A Sense of Belonging by Chloe

A Sense of Belonging is a beautifully written and heartfelt piece by Chloe, who attends the Midlothian Project. She very eloquently describes what attending Upmo means to her;

High school for me was a bit of a social minefield one which I could never really navigate no matter how hard I tried. I always knew that I was different from the other girls my age but I never really understood why which often left me feeling confused and frustrated. I often wondered why I wasn’t ‘normal’ but now I ask myself :

What is normality?

In itself this question seems easy to answer but is it?

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I’ve recently started attending Upmo which is a service for adults with Autism and learning difficulties. To be honest Upmo is anything but normal but that’s part of the reason I love it as it means that there’s never a dull moment and there’s always new memories to be made.

Take today for example – We’re all doing our separate jobs in our cooking workshop and one of the staff members says that she wants to be a goat which makes us all laugh. Many people may find this to be a bit odd but at Upmo everyone just sees this as another amusing moment.

There are many reasons why I love going to Upmo. One of the many reasons I love going is because at Upmo I can be myself and the group accept me for who I am. They don’t ask me to be overly sociable or to talk more as they accept that it may take me a while to come fully out of my shell which I appreciate as I like to do things in my own time. Occasionally I have been able to join in with the conversation or the laughter which for me makes me happy as it’s nice to feel included and I feel it has helped me progress socially as well. 

I often wonder what the best way to describe my relationship with everyone at Upmo is 

Are they acquaintances or friends?

The truth is they’re more than that to me – They’re my crazy Upmo family. 

At Upmo we support, protect and care for each other just like a family would. If one of us has a bad day then we help the person through it and we move on. 

It doesn’t change our opinion of each other. We’re able to have a laugh with each other and keep things playful but we know when to work hard as well. Overall I just love spending time with everyone at Upmo as they make me feel happy and I feel like I’ve found where I belong.

I guess over the last few months I’ve begun to realise that there’s no such thing as normality and I’m slowly learning to accept my differences instead of trying to hide them. 

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After all :

We’re humans not Chameleons