Before being offered a place to study with us, Beth Evans had never even visited the area, but she’d heard Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) had an excellent reputation for make-up courses.
So far, the BA (Hons) Make-up for Media and Performance degree has helped her discover a love for creating looks for fashion, brides, and fantasy. But she’s also discovered something else about herself. Something that's redefined her identity and led her to support others.
When Beth first joined AUB, she was sent an email about screening for dyslexia and dyspraxia. It revealed she showed signs of these conditions, so she was referred to the disability department and provided with additional support.
Beth’s diagnosis hasn’t held her back. In fact, it’s opened doors to incredible opportunities. Now, when she’s not creating candy-inspired make-up looks, Beth is raising awareness as a member of the National Neurodiversity Youth Council. Recently, she was interviewed by BBC Newsbeat about her story and role.
Beth’s diagnosis story
Beth explains, “I was diagnosed at the start of university. But it wasn’t a big shock. I thought I might have dyslexia, but I didn't really know about dyspraxia. It’s not something that gets spoken about very often.”
She’d always asked herself, “Why can't I spell properly? Why am I forgetting everything? [...] falling over? [...] dropping things? Why can't I drink a drink without pouring it down myself?
Then she was diagnosed and it all made sense. It suddenly lifted a lot of the frustration she felt. Beth says, “I never experienced validation like that before. I’d spent 18 years not knowing, which is crazy because it’s a big part of who I am.
“If it wasn’t for AUB, I wouldn’t have been screened. I have friends at other universities that weren’t offered this. I also wouldn’t be here talking about my experience, and I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now.”
One of those opportunities is becoming a member of the new council giving a voice to young people with neurocognitive differences.
The ADHD Foundation has partnered with Autistica, Dyspraxia Foundation, Dyslexia Scotland, Tourette’s Action, and the Dyscalculia Network to launch The National Neurodiversity Youth Council.
This unique project has involved creating a forum of young people, aged 16-24, to represent each charity. The Council is working to bring youth voices into the national conversation about neurodiversity.
One of the first goals of the Council is to meet with UN officials at The United Nations Office in Geneva in early 2024. Here, they'll advocate for visibility and inclusion.
Something needs to change
Beth had joined the Dyspraxia Foundation Facebook group when she was first diagnosed. It gave her the chance to speak to others who had faced similar experiences.
When she saw the Dyspraxia Foundation were looking for ambassadors, she instantly applied. Shortly after she was accepted, she saw a form to be part of the National Neurodiversity Youth Council. It wasn’t long after she received a phone call saying she'd be a member.
Since February, the Council has been meeting monthly. Beth explains, “It’s frustrating as we’ve all had so many similar issues. Why are so many people struggling? We’re getting penalised but it’s not a choice to be neurodiverse.
“We really want to make a change and raise awareness, whether that’s through policy or getting young people involved in the conversation around diversity. It’s something I’m passionate about and I’d love to go and speak in schools to help people get diagnoses and the support they need.”
Breaking down barriers
Beth questions whether she would've chosen a make-up course if she’d known she has dyspraxia. She explains, “Dyspraxia is a lot to cope with daily. Sometimes it's frustrating because I'll drop my brushes and I'll bump into my model. I struggle with spatial awareness and coordination. That's what dyspraxia is.”
When you ask Beth what she wishes that people knew about neurodiversity, this is what she says:
“I wish people knew that it's not weird. We’re not strange. We’re like everyone else. There’s a divide between people that are neurotypical and not. I think maybe it's a childhood thing, because kids always see differences rather than similarities.
“You can still do whatever you like, being neurodiverse. It means you've got more challenges, and you've got some barriers in the way. But I'd still encourage anyone to do anything they want to because you've got to do what you enjoy. What's the point otherwise?”
Listen to Beth on BBC Newsbeat
Beth was recently interviewed by the BBC about her diagnosis and role in the National Neurodiversity Youth Council. “I think it was interesting for them because dyspraxia is physical, and I do a physical course. It was a great experience – I was quite nervous though.
“I didn't really expect them to choose my story. I'm just like everyone else - I don't really have anything interesting to say! We got my friend in and I had to describe what I was doing in the studio. It was nice that I could do it on campus as it’s somewhere I feel comfortable.”