Being Me: William

Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety as a child, 25-year-old William Luskie is now an advocate for Kiwis living with a disability, and always has a creative project on the go.

William Luskie is a 25 year-old dancer and artist living in Dunedin. He catches the bus into town, meets up with friends and lives with his cat, Monty. He is a Disability Advocate and Advisor for the Donald Beasley Institute and a self-described ‘Platist’.

When he was 14 he was diagnosed with autism and aspergers but he does not let this stop him; “I think I’m just a normal human being, it’s just my confidence and anxiety that plays up.”

Will has been living in many different houses in the residential service sector, and other people have done the decision-making for him.

But recently he has decided he wants to make the decisions for himself and take control of his own life, he says “I’m just trying to explore who I am and fight for my own self.”

Will describes himself as a ‘Platist’ which he defines as “When you have too much on your plate and it’s just trying to have a diverse range of activities or tasks or interests in your daily life.”

As a Disability Advocate and Advisor at the Donald Beasley Institute, William researches education in the field of disability, with a particular focus on learning disability. Will’s role is to help come up with ideas in the theorising part of the Institute.

His mentors at the Institute are helping him to research the different options for housing which he could pursue to increase his independence.

When he was looking for a new place to live to get out of residential service homes, Mel Smith General Manager of CCS Disability Action says “In true Will fashion he just keeps going and keeps looking for the next solution and the next idea.”

Will loves to dance to express himself, and last year he did a solo which told the story of all of his thoughts and feelings. He dances with Hahna Briggs who co-founded the Gasp! Dance Collective, an inclusive dance class. Hahna believes; “Dance is just such an amazing art form for anyone that maybe finds words difficult or for some people who have a lot of words to express themselves.”

He also enjoys art which he does at Studio 2, “I just started coming here to express myself.”

That same creative desire to express himself has led him to explore public speaking where one day Will wandered into a Toastmasters class, “It’s helping me in terms of public speaking, I just need to keep expanding and growing.”

Will is also striving to put more effort into making friends, “I’ve sort of not really engaged or invested enough emotionally or socially in friendships, I find it sort of easier in a professional relationship.”

A sentiment supported by Will’s friend Josh,”I’ve seen a significant change in his confidence, he’s still got a long way to go but he’ll get there.”
Winning the Leadership Award at the 2018 Attitude Awards is proof that Will’s way of embracing life is paying off. To have the self-belief and confidence to know “I’ve got this” shows how far Will has come. Mel Smith believes “the journey that he’s made, he’s been braver than most of us ever have to be.”