Adult Education Helps People with Disabilities have Better Lives

I always wanted to be an artist because I am very artistic and imaginative. I think my disability made my brain more creative and that’s just what I wanted to do in life. Lots of people with Autism are very special. They have a gift of seeing things that other people don’t see.

When I started in adult education at Ability@Work they understood my goals and dreams and they really supported me all the way through. They didn’t laugh at my dream to be an artist; they took me seriously. I did an Art course in Newbury House and took part in Art Link and now I am doing a CE (Community Employment) Scheme as a Visual Artist.  I am working at what I love.  

After starting adult education, my life started going really well. My independence went really well. Even during the lockdown, I kept myself really busy working from home. I have completed lots of online courses during the lockdown so even that couldn’t stop me because I’m determined. 

I started getting interested in painting famous Cork buildings and people are really loving them. I have painted the Opera House, Shandon Bells, and Fitzgerald’s Park, the Crawford Art Gallery as well as loads of other places. I even painted Áras an Uachtaráin and I had the confidence to send this painting to the President of Ireland. He sent me a lovely letter back thanking me for doing it and he said he would put the painting up in his house.  

Now people give me orders of paintings to do. I get paid for it and I have my own Instagram page with all my paintings. I also make miniature things and characters out of clay. I have way more confidence in myself. It just seems like finally things are going towards what I had always planned. 

I don’t want people to be making decisions about my life. I want to be making my own decisions. I just want a normal life like everybody else. I want to be independent, have my own dream house. I want to be in a relationship with a nice girl and get married someday. I have big dreams about having my own art studio in the future. 

I think people with different abilities should go back to adult education because they need to believe that they can have a normal life with a job and their own independence. Other people out there are very talented but they just don’t realise it. You will find a course that you love and it will be interesting for you. Just make sure it’s what you want to do and not what other people want you to do. 

think the government need to listen more, they need to understand more, need to listen to people’s dreams. You know I think it would be great if somebody high up in the government really knew what it was like to have a disability or maybe if they even had a family member with a disability. Just so they would know what we are about. I’m a human being and I want to have the same rights as other human beings. 

This story is Part of the Learners as Leaders activity within AONTAS’ current project ‘Adult and Community Education: Supported Learner Pathways 2020-2021’ as part of the European Agenda for Adult Learning.