My name is Rebecca Sharrock and I am an autistic writer and public speaker. The University of California Irvine officially diagnosed me in 2013 with a very rare kind of memory called HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory). This makes me unable to forget any day of my life. At this moment I’m doing seminar talks at anyone’s request to gain experience for my goal of making some sort of a living out of public speaking. The topics I talk about are human memory, autism and anxiety.
In addition to my HSAM I also have autism, and I could perhaps say that my ASD impacts my life even more so. I am in a large blended family of people with special needs. My three younger step-siblings have ASD also, and two of them have Intellectual Impairment (IQ below 70) in addition. As teenagers and adults less resources in regards to autism are available to us. Though autism is a lifelong condition and it can not be outgrown, despite it still being possible for us to develop certain life skills after years of practice.
My family and I began a Facebook Page (Teens and Adults on the Autism Spectrum) where people from that age group with ASD can come along, interact and be supported. This page is also intended to be read by our caregivers, teachers and professionals who work with those of us affected by autism. We want to eventually expand ourselves beyond Facebook and into the general community. Though as we’re very new we’re currently in the process of reaching a larger number of people to support.
In the meantime I myself am doing advocacy work in the field of autism. This I do in a few ways, including by giving public talks at seminars. To this day I have done various public speeches (ranging from a few minutes to over an hour long) at places including schools, mental health centres, Probus clubs, Lions clubs, funeral homes, universities, camps for teenagers on the autism spectrum and through social media.
There are various ways in which disability advocates can go about their work, and we all have a style of which we feel most comfortable with personally. Also it can be difficult many a time to determine the “right” or “wrong” ways of being a self-advocate. The style in which I myself feel most comfortable with is to have the goal of providing positive, uplifting and motivational messages to my audience as tokens to take away from the session afterwards. As a motivational speaker I may not always necessarily give a talk about autism itself, and the intended message/s aren’t solely for people with autism or any other disabilities.
For the past three years I’ve been doing Toastmasters which is an organisation where we’re taught public speaking and presentation skills. I’ve now completed my Competent Communicator course and am currently working on the advanced manuals.
In addition to my public talks I’m also writing monthly blogs for http://specialkids.company/
SpecialKids.Company design and sell stylish and age appropriate clothes tailored specifically for children (aged 2-14) with a variety of special needs. Those of us on the team also provide written resources for people of all ages with special needs (including autism which I myself have).
I’m also in the process of publishing a book “My Life is a Puzzle”. It will be written as an autobiography from my days of being a newborn child right through to the present day.