EXCLUSIVE: Beauty And The Geek’s Kyle Blaize reveals what he wants you to understand about neurodiverse people

“I was never really hesitant to talk about being on the spectrum."

By Faye Couros
Beauty and the Geek's Kyle Blaize opened up to Beauty Leticia Llanos about his autism on their date.
Kyle explains to Leticia what it's like living on the spectrum in the poignant scene, and her pure reaction resulted in a beautiful bonding moment between them.
Living within a neurotypical society like Australia comes with many challenges and prejudices, which is why Kyle's decision to bring this narrative to reality TV is important.
Speaking with TV Week the history novice shared why he decided to talk about his autism, and what he wants neurotypical individuals to understand about neurodiverse people.
Kyle is in a couple with Leticia. Instagram
"I was never really hesitant to talk about being on the spectrum.
"I felt it was a good idea to tell Leticia about it to kind of give her a bit of an idea into my world and how I view things. Because it's one thing to come off as normal because I have been told many times I don't seem like I'm on the spectrum, and that's because I have learnt over the years the way to appear," says Kyle.
It was essential to Kyle that neurotypical people who watched the scene would gain some more awareness.
"For me, it felt very opening and very freeing to let someone in a bit to know about this. It's not typically talked about on TV, and autism has been around for so long that I guess I wanted to have a way of reminding people that this is out there," he explains. "And to bring it a bit more into the light again because I think it's only been within the last five years or so that we've actually started to get real help from people on the spectrum."
As for how he felt about Leticia's reaction, he couldn't have been happier about her openness and genuine interest.
"I think Leticia took it really well. Her engagement and interest in getting to know and understand autism was fantastic."
"I felt it was a good idea to tell Leticia about it to kind of give her a bit of an idea into my world." Instagram
Autism is a nuanced development disorder that exists on a spectrum and manifests uniquely within different individuals.
However, this isn't necessarily understood by neurotypical people who aren't aware of the common misconceptions that disenfranchise the disorder.
"Autism is a development disorder which is the common misconception that people think it's a mental disorder, but it's just that you are just learning the way to deal with things, and everyone is different," says Kyle.
Fortunately, governmental and cultural changes have occurred over the past few years, which have made it easier for kids with autism to thrive.
In November 2018, the Australian government provided almost $4 million for funding and research.
Kyle explains that while he is grateful that these shifts are happening now, adding that the education and health system failed him growing up.
Workplaces have historically discriminated against autistic people. Instagram
"[Now the] government helps, particularly [with] subsidies for young children, because when I was growing there was nothing like that, it was really just the doctor would find out you're on the spectrum and say, 'Hey your kid has got autism and bye-bye.'"
"And it's not until more recently that we're seeing some help and some support groups to really help people understand what autism is. And we are seeing on social media, on YouTube we are seeing YouTubers that have autism finally having a platform to really inform people about it," he explains.
Navigating a neurotypical society comes with challenges brought on by ableism and lack of education, which makes life harder than necessary for neurodiverse individuals.
Kyle has found that this can be a huge problem in the workplace, and as a result, people with autism can feel ostracised.
"One of the reasons I wanted to talk about it is because there is this strange stigma around the term autism.
"Especially if you let it slip out in the workplace and say, 'Yeah, I have got autism,' you suddenly have labelled yourself. And it has a negative stigma to it where people are like, 'Oh, there is something really wrong with you then.'
"There is this strange stigma around the term autism." Instagram
"Your employers may start to think is it really worth having you onboard because you may have to take a bit more direction, and I don't think that's fair."
Kyle is speaking to a very real issue that affects people on the spectrum.
In 2018 a study commissioned by the peak body for autistic people, Amaze, found that "54 per cent of autistic Australians have never held a paid job, despite often possessing the skills, qualifications and a strong desire to join the workforce."
It's increasingly crucial that allies step up and show support for their neurodiverse peers to help elevate the messages that Kyle is advocating for, which are at their crux fundamental human rights and courtesy.
"I wanted to get it across that we are normal people, there is nothing wrong with us, our brains just process things differently, and it's how we see the world," says the 22-year-old.

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