Chloé Hayden bucks the trend when it comes to advocacy for young people on the Autism Spectrum. You can hear her speak at the Humans in Geelong Expo on Sunday 6 Oct at 2pm in the Lecture Theatre.
Inverleigh’s 22 year-old pocket rocket, is swapping song, dance and storytelling for extreme horse riding to promote her positive mantra of ‘Different, Not Less’ – this time on the world stage. Chloé has been invited to compete in the Extreme Cowboy World Finals in Texas in November.
Many people will know Chloé’s alter ego Princess Aspien, a creative children’s entertainer who celebrates her Asperger’s Syndrome. She was a guest at the 2018 Humans in Geelong Expo.
Now Chloé is taking her message to the international Extreme Cowboy titles, competing under her Different, Not Less banner, which she wears proudly on her shirt. Chloé rides with a passion for horses and her sport, matched with a passion for change, showcasing diversity, and showing the world that different doesn’t mean less.
Although Chloé has ridden since she was four, it wasn’t until she discovered Extreme Cowboys that she knew she’d found her family: “I was awful in my first competition, but everyone screamed support from the sidelines”. When I asked why she and her small horse Princess are so good she replied: “We are fast and we are brave”.
After competing in Texas, Chloé is visiting family in Ireland, where she will continue to deliver her ‘Different, Not Less’ message in schools and a number of public presentations.
“The main message will be the same as at home – to encourage acceptance and kindness. We are all different – I want to talk about those differences more.”
Chloé was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when she was 12. Chloé knew she was “different”, which made her feel scared and anxious. However at 18 she took charge and now uses every opportunity she can to educate, encourage and enlighten people about autism and different abilities.
Chloé also reaches out to young people on the Autism Spectrum as well as the adults in their lives, through interactive, fun videos on her Youtube channel – with almost 10,000 subscribers – and blog posts, which tackle the harder details of living with Autism. She is an Ambassador for Yellow Ladybugs, an autism group for young girls, and for Aspergers Victoria and Treehouse Geelong.
With her online presence and public speaking, Chloé’s following has grown. When she speaks at schools, students come up to her for autographs and photos. “It’s so cool the amount of kids who come and say ‘you’ve made a difference, you’re not scared of being autistic’.”
Chloé has a passion for fairy tales, and talks about the process from Once Upon A Time through the Middle Act of life’s adventures, battles, ups and downs to the Happily Ever After. According to Chloé, that is when everyone accepts others and their differences, and you accept yourself.
Chloé is traveling to Texas in October to train for three weeks before representing Australia. If you would like to help Chloé compete in the US and deliver the message of ‘Different, Not Less’, she is seeking sponsors to help cover costs. You can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chloe’s talk at the Humans in Geelong Expo, 2pm Sun 6 Oct Deakin Waterfront, is on autism, creating a fairytale within your circumstances, and helping other people to find their happily ever after. This would be a great talk for families, health professionals, teachers and the general community.
Story: Deb Howcroft Photos: Supplied