Meet Suzi

Coach, comedian, 

neurodiversity trainer

& speaker

Hi.  I’m Suzi and I am a relentless optimist who has a passion for personal development, pushing boundaries, self-acceptance and helping others. 

 

I am a creative, a truth seeker and a problem solver. I am passionate about living my values of inclusivity,  fun,  freedom, adventure,  acceptance and honesty.

 

I also have a unique blend of adhd, autistic ‘traits’, mild Tourette syndrome and a dash of OCD which has, and I suspect always will make my life one big adventure.   

 

I crave adventure and experiences and have always been ‘into everything’. I spent my childhood flitting between playing on my Raleigh burner BMX, climbing trees with my friend and playing tennis and football. 

 

I spent hours playing video games on the ZX Spectrum and then the Phillips console. Oh, and not forgetting watching the best TV show ever; Rainbow.  Who knew then that I would do an impression of George and Zippy on stage 25 years later as part of my stand-up act! Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUIr2m2Soho

I would often go upstairs to find a toy then spend hours being distracted by other toys and games until my mum or dad would come and see where I had got to.  These were the best times and I look back on these years with nothing but fondness, a sense of play, fun, freedom and adventure. 

 

Things got a bit trickier during adolescence.  People were not as straight forward anymore and friendships were complicated and confusing.  I didn’t tell anyone how I felt, I kept it inside and so started a long slog of internalising my difficult thoughts and feelings, wondering what was wrong with me. 

 

Unconsciously I masked my confusion and became an accomplished actor in order to hide my true self and ‘fit in’.  I observed other people, read the problem pages in teen magazines and started my journey in understanding human behaviour. 

 

Thankfully, my zest for life, fun and adventure never went away, and I have always embraced opportunities in order to have a range of experiences.  At 18 I set off on my own and travelled to America to work on a summer camp.  Not forgetting the fact that I turned up at the airport a day early for my flight! Luckily my Dad saw the funny side and took me again the next day.  

I travelled round the world with a friend and years later backpacked on my own in The Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.  I have bungy jumped in New Zealand (even though I was terrified, and my knees were literally knocking together).  I stumbled upon the set of a bad reality TV show ‘The Salon’ and had a bikini line wax on live TV! I honestly did not think that one through and by the time I realised what I was doing it was too late to turn back.

I have had a range of jobs such as outdoor activity instructor which I loved, beach lifeguard (pool lifeguard too but that’s not as cool IMO lol).  I worked as a nanny, had a few pub jobs and was an admin assistant for an air charter broker (not my ideal job, I couldn’t even get the invoices in date order!). 

 

I then decided to go to university and train as a PE teacher. I was certain I would find my tribe there as I loved playing sports.  I did not… See my stand-up routine on YouTube about PE teachers!

I have spent the past eighteen years teaching in various mainstream and special education settings, always being drawn to helping those who struggled in school due to their learning needs, difficult home lives and mental health difficulties.  I was always able to connect and empathise with these young people who were navigating their way in an outdated education system that was not designed for their way of learning and certainly not to help identify their unique gifts and talents.

It never felt right for me either working in the school setting but due to my perfectionistic nature, I always went back and persevered thinking I would get the hang of it at some point. Little did I realise that the constant pressure and stress of teaching was crushing my soul. I never felt ‘good enough’ and although I could deliver an ‘outstanding’ lesson I could never get on top of the planning and constant, grueling stream of paperwork that was expected.  What was wrong with me? 

 

It turns out there is nothing ‘wrong’ with me.  If I could tell my 10-year-old self that ‘you are ok just the way you are’, would I? Yes of course.  However, my experience has shaped who I am and growing up with undiagnosed learning needs and a mixture of neurological differences has made me who I am today.

I want everyone who feels they are somehow ‘other’ or don’t fit in, who feel like they never meet expectations and questions themselves. Those who don’t understand why people act the way they do or don’t have the confidence to speak up. I want them to know that they are enough. That they are unique and that is ok.  That it’s ok to carve your own path and not ‘fit in’.  It’s ok to be yourself and that no one has the right to tell you otherwise. 

Eventually I sought a diagnosis.  Now, this was difficult as being an ‘able’ and ‘capable’ person I had to self-advocate, research like mad and fight to be assessed.  I will save the full story for another day as it was a long and arduous process. 

