SPEAKER and journalist Shellique Carby-Bird held an autism awareness talk at Mbango Valley on Friday. Carby-Bird, also diagnosed autistic, said the purpose of the talk was to touch people’s lives. “As someone who has experienced the disease first-hand I disagree with people who do not want to acknowledge the fact that people with autism suffer, we suffer a lot.” She said people living with autism suffer a myriad problems relating to health, social coherence and psyche. “I was bullied and harassed throughout school and although I now hold a degree in journalism and anthropology, I battled throughout university because I also had a learning disability, and lecturers would not allow me an extension I needed for my exams. “The problems and judgments continued throughout my working life when my bosses could not understand that I needed to be in a secluded space to be able to function,” she said. Carby-Bird, who grew up in Hillcrest, but now lives in Pietermaritzburg, said her motivation to persevere came from her hunger for independence. “I believe in a holistic approach and decided not to rely on pills and medication alone as the solution [to my autism],” said Carby-Bird.Despite her disability Carby-Bird has managed to hold several positions at the Association for Autism and Autism South Africa (ASA). She also wrote for UK-based autism newsletter, Aspirations, was a sub-editor at South Coast Fever, DisAbility Connexion and is now a content developer for an international company.