Member Profiles: Christopher Whitelegge

At a recent meeting of the Community Voice, the group decided that it would be good to have profiles of members on the website. We thought this would be a good way for people who don’t know our organisation to hear more about what we do and what our members are like. The Community Voice group decided on a list of questions that would be good to ask members – including questions about themselves, autism and about I AM.

Christopher has been a member of I AM for nearly 21 years  – he volunteered to be our third member to be interviewed for a Member Profile. Christopher was interviewed by one of our Trustees Dr Debra Bradley.

Member profile – Christopher Whitelegge

Christopher is 36. He lives with his parents.  He lived in Longsight until he was 11 when he moved to Northenden. He went to Newall Green High School and then to Loreto College and South Trafford College.  He has done different computer courses including ECDL and ITQ levels 1 and 2.

Christopher has done different volunteering jobs in the past – he has worked in a few different charity shops and a café.  For the past 3 months he has been volunteering at a book shop in Sale run by the Global Education Trust.  He works there 2 days a week and has enjoyed meeting new people. Working there has helped his confidence – another advantage is that he can borrow books from the shop.

What is your favourite food?

It’s hard to say a favourite because I like various things – lots of different foods.  If I had to choose a favourite meal, I’d say pizza or steak.  Meat feast is the best kind of pizza.

What is your favourite colour?

I’ve got three favourites – purple, white and red.  Purple is an unusual colour some people think it’s a sad colour but I think it’s vibrant and warming.  White is relaxing and calm and red is an exciting colour.

Have you got any pets? – what is your favourite animal?

I’ve got a pet rabbit called Sally Ann – she’s a Harlequin Tortoiseshell.  She’s 6 or 7 years old which is quite old for a rabbit.  She can be loving but sometimes she’s grumpy and can bite.  She goes for the plants in the garden!

I also like dolphins.

What is your favourite place?

I’d say Aspirations at I AM is my favourite place.

What is the bravest thing you’ve done?

Climbing up Snowden.  I was part of the I AM sponsored climb up Snowden in 2019 – about 20 of us did it.  It was a real challenge.  We set off at 7am and didn’t get back down to the bottom until 10pm – and didn’t get home until 1am.  My legs were aching so much the next day!

When were you diagnosed with autism? – how old were you?

I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when I was 15. It was helpful to have the diagnosis – I would have liked to have known about it when I was younger.

What is the best thing about having autism?

I’d say it’s having particular interests.  I’ve got lots of interests.  I like Star Wars and have got a collection of Star Wars figures, I support Altrincham FC and go to lots of their games – and I’m really into Nintendo.

How long have you been a member of I AM (ASGMA)?

I joined when I was 15 – and have been a member ever since.  So, I’ve been a member for nearly 21 years now. ASGMA (as it was called then) was based in the old Town Hall at Eccles which was quite difficult to get to.  It’s better where it is now because of the good public transport it’s easier to get to.

What is your favourite group / activity at I AM?

The gaming group.  I also like the Drop-in and the DVD takeaway night, but the gaming group is definitely my favourite.

How would you describe I AM to someone who hasn’t heard of it?

It’s a place where you can meet other people with autism and talk to them and you can talk to the staff.  The staff have lots of information about autism that has helped me understand more about it.

How has I AM helped you?

It gives me somewhere to go every week which is good. It’s good to be able to talk to other people with autism because they understand what it’s like. For some things it’s better to talk to the staff because they can help to sort out problems.

What would be different in your life if I AM didn’t exist?

I wouldn’t get out as much and that would make me more anxious about going out and meeting people.  I might get into a downward spiral if I didn’t come to I AM.

Is there anything else you want to add or that you wanted to talk about?

I’d like more people to understand about autism and Asperger syndrome.  I’d like to go on TV and explain how it affects me.  It would be good if everyone learnt something about it at school.

If you would like to be interviewed for Member Profiles you can find out more about what’s involved by emailing debra.bradley@i-am-autism.org.uk or enquiries@i-am-autism.org.uk  You don’t need to be a member of the Community Voice group to be interviewed.

To find out about how I AM can offer support contact us at admin@i-am autism.org.uk or give us a call on 0161 866 8483
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