 

However, 8 years ago I was assessed and diagnosed with adhd (inattentive subtype), ‘clinically significant’ Asperger’s traits (traits? Hmm… whatever), mild Tourette syndrome and OCD.  Having received the diagnosis, I was able to start my journey of healing and self-acceptance. 

I now feel more able to speak up for myself and let people know the things I struggle with as well as to defend myself if I am not being listened to or heard.  I am strong willed, truth and justice seeking and function well when things are fair and consistent.  If they are not? Hmm, let’s just say it isn’t pretty!

Throughout my teaching career I have been fortunate to work for some fantastic organisations (that were not schools).  I designed and delivered emotional literacy-based courses within primary and secondary schools in Hastings for vulnerable students. 

 

I created courses about loss and separation, friendship skills, managing feelings and self-esteem and assertiveness.  I was delivering sessions that were truly in line with my values and it felt amazing.  Here I was also encouraged to develop my skills and delivered staff comedy improvisation workshops which went down extremely well. 

I have worked for a local authority supporting autistic children, young adults alongside their families to attend clubs in their communities which was highly rewarding.  I also delivered autism awareness training to businesses and organisations to help them support autistic customers.  I worked with Albion in the community which is Brighton & Hove Albion football clubs’ community focused charity to deliver high quality and interactive disability awareness training.

More recently I have delivered successful SPELL autism training within YMCADLG to supported housing project workers and counsellors.  The feedback was excellent and many participants commented on how they though the training should be compulsory for all staff.  People commented on how useful it was to learn from someone who actually experiences autism.  

Ten years ago, I discovered comedy improvisation and I can honestly say it has changed my life! If you’re not sure what that is, look up the TV show ‘Whose line is it anyway’.  To learn how to create short scenes ‘in the moment’ is an adhd dream. No boring planning or worries about remembering what to do and say. Instead it is pure, spontaneous bursts of creativity that is so freeing and playful. 

Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified at first and I remember saying ‘I can’t do this, I’ve never done anything like this before’.  Somehow, I got up and improvised a scene with two others set in a graveyard. Wow! The feeling was unbelievable. I’ll never forget the rush of adrenaline and the boost to my self-esteem and confidence. I was hooked. 

Improv teaches you to really listen to others and to become comfortable with ‘not knowing’, something that I really needed. 

As a highly anxious person who spent too much time trying to predict the outcomes of scenarios that may or may not have ever happened. 

 

I would often practice scripts in my mind of how conversations might go, looking back this was to try and prepare for being ‘on the spot’ and the fear of going blank and not knowing what to say. This is a powerful driver to try and be prepared and not encounter any surprises. 

 

Needless to say, this is not an effective way to be as life, people and situations are highly unpredictable.  This is an area where improvisation has helped me enormously; I am now more relaxed and confident that things work out and that anxious feelings and worry do pass.  

I love to teach people improvisation and have had so much positive feedback about my calm, relaxed and supportive style of delivery and of course the FUN!

Oh, and I also did stand up comedy and my style was observational as well as to create crazy characters.  I must be addicted to feeling terrified and the rush of adrenaline that follows as stand up was all of those things as well as exhilarating! 

Last year I decided I needed a new challenge and successfully auditioned and acted in two comedy murder mysteries. This was daunting as I had to learn lines for the first time and also amazing!  It was so much fun working with a great cast of lovely, supportive people. I am hooked and cannot wait for the day that I do another one. 

Back to my career and thankfully I did eventually realise that formal teaching is not for me.  I am now on a path that is aligned to my values. I am creating a life where I utilise my strengths through coaching, delivering high quality and meaningful neurodiversity training, teaching comedy improvisation, public speaking and the occasional TV advert (M&C Saatchi and BBC so far – shameless namedrop I know). 

I now support people to achieve their goals and ambitions.  I ask questions to help people discover their strengths, challenges and work with them to overcome these.  I am a qualified Personal Performance Coach and trained with The Coaching Academy, a highly acclaimed and reputable organisation.  I have over 60 hours of 1:1 coaching under my belt (not literally lol) and have coached 12 clients who have all provided testimonials that show the positive impact of my coaching.  

I am passionate about supporting others to realise their strengths and potential and believe confidence is key.  I am returning to my authentic self and am growing less concerned with what others think of me.  I am trailblazing a path for not only myself but for other fabulous neurodiverse humans who want to join me on this adventure. 

Listen to my 'story of change' here.

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