Alumni Megan Callaghan is determined to fulfil her Musical Theatre ambitions despite facing the additional challenges of being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome four years ago.
The 19-year-old former Oldham College student from Rochdale was diagnosed with the milder autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characterised by difficulties in social interaction and non-verbal communication.
“It has allowed me to understand why I always felt different, why I was sensitive to sound, heat and touch and why I found friendships difficult. I did not always understand jokes and sarcasm, and this could make life at high school tricky,” she said.
Megan who is now studying Musical Theatre at Edge Hill University admits the condition can be problematic, with anxiety a pressing issue, while the challenge of adapting to daily life sometimes proves exhausting.
“I overthink things and struggle with public transport. Although this can be hard on a down day I try and keep myself busy and embrace opportunities. I will not let my Asperger’s limit my potential.
“People may not realise I have autism as I have learned to behave as people who are neurotypical would expect but it can be draining. It cannot always be sustained and requires me to take time out to be on my own to recharge my batteries.
“There are also positives to my diagnosis and I would not be me if I did not have my Asperger’s. It makes me conscientious and motivated, determined not to let people down – I’m not a person who likes to give up.”
“There are a lot of people who, like me, did not get the diagnosis they needed to support them through early education and I would like to ensure they get the support they deserve. ASD in girls is not talked about enough.”
Megan’s love for performance and continued Musical Theatre studies has seen her appear in several amateur shows including Les Misérables, as well as auditioning for a high-profile role in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.