An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Hidden Potentials

Hi folks, my name is Scott James and it’s a pleasure to be here! When I was asked by Cindi to be one of the ‘guest bloggers’ this week, I had literally no idea what to write, or speak about. I’m a singer by trade, so blogging isn’t exactly a strong subject for me!

In the end, I decided to write about one of my most powerful experiences with Autism, as well as a (small) bit about my diagnosis. I’m going to try and largely focus on some of the joys for this post; the hardships can be many.. but for now it’s time to smile at just a couple of amazing people.

I was diagnosed at the age of 13. A bullied loner, I spent the majority of my teenage years living behind a closed bedroom door, rarely ever setting forth from it unless I really needed to. Fearful of others, I made a point of never initiating contact with other people aside from those I trusted; others largely ignored.

I was assessed after setting a house fire at a friend’s house. They had recently passed away and in my depression and rage at someone I trusted and cared for no longer being around, I set fire to his armchair. The police, in turn, forced doctors to take a closer look at me. After many months, and many experts consulted throughout the country, they finally settled on a diagnosis for me: Asperger’s Syndrome.

For years i’d been monitored by psychologists. Simply calling me an ‘only child’ and stating that that was the reason for my isolated and sometimes quirky behaviour seemed to fit just fine with them. It was only when they were truly pushed that they actually decided to dig deeper and find the real answer.

Despite having a diagnosis, we were never told what it entailed, nor did we receive any support. Because of this, we drifted for years, never truly knowing anything. With no support, we had to do everything our way.Ā  Then, in a strange twist of fate, I ended up becoming a singer at the age of 18; starting off in small working men’s clubs, and then making my way to the X Factor stage, performing in front of thousands. That whole tale is a story for another time. šŸ˜‰

Now I do a lot of Autism charity work in the UK, and sometimes abroad, and try to support groups and start-ups. I also released a charity Autism single, ‘Through My Eyes’, in 2011 and i’m also releasing a new track in March, called ‘Take A Ride (On The Sun)’. Be sure to keep an eye out for it! šŸ™‚

It was after X Factor that I could finally see Autism for what it really was, and not just a ‘demonic’ affliction as described by others to me as a child.

In the time since my diagnosis and my appearance on the X Factor, many Autism groups and charities have been set up. Many more people on the spectrum were receiving support; understanding of what life held for them. I was offered the chance to visit some of these charities and work with them and was astounded by what I saw. I had heard fleeting comments about how those on the spectrum were useless, and unable to amount to anything as a young teenager, so I wasn’t expecting the kind of things i’d come to see.

They were wrong. I met inspiration after inspiration after inspiration.

One such instance was at a show called ‘Autism’s Got Talent’. This event was hosted by the UK charity AnnaKennedyOnline to raise awareness and funds for their work, which involves the running of schools built specifically for young people on the Autism spectrum. It involved performances from those diagnosed with an ASD; something you wouldn’t expect to see happen in a million years! From singers to dancers, pianists to comedians, it was a plethora of inspiring talent of which I was proud to be a part of.

One such ‘act’ was a young man called Martin Finn. Some of you may know him from the BBC TV show ‘Autistic Superstars’. Heavily affected by Autism, he is largely non-verbal and will often pace a room; rarely sticking to one spot. Those not understanding of Autism may discount Martin.. but then he goes and does this. The below clip was taken from Autism’s Got Talent in May 2012. And what a surprise he had for us.

I was able to sneak into the front row to watch this performance between my slots, and it was an absolute marvel to behold. Martin well and truly brought the house down. Not only was it unexpected, but he nailed it to boot. Martin is such an inspiring individual and a beacon to all on the spectrum; proof that even the most severe forms of Autism can’t hold him back from what he truly wants to do.

AGT had a number of inspiring and amazing people on the spectrum. Be sure to look on YouTube for Carly Ryan (also from ‘Autistic Superstars’), James Hobley, Jake Lynch and Jack Thomas, to name a few! Some of the AGT performances can be found on one of my YouTube playlists: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9323B92331C662E4

My next bout of inspiration came from an event in Canada, the ‘Naturally Autistic ANCA awards’. Set up to recognize and reward people on the spectrum (and those working for Autism), we were invited to attend last October, where I was selected to be the recipient for 2012’s Performing Arts award. While that was an honor in itself, meeting other recipients and people related to the event (Samantha E being another artist on the spectrum that attended the awards), either directly or simply in the audience to view the spectacle, was amazing. There was so much talent there, so much passion, so much ability. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

I was told from a young age that being autistic meant that I would amount to nothing. That i’d be a failure in life. Because of it, I grew up feeling worthless and depressed.. and sometimes those feelings are hard to shake. Sure, i’ve gone about things differently in my time. But seeing and meeting people like this made me realise just how wrong these people were. That just because they may be different in ways doesn’t mean that they’re not worth fighting for.

My point is? Those on the spectrum have so much potential, from the performing arts (as in my experience), to literally anything they can dream of. Many reach it in their own ways, some may need help getting there. And this is why I support Cindi’s DogForDavid campaign. David hasn’t reached his potential yet, and could use some support. So let’s lend him a helping hand. A service dog would drastically increase his quality of life, make things easier for his Mom (who already has battles of her own), and allow David to do more, his way, with the support of a furry, drooling canine machine! Who knows what he can achieve?

So let’s do it. Let’s get a Dog for David! šŸ™‚

Also, i’d had this above post written before the events of David’s seizures but I just wanted to add that I hope he’s back to his normal self soon, and wish the family the very best. Get well soon, little guy! We’re thinking of you, Mom and Joshua.

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For more from the blog event
Autism: The Bigger Picture
please visit here. Thanks for reading! : )
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4 Comments

  1. Beautiful Scott. šŸ™‚ Absolutely beautiful… : )

  2. Gifts and talents and joy. Thank you for your guest post.

  3. Loved reading this. It is so good to hear someone talking of the positives of autism rather than focusing on the hard work, challenges and more negative seen aspects.

  4. Scott is pretty inspirational isn’t he? : ) If you want to hear him sing, check this out:

    šŸ™‚

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