Allie Mason – Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2022
Name: Allie Mason
ND Type: Autistic
What do you do: Talent Coordinator, Children’s Author and Inclusive Sports Advocate
Where do you live: Cheltenham, UK
How did you start your day today? Do you have a morning routine? What do you have for breakfast, do you think a good diet is important?
I have my morning routine saved onto my smart watch, so all I have to remember to do when I wake up is to put the watch on and then I can follow the steps that I have saved there. I try to start my day by filling up my 2L water bottle, followed by some gentle stretches and naming one thing that I am grateful for that day. Then I take my dog for a walk, eating breakfast on my return before getting showered and dressed for work. I like to aim to eat something nutritious for breakfast but I don’t always succeed! A balanced diet is very important but also a challenge to consistently achieve.
How do you stay active? And what do you do to relax?
I am a keen rollerskater and currently training for the Berlin marathon in September 2022. I also stay very active through having a young Labrador who needs lots of walking! My go-to method of relaxing is to listen to an ASMR video whilst I paint my nails. I have been learning German since I was 12 years old, so I try to listen to the videos in German when I can to keep up my language skills.
Do you have a favourite word or phrase?
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” – Lousia May Alcott
Have you read anything good recently? Is there a book that changed your life?
I was an avid reader as a child, often getting told off for reading in lessons when I should have been studying! Sadly, I’ve not felt that I’ve had the time to read much recently. The book that is changing my life as we speak is the one that I am currently writing (The Autistic Guide to Adventure). I have always wanted to be an author, so I am immensely grateful to have this opportunity to achieve one of my childhood dreams. However, my younger self was definitely wearing rose-tinted glasses when she decided on this path. To say it is hard work would be an understatement.
Which 5 albums would you want to have with you on a desert island?
I’m not much of a music connoisseur, so I’m going to cheat and take 5 books instead!
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (so that I might finally finish it)
- Reekie’s Routes by David Reekie (my late great grandfather’s memoir)
- Maybe a Famous Five book from Enid Blyton?
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
My great grandfather once told me “never deviate from your chosen path” and that has become my mantra in life.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you were a grown-up? And what was your first Job?
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to be an author when I grew up. As a child, I read a lot of Enid Blyton books and adored her adventure-seeking characters. If I remember rightly, I think that my first ever job was working on a grocery stall at a local market on a Saturday morning. I had to catch the bus at 6am just to get there on time.
What do you do now and how did you get into it?
I currently work as a Talent Coordinator for an environmental consultancy, which is a role I kind of fell into as it doesn’t relate to either of my university degrees. However, I really enjoy it and am also able to spend my free time writing my book.
Creativity and thinking differently are often credited to neurodiversity. Would you say that is true? And if yes, could you give an example?
I absolutely consider this to be true. An example would be the way in which I approached assignments at school, college and university. I would always take a creative approach even if this wasn’t specifically required. I remember presenting one of my university assignments as an Instagram feed and getting really positive feedback from my department for it.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus, what do you do to get back on track? Do you have any hacks, tips or do you use any apps to keep you on track during the day?
When I start to feel this way, it is usually because my senses are overstimulated. So I tend to put on noise-cancelling headphones and sunglasses to minimise the sensory input that I am receiving, in order to increase my focus on the task at hand. Sometimes I will also step outside to take a few deep breaths in the fresh air to recentre myself before continuing with my work.
How does your Neurodiversity affect new relationships? This can be professionally, socially or romantically.
Being autistic means that I can feel very anxious about forming new relationships, as I worry about being misunderstood or accidentally offending someone. However, I have found that honesty is always the best policy and I personally choose to be very open about being autistic with new people that I meet. I’m fortunate that disclosure has only ever been a positive experience for me.
What makes you happy?
So many things – dogs, smooth coffee, starry night skies, spending time with the people I love, exploring new places, collecting pretty stones, snuggling up with a hot chocolate and a book under a weighted blanket … I could go on!
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
This is such a tough question to answer. Right now, I feel that my biggest achievement is simply that I am thriving as an autistic adult. I spent many years as a teenager afraid that life would be too much for me, that I would always be held back by what at the time I thought was poor mental health. Since receiving my autism diagnosis at 23, my life has changed for the better and I am more comfortable in my own skin than ever before.
Do you have a Positive ND message to the world? Imagine you have a £5 million advertising campaign to spend on billboards all over the world, what would you say?
I would reiterate my great grandfather’s advice: never deviate from your chosen path. If something makes you light up inside, do that thing and don’t let anyone else’s doubts lead you astray.
Final question – where can people find out more about you? Do you have a website and social media pages?