Journey of Resilience: Embracing Asperger's Joys and Growth Through Blogging and Podcasting

Stephen McHugh (00:22):
Hi there, Stephen McHugh here, Stephen's Evolution. Welcome to another episode of my podcast. I
have Asperger's, a form of autism, and I make fortnightly episodes based on my lived experiences with
the condition. In this particular episode, I'm going to talk about embracing the joys and growth with
Asperger's and doing a blog and a podcast related to my lived experiences with it, along with developing
resilience in the knowledge of only relatively few downloads, and a modest number of visitors to my

Stephen McHugh (01:12):
At the time of this recording, I have just over a dozen episodes with the total number of downloads at
just over a hundred. What motivated me to do blogging and podcasting was that I had a story to share in
relation to my progress that I've made whilst living with Asperger's, especially in relation to my
education and school days, I have had language and speech development delays. This held me back
during my education and school days. However, with support, I was still able to make satisfactory
progress even though it would take me longer, due to my language deficiencies and understanding.

Stephen McHugh (02:03):
I want to provide hope and guidance to those who may be on similar paths to me, one of the joys I find
with Asperger's is that it offers one to have unique strengths and abilities, including skills that others
may find very difficult. For me, one of my unique abilities is playing music and the piano and being able
to master difficult pieces. In addition, another joy is overcoming obstacles related to having the
condition, especially regarding my language and speech development delays.

Stephen McHugh (02:51):
Since my language skills have improved, it has allowed me to develop a new interest. Creative writing.
There are a number of things I've learned from blogging and podcasting, most notably from a technical
point of view. You could include the development of my website here. One thing that stood out for me
here was to ensure that it was quick loading. I managed to find a website to compress images to help
webpages load faster. In addition, I managed to find a webpage builder that was light for the webpage
loader that I chose. It had menu options for different screen dimensions, making it easier for me to
create designs that would be more user friendly for those with smaller devices, including mobile phones.

Stephen McHugh (03:51):
Another way I found to improve user experience was to include a search facility on the website to make
it easier for users to find desired content more quickly. For this, I had to research for certain codes in
order to provide the required functionality in order to get the search facility to work. In addition, I would
create numbers of categories and store blog posts under each of them so that users could have another
way of finding content more quickly. Along with that, I came up with a design where the links in the top
menu and the bottom menu are always visible throughout the site so users can find their way around
more easily.

Stephen McHugh (04:44):
It also gives me some confidence in problem solving skills. An example of this was when my website was
down after an initial investigation, it was due to something simple. It was a matter of deleting a plugin
that I didn't necessarily need. Once I deleted the plugin in question, my site was backup functioning as
normal, and now onto my podcast to set up the equipment and relevant software. All I needed was a
microphone and a microphone attachment stand, which to me was a very simple setup, and all that I
needed along with downloading recording software. Once I upload my recordings, they get
automatically sent to directories and stored with other podcasts there.

Stephen McHugh (05:44):
Doing my blog and podcast has enabled me to put my communication skills to use. I have done this
when it came to having logos designed for both my website and podcast, along with having some music
composed for my podcast, which is used in the intro and outro of each episode. My choice of music was
commended once I had released my podcast to the world.

Stephen McHugh (06:16):
I have also found ways to be more efficient in doing my tasks related to my podcast. It is through using a
transcription service, which enables me to transcribe my spoken recordings into written format. This
reminds me of the fact that I added a function to my website to enable it to be more accessible to those
with certain disabilities. This reminds me of an important thing here to be more sensitive to the needs of
others. At the end of episodes and blog posts, I try to encourage comments by asking for experiences of
readers or listeners in relation to what I've talked about on a particular podcast episode or blog posts.

Stephen McHugh (07:11):
I haven't had that many comments in my blogs, but whenever I've had them, I find it very uplifting to
know that a particular blog post has resonated with someone. For me, the way I see it is that it's
provided help and hope to someone out there encouraging messages I've received on social media have
included that first hand testimony is very powerful and that it is very admirable to be using my own
experiences to help guide others on similar paths. To me, even though messages have been in small
numbers, I still feel encouraged to keep providing content in order to try and help and guide those who
may be on a similar path. To me, numbers aren't the only way to measure impacts. Another encouraging
message included telling me to keep up doing my project as it was seen by somebody to be a great help
for parents with children just starting out.

