World Autism Day - '60 Seconds with’… Sadie Graham-Mulvaney
02/04/2021 00:00, In Blog /
World Autism Awareness Day, 2 April 2021 ‘60 Seconds with’… Sadie Graham-Mulvaney
via UK Athletics
For advice and guidance about autism contact: National Autistic Society (NAS)
The fourteenth annual World Autism Awareness Day is 2 April 2021. Joined by the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes, and communities around the world come together on 2 April, Autism Awareness Day, to Light It Up Blue in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month, aiming to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, foster worldwide support and inspire a kinder, more inclusive world.” In support of World Autism Day, our ‘60 seconds with’ feature is with Sadie Mulvaney, a talented Welsh athlete, sharing her thoughts on autism.
When did you come aware of your autism?
This would have been in primary school, aged around 10 years old, as I realised, I wasn't like the other children around me. I then later learned from my parents when I was 15 years old about my formal diagnosis at the age of 7. I was diagnosed with "Autistic Spectrum Condition" (ASC).
What support have you received?
My secondary school and my family have all been a great help to me.
What does World Autism Day mean to you?
For me, this is another opportunity to talk about Autism openly and to recognise and explain what Autism means and be able to break down the stereotypes of what people think Autism is.
How old are you and where do you live?
I have recently turned 18 and I currently live within South Wales.
What are your main events in athletics and what are your personal bests?
100m (12.79w), 200m (26.88w) and Triple jump (10.01m).
What are your best achievements in athletics?
To date, I would say, being selected (following application) as a Young Athlete Voice for Welsh Athletics, becoming the U17 100m Welsh Champion 2019, and the Gloucestershire English schools Triple Jump champion 2019, gaining selection to represent Gloucestershire County at the South West English Schools Championships for two consecutive years (twice in the 100m, once for the triple jump), achieving the England Indoor championship 60m qualifying standard for consecutive years since starting athletics as an U15.
Who is your role model and why?
I would love to know of an elite GB international athlete with Autism as a role model, to aspire towards.
In the sport of athletics, in your opinion how can we support others with autism?
In my opinion, I would like to suggest Autistic athletes could wear wristbands with the Autism logo at competitions if they felt comfortable to do so. A poster or competition program could have the same logo, and a brief description of Autism and how to approach/support Autistic athletes during competitions; have a designated competition warm-up area and/or call room to reduce the sensory overload that can exacerbate anxiety levels, which ultimately affects our performance. If this is not possible, perhaps we could be permitted to wear either noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs?
What has been your coping mechanisms during the pandemic?
Unfortunately, I did not have that many coping mechanisms. The pandemic has been a stressful challenge as all my normal routines changed. This affected me dramatically and eventually I lost my ability to train for a while. However, on a positive note I received even more emotional support and guidance from my family which allowed me to restart training again.
What key message do you want to share about autism with anyone who is reading this?
That Autism is a neurological condition that does not discriminate, it can affect anybody, and every Autistic person is different and unique in their own way.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully, in 5 years time, I would have completed my studies in university and still be training and competing at a national level. Also becoming a spokesperson for the Autistic community through my athletics and modelling.
What is your vision for UK Athletics?
It would be great to see the delivery of disability awareness training as a compulsory element of the coach and official education program, and not an optional extra at a later date.
What do you want your legacy to be?
The person who fought to strive in life and go against people’s expectations of Autistic people only being able to achieve a limited amount of goals. I would also like to be the voice and source of encouragement for other young Autistic people, to let them know that they can achieve and do whatever they want despite other people’s negative biased opinions.
Follow Sadie on Instagram: @scgmulvers