Rosie Weldon received an autism diagnosis at 25, by no means either the beginning or end of her journey of self-discovery and world shaping. In her memoir, “My Autistic Fight Song”, she presents a raw, intense and very positive view into family, education, love and work from her autistic perspective.
‘My autistic fight song’ is a memoir that follows Rosie Weldon’s journey from a college drop out as she tries to achieve her dream of being a qualified accountant. With the odds stacked against her and the stakes high, she refuses to give up on her dream.https://www.amazon.co.uk/autistic-fight-song-adulthood-workplace-ebook/dp/B084Z73VXJ
Of two things Rosie was sure. First, she wanted to be an accountant. Second, she was destined to be alone. But when life threw at her an autism diagnosis and a mystery girl, she was left asking: who would employ her and was she capable of falling in love?
‘My autistic fight song’ is an honest and raw account of facing life as the underdog. When everyone around her doubts if she can, can she prove them wrong?
‘My autistic fight song’ sees Rosie face high school, sexuality, relationships, mental illness, education and work life.
‘My autistic fight song’ is intense and dramatic, yet heart-warming and uplifting. Through the darkest times of Rosie’s life there is love and laughter, a bittersweet balance of life’s cruelty and beauty.
Rosie Weldon presents an important set of insights as an adult autistic woman, an under-diagnosed and under-represented demographic group – we are far more likely to diagnose boys and men, and far more likely to see autism portrayed amongst boys, or presented as the experience of autistic men.
Rosie Weldon also has life experiences rarely seen within autistic autobiography – in a complex, blended family, she became primary carer for both her mother and an unexpected new sibling, whilst simultaneously attempting to complete college and gain admission to university. Her experiences of overlapping illness and workplace demands reveal great personal strength in very dark times.
Most of all, I was impressed by Rosie Weldon’s capacity to bluntly state her needs, her refusal to accommodate herself to unreasonable demands, and to shape her life and workplace into an amazing semblance of autism-friendly employment practices. Her struggles, disappointments and successes on that route are so resonant with other autistic experiences. She would make a great ambassador for autism. Some moments that particularly moved me and resonated with my own experiences are:
When she receives an award for Work-Based Learning (her most loathed subject), she first can not believe it and then “Mum wanted to frame it. I wanted to burn it. I didn’t want it. I didn’t deserve it. I threw it on my bed and turned my back to it.” The experience of praise and recognition can be so painful – straightforward statements of fact are far easier to accept than fulsome praise. The disparity between the highs and lows, between academic success in narrow areas and an overall sense of stalled progress can be so frustrating, almost suicidally so – the positives almost serve as a taunt to amplify the negatives. “I was a student on track to do academically well. I was a student on track to crash and burn as soon as university ended. I wanted it all to stop… I wanted my life, over.”
Throughout the book, Rosie Weldon presents her perspective of life, her normal, with a refreshing lack of pathologising language. There is her way of living, and no hint that her way is anything other than the right way to be. This positive attitude shines out during her diagnosis when asked if her language and routines cause problems with others, “Well there’s only one best way to do something. Find that and do it every time, right?” The medic, needless to say, appeared not to agree (or not to understand that an autistic person can simply be herself, without accommodating herself to a hostile world).
The joy of gaining her own private space – first her bedroom at home, and then later her own flat, can’t be understated. In her own place, there is no need to compromise, no need to adapt and no need to conform to impossible demands.
The area where Rosie Weldon absolutely shines is in her uncompromising insistence that work accommodate her, and not conforming herself into unreasonable work practices. The pressure on autistic people in traditional workplaces is immense, for instance in the simple act of placing a telephone call and the reliance of so many workplaces on this single, threatening form of communication. In converting the demand into a text message to a friendly colleague, she both exposes her vulnerability – “It was so simple for him to do what I couldn’t. I was a useless part of the team and I just wanted to go home” – and changes the work practice for everyone who follows in her footsteps. Rigid workplaces fail to make the best of their staff, but additionally have a negative impact on self-esteem: “Help, I always needed help. I needed help at university. I always needed help. I was useless by myself.” Firstly, nobody should be forced to ask for obvious accommodation to perform their work, and secondly, nobody should feel grateful or useless for asking.
In another instance, her manager skips over forcing her to introduce herself to a new group, slipping a description of her role into his own introduction and saving her from extreme discomfort. “He knew how much distress it would have put me in. I was safe with him.” So many workplaces need a Rosie Weldon to change perceptions. “Nobody ever understands sensory overload. Everybody always thinks we are overreacting.… She had moved the machine. She had moved the loud machine into a separate room, so it wouldn’t push me to sensory overload each week. She wasn’t a boss full of talk. She was someone who acted on her words. She had seen something causing me a problem and fixed it. I could trust her.”
This informative memoir is much more than a memoir; it is an essential read for anyone struggling with mental illness, autism or a disability and for everyone working hard to win their personal battles.https://publishingpush.com/blog/coming-soon-my-autistic-fight-song-rosie-weldon/