Stephen McHugh (08:24):
I have twice been featured as a guest author on a website known as immersive If you click
on the blog link on my website and go to the education and Technology for Education, you'll find a blog
post based on what I believe the impact of this technology would've been and my education when I was
young. The title of the blog post is, could Immersive Reality Help with Autistic Children's Education?
When I shared this blog post on Twitter, they agreed to publish it on their website.

Stephen McHugh (09:09):
One other blog post of mine features short stories on idioms where I try and make it easier for those
with autism to understand them more easily. The second time I featured as a guest author on their
website for these two opportunities. I am very grateful, especially as it exposes my website to more
people in the world in need of some hope and guidance.

Stephen McHugh (09:39):
I started my blog just over a couple of years ago. For a while, I didn't have that many visitors per month,
partly because it was new and not well known out there. Shortly after starting my blog, I joined Twitter
around this time last year. In July, I started to see an increase in number of visitors to around 200 per
month, which then remained steady for the next several months after.

Stephen McHugh (10:12):
In January of this year, 2023, I joined two Facebook groups linked to Asperger's and autism, and since
then, I have seen the number of visitors monthly to my website grown to around a thousand a month
last month at the time of recording this. For me, that gives me great confidence that my blog has great
potential and that it can keep growing further.

Stephen McHugh (10:45):
I plan to create my own dedicated Facebook page where one can share and read tips about how one can
live well with Asperger's. On Twitter, whenever I've seen tweets that mean something to me and I have
a blog post that may be relevant to it, I post a reply sometimes with a link to the relevant blog post, and
whenever somebody has liked my reply, that gives me more confidence that I am doing something right.
More importantly, it is at least one more person who may be benefiting from my content.

Stephen McHugh (11:30):
For those of you who are thinking of starting your own podcasting or blogging journey is to just be
yourself. You may be concerned that your topic has already taken, but the thing to think about here is
nobody has told your story. Your journey will be unique. Don't worry about being perfect. Just focus on
creating useful content. I admit to having an obsession with perfection in the past. I still do what it is to a
lesser degree now, and remember, things take time to grow and develop, to get good at something. As
you can imagine, it takes practice.

Stephen McHugh (12:19):
I have done a blog post about overcoming self-doubt and the techniques I've used to do so it includes a
link to a website, which gave me the encouragement to start a blog. One piece of advice I can give is you
never know the positive impact it may have on somebody out there and the journey on which it could
take you.

Stephen McHugh (12:44):
Another thing which helps me to keep going with this is to keep spreading awareness about Asperger's
and autism. Every big journey starts with a small step. They can be less overwhelming and lots of small
steps can add up to great progress. They can help to build momentum too, so even if you are only
making small steps, you are still making progress in your own right. This reminds me of a holiday I once
had to Rome.

Stephen McHugh (13:23):
Thinking back, Rome for me has a lot of impressive landmarks. You'd think it would take a lot longer
than a day to build it all. As for the future of my podcast and blog, I'd like to at some point to be a guest
on other shows where I could share my own experiences of living with Asperger's and my journey of
hope and self-improvement, providing hope and guidance to others on similar paths as me.

Stephen McHugh (14:01):
For my blog, one of the most popular posts is the short idiom stories, which I've written to try and make
it easier for those with Asperger's to understand. I plan to use this to write my own stories and self publish 
them as creative writing is one of my new interests right now.

Stephen McHugh (14:23):
And that's all there is for this episode. Thank you for listening if you've made it this far. If it's resonated
with you in some way, or if it's inspired you to start your own journey of sharing your lived experiences
with autism, it would be great to connect with other people with Asperger's and autism. The more
awareness we can raise, the better the world can be for those of us living with Asperger's and autism.
You can reach out to me on Twitter, Instagram, and my email links to these can be found on my website.

Stephen McHugh (15:10):
Goodbye for now and I'll talk to you all again soon on the next episode, and I shall talk about how
technology can be useful for helping people with autism and Asperger's, especially regarding education.
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