by Dominique Hunter, Business Strategic Partner & Virtual PA
“Yes it’s clear to us that you are Autistic”
That was the sentence I heard at the end of my assessment on 29 June 2022; a date I will never forget.
Like many other thousands of men and women, I am one of the 'late diagnosed’ autistic people - at the age of 36.
After years of struggling with Post Natal Depression, finally I was given a reason; the answer. This life change - becoming a mother - meant I suddenly had to work out what another person was thinking and feeling without them able to fully communicate with me. For anyone who has had a child, you will know how fickle and completely unpredictable they are. "This pen is TOO red!" How can a red pen be too red!?
Whilst everyone around me seemed to be coping with parenthood and the unpredictability that comes with it, I struggled with adapting to this new role/lifestyle. It seemed totally alien and didn't know how to "act" around my son. I started copying how my husband played with him and had to go for a nap after 15 minutes!
But I shouldn't have been acting. I needed to be me. I'm on a journey to know truly who that is (I'm getting there!), and what I've got to work with.
But that's me on a personal level.
In the business world, my diagnosis has changed very little about me.
The business world is where my super powers really come into their own and are truly appreciated.
But this is not true for everyone:-
Only 22% of autistic people are in some form of paid employment.*
A sad statistic that makes me feel very humbled, appreciative of what I can do and grateful to everyone who has employed me for my skills. Thanks Carly!
I love work. It’s a place where I shine. My colleagues know that whatever work I need to do, I will put my heart and soul into completing it, and further suggest ways of how things could be done better. Here's why.
My Super Powers:
I've spent years saying in interviews that I'm good at these things, but it's not until someone has worked with me that they suddenly realise how well I mean. Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet. There is a physical difference in how an autistic person's brain works compared with a neurotypical brain, which also means there are other things that I find more difficult. Plus, my super powers can also be a curse. I grew up being told I was pedantic, overly direct that that I ask too many questions.
As a nation, we are starting to learn more and more about autism. There have been a number of television programmes aired recently; including Chris Packham's "Inside Our Autistic Minds", and I would definitely encourage everyone to watch them. One key message is that every Autistic person is different, with different strengths and challenges, just like every neurotypical person is different. The key is to try not to stereotype the label.
I've been asked: "If you could re-wire your brain to be neurotypical, would you?"
Admittedly, the day after my diagnosis, I would've said yes. But now? Absolutely not! I am proud of my super powers. It took me a bit of time to understand that's what they are, but I'm glad they're here to stay.
Thank you autistic brain!
- * Statistic taken from Office of National Statistics
- When writing this, I have aimed to be consistent in relaying how autism impacts me specifically as every person has different super powers and challenges.
- If anybody would like to talk more about Autism, I am very happy to talk about my experiences, or direct you to services that can help in your area - feel free to get in touch.