Jellienke Winters | Autism-friendly Coach | Experience Trainer
In our course for Autism-friendly Coach we talk about the relationship between autism and communication. Starting points here are:
1) How can I be more effective in my communication? 2) How can I get to the same wavelength?
These questions have kept me occupied since secondary school when I did not even know I had some kind of autism. What I did know was that communication did not happen by itself and that it took me a lot of thinking and practice. In hindsight, it was precisely because it was not natural for me that I did not want to go into it in detail. The first time I experienced the power of consciously applying language was during my secondary job in a call centre in Haarlem. I got a fixed script in front of me and after a while I noticed to my great frustration that my efforts did not yield any sales. Instead of simply repeating the script repeatedly, I made the choice to rewrite the script. And with success! To the surprise of myself and my colleagues, potential clients suddenly accepted my offer. It fascinated me that with small adjustments in sentence structures I could bring about different behaviour in someone. My amazement became even greater when the Team Manager ordered the team to use my script. The great thing was that selling did not feel like work, but it offered me a safe playground where I could experiment with the effect of language. I wanted to further understand how it was possible to achieve a certain goal with the conscious use of language. That is why I went looking for a degree course that dealt with research into the application of language and effective, targeted communication. This became a Bachelor of Language and Cultural Studies with a major in Communication Studies at the University of Utrecht. In addition to my studies, I started working as a salesperson so that I could directly test what I had learned in practice. Through all the practice I now know effortlessly which strategy I can use when I want to achieve a certain goal. Unfortunately, sensory overload and stress sometimes throw a spanner in the works. Another thing we pay a lot of attention to at the Autism Academy.
I did not immediately become a trainer. After my certification, I first worked for various organisations within the Autism world. I started as a volunteer at the NVA in 2015 and I also worked as a Marketing and Communication Officer at IQ coaches. Finally, in addition to my own company, I worked for more than two years as an Account Manager/Recruiter at ITvitae where I talked to people with autism daily and mediated to work. When I had given up ITvitae and had more time off, Marjon asked me to join the team. I did not have to think about that twice. As a trainer I can use my whole process and all my knowledge and experience about autism and communication to help others further. And people with autism are better understood. I could not dream of anything better! When I was a student, I was diagnosed with autism. Something that was at odds with my ability to communicate at the time because people with autism would have difficulty communicating. For that reason, I still oppose the stigma of the autistic person without social skills and I feel frustration when I hear that people with autism would be disturbed by contact. People with autism want contact just like other people and can learn communication skills very well! Anyway, I am struggling with stigma and prejudice just like the other trainers at the Autism Academy. I always like to emphasize that every person with autism is unique and that you cannot pigeonhole people. Another stigma is that people with autism could not stand change. I am very fond of travelling and other cultures. I have been to Australia several times to study. Among other things for an exchange programme at Macquarie University in Sydney and from 2009 to 2011, when I did a Master’s in Communication Advertising at RMIT University in Melbourne. The changes were not the problem. What I stumbled over was that at the time I had no tools for how to deal with my autism and did not know my own limitations sufficiently. This caused my battery to run out more and more. This resulted in a major burnout in 2013 and I had to report sick to the Recruitment agency I was working for at that time. That is when I first sought help in the form of Individual Psychoeducation. My psychologist helped me realise how much impact my autism had on my daily life. I also learned during the sessions that autism also brings qualities. Through my Psychologist I encountered the book plan B. The whole book was for me a confirmation and a great sense of recognizing the examples. The authors Gijs and Marjon inspired me to also want to do something for other people with autism. I did not go back into sales. I wanted to make a difference for people with autism. We had to stop thinking in limitations. I wanted people with autism to see what possibilities they had.
In short, I had to change course drastically. In May 2015 I registered my own coaching practice Asspire. To be able to coach developmentally, I followed the Autism specialisation course at Martine Delfos. After that I followed the course to become an Autism-friendly Coach of the Autism Academy of Auticomm. I was sold from day one. This is where I feel at home.