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Hi there, I’m Ryan Cuzen, Scottish born and bred from the City of Glasgow. I’m also on the autistic spectrum. I’m currently on a course at City of Glasgow College. To help me I get assistance in class from the learning support department who are highly efficient, which, I’m grateful for so thanks to Stephen and the team.

Let me tell you a bit about this fantastic new Transition Fund from ILF Scotland. Being 21 and in transition, I’m very lucky to be involved in helping promote the fund. You may see my face pop up on the website, I’m the one wearing odd looking goggles, my glasses fall off when I sprint. I was also lucky enough to do a radio and TV interview with Ian Hamilton at the BBC.

I’ve applied to the fund for help with martial arts and driving lessons, both I’ve wanted to do for some time.

As I’m sure many of you can imagine, being ASD means stress and anxiety daily. I feel both martial arts and driving lessons can give me skills to help me cope better. My disability shouldn’t have to mean complete inability.

Learning martial arts will, I hope, help build my confidence which is something I struggle with. I feel awkward out and about, even when I’m with people I know. Learning this skill will give me the confidence to feel safe.

Learning to drive is a big one too. When I go out my anxieties are increased, sensory issues go through the roof. Walking in busy areas everything’s magnified, lots of people, footsteps, traffic noise, voices all overload on my senses. It’s like a tsunami, everything rushing towards me at once! This makes moving around so difficult, my brain exhausted.

Train journeys – I tried with my Mum and others, packed in tightly, unable to move, people pushing against me, smells, noises, train screeching on the rails. My day feels broken before it’s begun. Imagine glass shattering in front of you, lots of shards falling apart into a heap, anxieties rising to boiling point and I’m not yet even through the college door.

The car is like a sanctuary, the noise is drowned out, it’s calm, no one pushing against me, all the other problems that transport brings don’t get in your car with you.

That awkward moment, feeling socially awkward, saying the wrong thing then you wish you hadn’t spoken, yes it happened lots, I now often don’t say anything, scared I’ll mess it up. I think being part of a club and the martial arts community will help develop my social skills. I can learn from others and feel I can contribute to this community, working together to learn new skills will help achieve my goals. Learning how to drive will make me feel part of a community, a community of drivers who get to get behind the wheel of their car and take control.

I will need support in life but this doesn’t stop me also seeking some degree of independence. I am socially isolated so to feel as if I’m breaking out of my shell, breaking down social barriers. Wow. Accessing martial arts and driving lessons will help me as they can give me more independence. Doing an adult orientated activity and being the one in the driving seat, even if I do have someone in the car with me will give me a level of independence, I will be in control of driving, I can drive to college, to marital arts or to visit my family. I could one day support others. I will drive my vision/dream forward.

Feeling confident and included, what an amazing feeling that would be. I think with help from the ILF Transition Fund I could see my dream become a reality and encourage other young people to see, we can turn our disabilities into abilities, showing we can be confident and independent members of our community.