About Andy/ Spectrum Gaming
I am Andy, a 23 year old autistic adult who lives in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Just over 4 years ago I attempted suicide, as I had learnt that I was never going to live a happy life as an autistic person. This wasn't an emotional decision, but a logical one, as I saw no other way out of the miserable life I was living.
But after I survived, I came into contact with some autistic people online who completely changed my life. I met people who had learned to accept their differences and were living life with meaning and purpose. They explained that as an autistic person, you have to live a different life to the norm, but that doesn't mean it has to be an unhappy one.
This glimmer of hope that I could actually be happy after years of hurt, mistreatment and misunderstanding is what enabled me to change how I lived my life. I fought to overcome severe anxiety and depression (which were a result of living in a world that wasn't made for me), and eventually became the happy person I am now, where I am able to be myself and find a place in the world where I can be my authentic self, rather than trying (and failing) to 'fit in'.
After struggling so much growing up, I made it my life goal to make sure as many autistic young people as possible avoid the struggles my generation and previous generations have faced. This work has been ongoing, and we have achieved more over time:
In 2017 set up Autistic Life, a Facebook page that shared educational content about autism which has over 30,000 followers.
In 2018, I created an emotional video about what life is like for autistic young people, and worked with Pathways Associates CIC to do the UK's biggest consulation on the priorities of autistic young people.
In 2019 I started working full time at a local authority as the Inclusion Ambassador/ SEND Advocate, ensuring the views of SEND young people are heard strategically, in addition to becoming co-chair of the North West SEND Young People's Coproduction Network.
In 2020, I created Spectrum Gaming, an online community for autistic young people as a response to lockdown. We now have over 1,000 members and became a registered charity in March 2021.
Spectrum Gaming doesn't just focus on enabling friendships and connection, but on advocacy, and ensuring autistic young people heard. Spectrum Gaming is the inspiration for this project, as many members of our community struggle in educational environments, which results in high levels of anxiety, emotionally based school avoidance, loneliness and more.
We also believe everyone deserves the same life chances, and that you shouldn't be at a disadvantage because your brain is wired differently. Sadly, that is the case at the moment which is why us, and the young people in our community decided to create this project.
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