The reason I ‘came out’ publicly about being autistic was that I was at a conference down in Berkshire with professionals working with autistic families, including social workers, teachers, charity workers, councillors, counsellors, and GPs.
At break time, I was engaged in conversation with a social worker who was explaining about a family she worked with where the three sons were all autistic and the mother was really struggling with high anxiety. I suggested that the mother herself might be on the spectrum and this might be contributing to her anxiety.
Before I could say anything further, this social worker exclaimed, “Oh, no! She couldn’t possibly be on the spectrum! She’s far too intelligent! She has a university Degree! And anyway she’s married and she has a full time job! And it’s mostly men and she’s a woman! She is certainly not autistic!”
I struggled to keep my teacup from rattling on its saucer as I launched in, indignantly, “I’m very sorry but I think you will need to go back to basics, relearn everything you have ever learned about autism, for your sake and for your clients! I am a woman; I have been to university-twice and got a Degree; I have always worked since leaving home; I am married; I am a good parent – in fact, I can do anything you can do but I am also AUTISTIC!”
Needless to say, the woman was left open-mouthed as I turned on my heels after my outburst. She and a fair few others heard it. I wouldn’t be on her Christmas card list any more..!
This is what I really wanted to say when you sent me the board but I didn’t think it would have been appropriate. I do, however, tell many people this same story when they ask me why I decided to be so open about my being autistic. I got a very late diagnosis at the age of 50 so I have skated under the radar for most of my life. No longer. The above story is the reason why I want to be involved as much as possible to change these dangerous, outdated attitudes for once and for all.
Autistic people come in all shapes and sizes, colours, and textures and I for one am delighted with that fact!
Watch Wendy Ferguson share her poem on the subject of normality.
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After 39 and a half years of not knowing what made me tick, why I communicated and behaved the way I did, I finally got confirmation that I am autistic.
My Autistic Journey
For years I have struggled to comfortably fit in, understand people, and be myself.
Growing Up Undiagnosed
I was diagnosed as autistic eleven years ago at age 21. I had spent my entire life feeling different, not quite fitting in, but not knowing why.
Trusting What Remains
I struggle to trust my processing of this world, but I’ve found other feelings to rely on.