I want to understand myself
I was desperately trying to keep up
I desperately forced myself to keep up, no matter how mentally and physically exhausting it was. But at school, I was falling behind, and socially I felt overwhelmed. I could tell I wasn’t quite on the same page as other young people but I didn’t have the words to explain it.
Instead of receiving support, I found myself in detention. It was so frustrating, why was this happening to me?
Researching autism helped me understand myself better
When my younger brother was diagnosed as autistic, I was really surprised. His behaviour and habits were normal for us at home.
I decided to research autism to try to understand him better. Instead, I ended up understanding more about myself. Everything resonated with me and, for the first time, I felt like I had an answer to all my questions.
My diagnosis made things much easier
If you’re an autistic girl, getting the diagnosis and support you need can be much harder than for boys. I finally got my diagnosis when I was 21. My university was great at helping me obtain this privately, and even covered my costs.
I was very lucky to have a psychologist too, who took time to get to know me as a person. He provided me with an in-depth report about my autism and recommended support, like a specialist mentor and extended deadlines. He also suggested several books to read, written by autistic authors.
I’m completely bewildered by my symptoms sometimes, so it was such a relief to speak to an expert who understood not only my condition but what could help me manage it.
It was difficult getting these recommendations implemented at uni, but all my perseverance was worth it. When everything was eventually in place, it was a huge boost.
Speaking to people like me helps
Once I knew I was autistic, I was able to seek out and meet others in a similar situation to me. It was such a comfort to know I wasn’t alone. Ambitious about Autism also made a big difference. I could discuss how to tackle sensory issues, and talk about what overwhelms me. I finally felt able to understand myself.
In the future, I hope there’s more awareness about autism
Now I’ve left uni, I don’t have the same support. I want to work, and I have skills to offer. But so far no one has given me a chance.
Sometimes it feels like I’m starting from scratch. The help that’s available can be hard to find, and sometimes it’s just not useful enough. It’s exhausting. It’s down to me to continually push for the support I should be getting.
In the future I hope there’s more awareness about autism, so young autistic people are able to understand at an earlier age why they’re different.
About the author
Aishah is a member of the Ambitious Youth Council.
Read more about language and support in our Include Autism toolkit