I got to a real low point. That was when I decided to get an autism assessment. I got the diagnosis in early It was a relief. Where I grew up, I was the only mixed-race person I knew. It was a white working-class neighbourhood. I think St Lucia is now starting to realise there are autistic kids - and that being autistic is not a bad thing.
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But even here, some communities are still struggling to identify and understand autism. I had a bit of a light bulb moment one day in a lecture theatre during my psychology training. We were being taught about different conditions - including autism. They were seen as belonging to the Scottish girl - culturally attributed rather than individually attributed.
I also love fantasy fiction. I used read and read and read. I got lost in The Lord of the Rings. I would dress up as an elf. I went to Comic Con meetings. I was diagnosed at 32 - three years ago - and it has completely changed my life, and my identity, for the better. I now have more self-acceptance of why I do the things I do. Autism provides me with a number of gifts and talents.
West Midlands, 27 years old, works with people with learning difficulties. At first my doctor told me I had borderline personality disorder BPD. But when I did get my diagnosis, I still felt no-one around me understood or wanted to understand. I looked at other people with really good jobs and nice cars. Why do I have to keep getting ill and quit jobs? I still tried to force myself into full-time work in call centres. The bright lights and the noise - the sensory overload.
My partner's a barber. He knows a lot of people. I just find it difficult to go around a room and say hello to lots of people. I end up spending hours and hours looking at pictures of them. I know that sounds a bit weird. But it was at secondary school when I first thought I might be autistic. My brother was diagnosed with autism when he was five and he attended a specialist school.
While on a teacher training school placement, my mentor spotted some aspects of autism in my behaviour. For example, sometimes I would take things too literally, or I would sit on my own in the staff room and not socialise. When I received my diagnosis, I felt it explained a lot, which was good. However, I feel that having a label has both benefits and downfalls.
My autism mainly affects my sociability and expression - and I also have high levels of anxiety, particularly when there is change to my routine. I tend to get obsessive over things like TV shows. I can watch them for hours and know the script by heart. I can claim back expenses on printing paper and ink as I hate reading things on a screen. I also get specialist mentoring support to help with any worries and to work on my interview skills. There are only about five of them so I felt comfortable explaining.
BBC News - autism. The National Autistic Society. It all made sense when we found out we were autistic.
It all made sense when we found out we were autistic
About , people in the UK are on the autism spectrum, according to the National Autistic Society Five times as many males as females are diagnosed Autism is under-diagnosed in females. I was born with the social skills of a used teabag. People assumed I was just shy. I am living the life I want to live. Darragh and I have a special bond and he makes me proud every single day.
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Interviews by Lucy Edwards. Cambridgeshire, 28 years old, PhD student. They can be more compelled to make friends - and so they learn to mimic non-autistic people. For example, they might find making eye contact difficult. I know I did. I will look away for a few seconds and then back. But learning that social repertoire has taken me many, many years. Doctors focused on the depression, rather than thinking about a possible autism diagnosis. Getting diagnosed gave me relief.
Greater Manchester, 26 years old, performer. It sounds silly but that was the only thing my childhood brain could comprehend. When I was a baby people thought I was deaf. Why would I want to get splinters up my bum from a wooden slide in the playground?
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I got bullied badly in school. I guess people saw me as an easy target. Now, the majority of my friends are on the spectrum. They give me extra comedy material. I also feel calmer being able to stroke them while performing. Heart Of Darkness 18th January 0.
Ambitious About Autism
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