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#Future Loading is a project where Dark Horse Theatre worked with adults and aspiring adults. In this video they interview three young people with learning disabilities or who are neurodiverse and ask them about what it means to be an adult.
The three adults are Arjun, Ellie and Firielle. They all think of themselves as adults but they didn’t necessarily become adults at the official time like 16 or 18. They all have an idea of what being an adult means and they all have plans for their future.
It is really inspiring and lovely. Arjun, Ellie and Firielle all seem like really nice people with good plans and I really hope they go on to achieve them and that they are really happy. The interviewer is good, they ask the questions clearly but they are not patronising and they listen to the replies. Arjun reveals that he has autism but Ellie and Firielle don’t name their disabilities and I don’t think they needed to because this is about their individuality and people think of their disabilities as being part of their individuality to different extents.
Arjun, Ellie and Firielle don't appear on screen but there are animations which give you an idea of what they look like and you see the animations in the situations which the three people describe. It is clever and interesting and I really like the way it gives the three people privacy but the words were the important thing for me.
I think this is a really good idea and a good project but some things in it made me sad and I think maybe they did not look at the full range of adults and the different ways of having a positive life. For example Arjun says that being an adult is hiding his autism. That is very sad. There are some behaviours that are common in autistic people which maybe aren’t the ideal way to behave (and I think it is important to say they are not just autistic traits, sometimes people without autism behave like that too) but some traits of autism don’t hurt anybody and they are actually a really lovely part of their personality. It is good for anyone to learn to control behaviours that don’t help but it is sad if people believe they need to hide who they are.
Also all three of them talked about adults as people who are independent and have jobs. This is something which most adults do and it is really good these three adults have been encouraged to think of work and independence as a possibility for them. Some people are told they are not capable and they will never be capable and this is not always true.
But sometimes for all sorts of different reasons there are adults who are unable to work or be independent and I do not think this makes them less of an adult or less of a person.
The first reason is that there are not enough jobs for everybody. At any time there are a lot of people who are out of work and it can be difficult to get a job. Nobody can discriminate against anybody because of their disability but it is not that difficult for an employer to find another reason not to give a disabled person a job.
The second reason is that different disabilities can make it very difficult for people to manage socially, emotionally or psychologically in the workplace. It is impossible to set up a workplace which is comfortable for everybody and a lot of people with disabilities are the people who would have the most trouble with this. A lot of people are fighting against this now but not all workplaces are a good atmosphere even for people without disabilities and they can be especially harmful for anyone who is vulnerable. It is not even a case of making really big adaptions, sometimes it is just that people who are a bit different are left out or made fun of and nobody will do anything about it.
Independence is also difficult. People have problems with different things and sometimes doing an independent thing means doing one of the things your disability makes very difficult or impossible. I think everyone has things they can’t do even if they are not disabled and it is okay to have help from other people. It does not mean you aren’t independent. I think some people have help with tax stuff because not everyone is good at maths or finds it easy to fill in forms. Some people have help with computers because lots of things are online now and not everyone finds it easy. Some people find shopping hard because it is a big and noisy environment and it can be difficult to find things and you might need lots of emotional or social stamina. I think it is okay to need help and you can still be an adult if you need help.
I think being an adult is knowing your own limits. Learning to do what you can do alone (which might not be the same every day) and knowing when you need somebody else to help you. I don’t think this is something you just learn. I think you can keep learning new things all the time and your limits can change. Even if you don’t have a disability you have to learn things like when it’s okay to do DIY and when you need to call an expert and that won’t be the same for every person because some people have more knowledge than others.
This programme did not say that people who can’t work or people who need help aren’t proper adults and I am sure they don’t believe that. But I think it is sad that they did not include an adult who does not have work as an option and does need a lot of support but still sees their life as positive and does good things for other people. Doing small things for people counts too and sometimes they are the most important things.