. She loves Marketing, and consults in that and runs an online Marketing school, which is nowhere near as interesting as Autism.
But each to their own…
I also have three children who astound me every day, my oldest son is diagnosed Autistic, as is my Daughter. My middle son, is as Neurodivergent as they come!
The one thing I haven’t mentioned is co-occurring conditions…
I have a lot, but the main ones are Alexithymia, I’m undiagnosed Dyspraxic, I’m Selectively Mute, I am Hyperlexic , I’m partially deaf through Meniere’s Disease and I definite have anxiety. I regularly shutdown, rather than meltdown and this is mostly due to sensory overwhelm.
Touch hurts me.
But more of that in my blog.
Above everything I am still just as Autistic now as I was when I was a child.
Just thank you for reading, sharing, listening, watching, paying me or going out and spreading the word. Thank you for whatever you do.
I don’t know if ‘enjoy’ is the right word, but I hope you take something meaningful from my work and my words.
For further information and pricing about engaging Kieran for Public Speaking, training or consultancy, please contact Kieran via: firstname.lastname@example.org
For information regarding working with Infinite Autism, please email Kieran via: