Thursday, 23 January 2014

Experience expert!

I know it has been a while and that most of you probably thought I have stopped updating my blog. For a while I was actually considering of doing just that, because I didn't have much interesting things to say.

But that changed! Recently I have started voluntary work as an experience expert for Autism at 'MEE Utrecht, Overvecht en Gooi'. That's a foundation that supports people with a disability in all kinds of ways.
My tasks will include giving presentations, talk to clients who need contact with someone who understands them, and test new systems. In the future more tasks might be added.

Last Tuesday I had my first presentation. A psychologist gave a training about Autism and how to communicate with someone with Autism and I was asked to give a presentation at the end of the training, as to give some insight in how living with Autism can possibly look like.

Of course I was very nervous before the presentation. It's something new and new things are scary, even more so if you're on the spectrum. The people at MEE were absolutely marvellous in guiding me through this! They gave me as much clarity on everything that was going to happen as they could. They also helped me with putting together my presentation, as I was having a hard time with deciding which things were important enough to include (I could talk for hours about Autism and still only touch the tip of the iceberg!) and which things I could leave out.

The day of the presentation started in absolute chaos. Because I was so nervous, I couldn't plan anything at all (and got a bit stubborn and didn't listen to my sister... Sorry!), which had me running late. Luckily my sister, who I asked to tag along for support and to maybe also tell a bit at the presentation, understood and helped me to get everything together on time.
When we arrived at the place of the presentation, we met the psychologist who would lead the training. She's very nice, understanding and knows what she's talking about.

We were then lead to the room where the presentation was to be held. Soon, we noticed the room was way too small to fit the amount of people who would be in the audience. Luckily there was another, bigger, room that was still empty and we could use it.

After switching rooms, we started setting everything up. Then we couldn't get the beamer to show the presentation. Luckily that was soon fixed by someone who worked at the location. After it was all set up, it was soon time to begin and... There was nobody.
We started getting nervous. What was all this about?

Again, luck was on our side. Someone managed to contact someone who was meant to be in the audience and we soon learned there was a communication problem. They would arrive half an hour later. Good, we weren't without an audience.

That was a very bumpy start of a first presentation, but hey, it's not like I'm not used to these kind of things, right? Happens all the time at the events that I help out at.
So I was soon able to grab myself together again and to greet everyone entering the room. Then the training started.

The training started with having a member of the audience try to have a fake in-take meeting with me and the psychologist, my sister and me gave feedback. After that the psychologist gave her presentation.

We had a lunch break and then it was time for me to give my presentation. I was still pretty nervous, but as soon as I was speaking, all my worries disappeared. I simply told everything that I wanted to tell and I was fuelled by the amazing questions that the audience asked me! I could tell they were very interested and the psychologist, my sister and a MEE employee confirmed that the audience was indeed very interested.

Afterwards the audience had to put to practice everything they learned about communicating with someone with autism in a short conversation with each other, and we gave feedback again. This last exercise really showed that they learned a lot. We hit home run!
One of them said: "There's so much that I would do differently now..."

After that the training was over and we said goodbye to everyone. While saying goodbye, everyone shook my hand and most of them thanked me for my presentation. A few even stopped a bit longer to tell me that they thought my presentation really struck a cord with them and was really an asset to the training. One of them told me she had a buddy with Autism and she could recognise a lot of what I spoke about.

I absolutely loved doing this presentation! Now that I know what it's like, I'm sure I won't be that nervous anymore the next time and I can't wait until I can do this again!


  1. yay, glad you are blogging again, can't wait to see more posts!