I’m not alone …. David Nicholson

David Nicholson

Bell Baxter ADS

Being autistic has brought many challenges to me over the years: anxiety, low confidence, social isolation, being misunderstood, struggles with communication and with socialising. I also have problems if there is too little order, routine or structure. Things happening unexpectedly can still create anxiety. That’s why if change has to happen then it’s better for it to be gradual and for it to be explained to me. Social events can be tricky as there is always that sense of the unknown but I am getting better at going to socials especially if there’s people there that I know.

However, despite the challenges, being autistic has also enabled me to focus on what gives me the greatest joys in life: helping out on the the family smallholding, the family’s Grey Fergie tractor, horses (especially Clydesdale horses), the countryside, music, curling politics and so on. It’s through these interests that I’ve made friends with some incredible folk (including those I met in Young Farmers-Bell Baxter ADS) who accept me for who I am. There’s nothing better than having a good time with friends who like me for who I am. That has definitely helped me to become more confident as a person and has enabled me to really develop as an individual. It means that I can now get out of my comfort zone and try new things which I wouldn’t have been able to do when I was younger.

What is required now is for more awareness of autism and neurodiversity in the rural community and across wider society as a whole. There needs to be more acceptance too. Now as a Friend of Young Farmers I look forward to playing my part to bring about more autism awareness to rural communities.

I think we need to recognise that being different is good and is nothing to be ashamed about. That some of us think and do things differently to others is not a weakness but rather something to be embraced. It is also important to note that autism is a spectrum condition. That means every person who is autistic will have different experiences and challenges with how autism impacts them. That is important for people to understand.