I have been thinking a lot lately about identifying as autistic, and why – especially as a person who thought I knew quite a bit about autism – it took me so long to realise that I have it myself.
There are still a lot of misconceptions about what autism is and how it displays, particularly in females. When I was learning about autism in the late 90s, the lack of theory of mind was an essential part of diagnosis, and we were taught that autism is much less common in women, but much more severe. As I’ve been doing more recent research, I’ve found I don’t really identify with a lot of the prominent autistic female narratives that I’ve found in books or blogs. For this reason I’ve decided to explore this in a series of short blogs as I get a chance to put my thoughts down, partly as a way of making sense of it myself, and partly for any other women who feel different but don’t quite know why.
My life as it is now has been shaped by my autism, of course, but also by the unique set of circumstances that have presented themselves to me, the decisions I’ve made, and the people I’ve met. Autism is woven through the fabric of my being but that’s not *all* that I am, so it’s natural that it will come out in a slightly different way with me than it may do in others. I think it’s really important to get a wide spectrum of voices speaking out on this, as each one will add to our understanding of what it can mean to be autistic. If you are reading this and would like to share your own experiences I’d be very happy to post a guest blog.