Like a lot of autistic people, school was a nightmare for me. And yet, one or two teachers helped make things a little bit better. And the teacher that stands out the most for me in this way was a Susan Brambell. She was my Form Room teacher in Transition Year, a year that focuses more on personal development and creativity than on exams. A year that did so much for my mental health at the time. And a very important part of this equation was Susan. But once I left school I admit I didn’t really think of her again, except maybe to wonder how she was getting on. One memory did stand out in my mind though, and that was her saying that if she ever woke up one morning dreading to go to school, that she would quit. Not for her the golden handcuffs of staying in a job she hated, and perhaps having that effect her students, just for the pension at the end.
Cut to last week, when I was perusing an article entitled Two hundred Irish retailers for all your online Christmas shopping. And I came across a charming business called The Word Bird which makes word clouds frames into beautiful works of art. And who was the creative genius behind this endeavour? A certain Susan Brambell. Seems the fateful morning must have come when her heart was no longer into fighting the drudgery that is now the modern school system. Or something.
So I got the bright idea of commissioning a custom print off her, celebrating the positives of being autistic. I enlisted the help of several friends and got ready a list of 120 adjectives that describe being autistic to me. Sure, I may get accused of being biased and leaving out the negative stuff, but that’s the whole point! I’m sick to death of negative adjectives being used to describe us and wanted something to describe Autistic Pride.
So I emailed Susan and she remembered me from school. That first reply literally brought tears to my eyes and confirmed to me what a truly genuine human being she is. She then came back with a digital file of the image in record time. I am so impressed with it, and the talent she has in making things look beautiful. She then put the icing on the cake when she refused payment for her hard work.
Susan Brambell, thank you so much. You are like a star that makes the dark times less dark. I wish you every success in your business and in your life.
And to everyone still looking for something a bit different to give a loved one this Christmas, I guarantee a print from The Word Bird will go down a treat…