One of first people with Asperger’s Syndrome to join the Royal Air Force, now volunteers to help others fulfil their untapped potential.
Labelled a naughty child and moved between schools Alex Anderson’s early years were a struggle. But an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis at nine was the beginning of a positive change in his life – one which would eventually see him become one of the first people with the condition to join the Royal Air Force.
During his early years – and before his diagnosis – Alex struggled to settle at school. He moved schools four times and even ran away from school at times – causing real distress for him and his family. He found it hard to plan for the future until he started at a new school. He finally got a diagnosis which led to specialist support from an Autism Unit and he began to finally see a way forward – working towards GCSEs and a career.
He dreamed of joining the RAF but wasn’t sure if it was even possible. His first application was rejected. But when the entry rules changed, he tried again, this time, with the help of The Prince’s Trust. He was able to work with their employability team – building new skills and just as importantly, his confidence. He applied again to the RAF and this time, was successful.
“Asperger’s impacted my school life, it was challenging and really affected my health and wellbeing,” he explains. “I struggled with everyday situations both at home and at school. Before my diagnosis, I moved around four different schools due to my behaviour. I ran away from school too, just to remove myself from situations I couldn’t deal with. It was really unsettling for me and my family.
“I’ve had so many knock backs, but The Prince’s Trust got me through a difficult time and ultimately helped me to achieve my dream,” says Alex. Now the 22-year-old from Newport, Wales works as a Logistic Supplier for the RAF.
He wants other people to benefit from the help and mentoring he received so has made it a priority to give back and help others. Alex has gone on to complete thousands of hours of volunteering with young people, veterans and the elderly, and has even been awarded a British Empire Medal for this work. Thanks to him and the team, more young people can find a way to fulfil their untapped potential too.