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‘When I get support, it’s a working-together-and-helping-each-other-thing’: Josie’s story

Josie, who’s in her twenties and lives at our supported living service in Morecambe, on the Lancashire coast, uses art to help her communicate and express her feelings.

Last year, Josie moved to her new home, a self-contained one-bedroom apartment that’s just a short walk from the beach. As Josie grew up in Morecambe, she knows the town well.

When she’s not making art, Josie, who’s on the autism spectrum, volunteers for a homeless shelter. She also sells her artwork to raise money for charity.

Josie wants to share her story – including her art, thoughts on autism, and the support she receives – to inspire others. So, we’ve published it below.

You’re an inspiration, Josie – and we love to support you!

Josie’s story:

Hi I’m Josie and I am an artist and illustrator on the autism spectrum.

Art has always been an important part of my life, especially when I was a child. It was one of the ways I communicated and expressed my feelings.

For example when I was a child and I went in a [exhibit of a] human body (because I begged my parents to go in) I didn’t expect it to be scary; a model of the human heart moving terrified me. When we got back to my aunty’s house, I drew a picture of the heart, [and] me and my parents, and showed it to my mum [to show] how scared I was of it.

Drawing was always one of my hobbies that kept me happy and calm from a young age, for me personally I see it as not just as a talent but almost as my child.

My family has kept the artwork and drawings I did over the years, like the Valentine’s Day card I drew in a cartoony style when I was seven years old.

Mermaid art project

A few years ago, I did an art project titled ‘The Mermaids of Morecambe” because of my love for mermaids and I wanted my hometown to become more known; now I am selling my artwork as mugs, greeting cards, printed copies, etc. I even recently did a couple of paintings about autism acceptance.

If someone were to ask me what autism is, if it were a condition, a brain disorder or a disability I would say: “It would be called those things so that I and any individual would get the help and support that we need, but I would personally call it a ‘brain difference,’ something that’s not the norm.”

Josie posing with some of her artwork. 

People with autism are not all the same. I might be good at art and not have a problem with eye contact, but some autistic people [are] not good at art and have different hobbies and interests and some will have trouble with eye contact.

‘It’s not something you catch like a cold’

Autism is something you are born with, including different strengths and weaknesses. It’s not something you can catch like a cold and it’s something [you] can’t change or cure.

I mean there are autistic individuals out there who have created amazing things, like the movie “Ghostbusters” from 1984 and [a part of the] fanbase of ‘Pokemon’.

‘I love Lifeways’

I love Lifeways because I feel I have more freedom having my own place; the staff are amazing, they don’t patronise. They focus on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses as well as doing training on disabilities.

When I get support, it’s a working-together-and-helping-each-other-thing instead of being treated like I’m helpless and being patronised. The support team even want to learn from you when they see what you’re good at.

Thank you everyone from Lifeways.

About Lifeways:

With a workforce of 11,000 professionals who support almost 5,000 individuals across England, Scotland and Wales, Lifeways is the UK’s largest team of support professionals who provide support to adults in the community.

We support adults with diverse and complex needs. These needs include autism, learning disabilities, mental health conditions physical disabilities, and acquired brain injuries.

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