The last little while has been truly life changing, or rather, life affirming. As many of you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with Autism. And then, finally, so many things made sense.
I had been working on a documentary that aims to challenge the education system as it does not serve children on the autistic spectrum well. My partner in the documentary and co-author, Harry Thompson, an Autistic and PDA Writer, Advocate, consultant and International Public Speaker on all things Autism, recognised that I could be Autistic and ADHD within ten minutes of meeting me. He urged me to explore a diagnosis, which I did (I am yet to be assessed for ADHD).
I cannot begin to tell you the sense of relief this is for me and how much I celebrate this diagnosis. I now have a deeper understanding of myself, my life, and the things I have endured.
For example, the trait of always saying what I think, I have always put down to my northernness. It is now apparent that it is to do with my autism, not my place of birth.
Even going all the way back to my childhood and inability to properly access my education – looking at that with a new lens is fascinating.
Interestingly, the sensitivities around working in television have come up. I have always struggled with earpieces, what they call talkback, where you hear what the director says. I have often accidentally responded to the director in my ear, live on air, as I cannot juggle the person I am interviewing and the person in my ear at the same time.
My memory has always been problematic, and remembering pieces to camera could spin me out, resulting in sleepless nights beforehand. There have been many tears of fear and frustration.
Being told that you are so good at something means nothing if it hurts in the process. For me, it’s my experience that counts and in the future, I will work my way or no way at all.
The liberation this has given me is tangible and exciting.
I believe the neurodivergent people of this world should not conform to what is considered ‘normal’ or that of neurotypical thinking. Moreover, we should accommodate all for the brilliantly different and complex people we are and celebrate what we bring as individuals.
There are a million ways as to why this diagnosis sits very comfortably with me, and I think the details of why will keep coming up thick and fast. I will share them all in the future and as I go. If you’ve lived through something similar, please share your own story by simply replying to this email.
What resolutely stands out for me at this moment is that being yourself is the only way to live, and from now on, I am going to embrace all that I am truly, and I urge you to do the same.
Be happy, be proud of yourself, and spread that joy.
(Photo: Alan Strutt)