I may be an autistic and a disabled fairy, who is often bed bound, who cannot walk or talk some days… but have you seen me fly? You soon will. I fly when I help others – and I adore it.
My name is Joely Williams, I am 31, and I am an autistic, multi world and nationally award-winning autism advocate, *best-selling Author of an empowering and educational autism resource book and international motivational speaker. There is nothing I love more, than helping other people, understand that they can try to fly with support, too. I was diagnosed at just 2 years old as Autistic and ADHD. I didn’t learn to speak until I was 8, I used to be partially deaf and only communicated with sign language and ancient Egyptian Heiroglyphs… I am hugely disabled by my Autism and I see my disability as a gift – I’m a honest, empathetic, justice seeking fairy who always tries to be good.
There is no reason aside from ableism why a disability, cannot also be a gift. My disability is a gift, because it teaches me so much of the person I wish to become. My disability is my gift, because a gift can be a valuable lesson taught, it can be a statement to the world, that there was never anything wrong with you, or it can be the pride of how far we have come not in spite of our hardships. With my gift, comes the reality that I am overshadowed by societal stigma and misunderstanding. I like to see myself as a ‘fairy’-hugely misunderstood and judged to be cheeky, mysterious Or naughty; when really I’m clouded by stereotypes. The reality is while I’m viewed as ‘successful’- with a published bestselling book, multiple awards and a thriving advocacy career- Most days I’m too shutdown and overwhelmed to make basic connections. Is it raining? I can’t always tell, even if I feel the droplets on my skin. What is my name, you ask? I cannot always access that information. – making my life skill level around 16/100 on most average days.
I learnt to sparkle within my Fairy Jam Jar- spread My Autistic Wings and fly and I’m here today to show you all that we can learn to fly, in a way that works for us – because society is wrong about us. When society said I would never communicate or when society negatively judged my worth and my disability, as if the two went hand in hand. When society tried to teach me to hide my autism if I had any hope of love or success. when society taunted that I would never achieve or be equal to my neurotypical peers. Society was wrong. I like to think I’m smashing their stereotypes, and I’m thriving, not in spite of my autism, but often, because of it. As a child, I was affectionately known as a whirlwind… and although I loved being me, stigma and misconceptions followed me everywhere I went. Despite Societies taunts that I would forever fail due to my behaviour issues – My autism doesn’t prevent my success, in fact the whirlwind, even helped me to stim, systemise data, build emotional resilience and grow. I often felt like I was a child who ‘couldn’t learn’ because stereotypes challenged my understanding of what learning meant. In reality, I was a child who learnt differently, who needed more time to process. I was a child who couldn’t learn as well in a sensory hectic classrooms but that wasn’t my fault. Society was wrong. My autism doesn’t stop me learning or progressing, or hinder me from making my dreams more accessible, if I have the right environmental support, and a lot of patience. I just need help utilising my interest, streamlining my capabilities to focus on what I was good at, and using my hyper focus to thrive.
My quirks that were negatively judged – that same passion, creativity, hyper focus, justice seeking and mind wandering stimulation, greatly enables me, especially in pursuing passion. Sure, There are many things that Autistic people find difficult and disabling. Society and the stereotypes were wrong about me; These hardships don’t mean I have no hope. The hardships disable me, yes, but a disability is not the absence of potential or growth, a disability simply means that you need extra support getting to a baseline starting point everyone else is already at. Once you reach that starting point, you may thrive and be independent like anyone else can – but in a way that works for you. The hardships can make me question my truths: Truth: Has my Autistic Wings made it hard to fly and achieve my dreams? Yes but this is also my truth: Has my Autistic Wings stopped me from learning to fly? No. Never; I am filled with magic, and learning to fly high, because all I ever do, is try. In this way, my inner truth has changed over the years. I am often asked what the first word I think of is, when I think of Autism.
I used to say “a disability”. but now, “Beautiful” is always my answer. to me, Autism is beautiful. Autism is beautiful because this dance within my cells make me stim and feel such rhythm within my soul that I am in love, even when the world is dull. For me Autism is beautiful because it is filled with passion, empathy, care, justice seeking; and all of this humanity is a beautiful thing, in a world of deceit, stigma and cruelity. Autism is beautiful because, hope glitters on the surface of pain and difficulty. Autism is beautiful because of how I often feel so alive with passion. There’s beauty within Autism when being enchanted by everyday details that others don’t notice; learning about topics that’s other would find boring, becoming fascinated and curious and justice seeking is part of the beauty of humanity. Likewise, Autism is beautiful because it is an incredible way to connect with people. an opportunity to look outside the box, it’s a way to seek out answers to questions no one is asking. It’s being enlightened by the power of people and their stories and becoming enchanted by their joy, their anguish, their journey to fly. Autism is my identity, my life, my love, my heart my soul- my disability. The beauty within Autism exists, even when the beauty can be shaded by infantilisation, bullying and gaslighting, because from the stigma you’ve overcome, the beauty shines through. Autism is beauty even with its contradictions; the stereotypes bashing you from all angles- and it’s also fighting to accept in your heart that… You’re just different. Not bad. Not helpless Not loveless. Not incapable. Not selfish. Not attention seeking.
Not hopeless… Just autistic. Just beautiful. What’s more beautiful, than that? The truth is that I never failed. Society failed me. I might be ‘failing’-disabled and often bed-bound…but have you seen me fly? I fly when I am enabled to pursuit my passions. I fly when I am kind, considerate, or mindful to others and myself. I fly when I am accepting of my limitations and disability. I fly when I grow from mistakes or when I love those around me. I fly, when I am free to be 100% who I am. To fly, Means accepting the love that glitters, often on the surface of pain-and learn to improve from it. I try my best to fly, as I never failed and there was never anything wrong with me I may be Autistic and disabled, but one day the world will see me fly. Now, my wings are outstretched, flapping with glee- and I know I’ve got so much more to give-I’m learning to fly. With a sprinkle of fairy dust, Let’s learn to fly, together.
Up, up…And away! www.MyAutisticWings.co.uk