Why youth work gives me Autistic joy

silhouette group of people standing on grass field

As a Neurodivergent and Disabled youth worker I learn so much from the Disabled kids I work with.

I realised I was Autistic after doing home visits and writing kids paperwork which could have come straight from my own childhood – the anxiety, the need for sensory input, the inability to be quiet or sit still, the single mindedness, the emotions!

The more visits I went on, the more children I met and the more I knew that our connection was more than youth work, it was community, Autistic community.

I see myself in the kids I work with, even those I don’t necessarily share Disabled experiences with. Our stories hit so many of the same themes; communication differences, sensory input, overwhelm, stimming and ticing, anxiety, empathy, feeling all the feelings.

We are complex individuals who feel and do everything to the extreme.

The biggest thing I develop every week is my patience, not just with the kids and staff (most of whom are ND too – yay!) but also with myself. I have learnt to give myself breaks, put up better boundaries (especially round personal space), listen to my needs and do something about them!

I do better self care at work than I ever have in my personal life. Thankfully, that self care is seeping into my personal life too, slowly, but it’s going in the right direction.

I only hope I give the Disabled people I work with half of what they give me.

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