"I pride myself on being visually minded." - Sabine

I’m Sabine, I’m 34 years old and happily married to my husband since 2017. We live together and have a dog. I volunteer at a daycare center for children, which is located in a wooded area with animals, and I'm having a great time. I am a friendly, cheerful woman who is compassionate and kind to people and animals. I am creative and ambitious.

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"Not having structure is difficult for me." - Elena

My name is Elena, and I am 7 years old. I live with my sister Talitha, my father and my mother. I like horse riding very much. I go to the equestrian facility to ride Suus three Saturdays a month. I adore Suus! At first I rode in a group, but that caused too much stimulation. Now I get private lessons; I think that’s nice.

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"I'm excellent at masking." - Sem

My name is Sem van Hofwegen, I’m 32 years old, engaged to Dao, and I live in beautiful Noord Brabant, together with our dog, cat and 7 guinea pigs. I love singing, playing guitar and drawing. I also like to share my experiences, tips and tricks regarding my autism diagnosis through my blog on Asperwoman.Autism has a negative as well as a positive impact on my life. Before my diagnosis, my life was continuously one big battle which eventually led to an autistic burnout. Many things are difficult for me, but this always happens internally , and therefore isn’t visible on the outside. People are often amazed when I tell them I’m autistic, and sometimes they even question it. That hurts a lot.

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"In addition to autism, I have sensory integration disorder." - Talitha

I’m Talitha and I’m 4 years old. I like to cuddle my favorite pony River.I have autism. An advantage of this, is that I’m very good with numbers and letters, I’m very good at remembering lyrics, and I can flawlessly sing along in all languages. I can also withdraw myself well, and I don't care what others think about me. And my humor is amazing. A disadvantage is that I often have meltdowns, I also don’t yet understand a lot of things.

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"I have difficulties with social contact." - Nova

I’m Nova. I am 13 years old and live with my father, mother, 2 brothers, a dog, a cat and a hamster. I love to be creative, I like to watch Ginny and Georgia and other series on Netflix. I also like to spend time on TikTok and Instagram. I like to experiment with makeup as well. Next to that, I like to take care of animals. Animals make me very happy. Fashion is also something that I adore.

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"You’re most beautiful and fun when you are your true self." - Monique

My name is Monique (29). I got my autism diagnosis a year ago, when I was 28 years old. I’ve been together with my dear husband for 13 years, of which we have been married for 3,5 years. I have studied pedagogy, but in May I will start a traineeship to become a software developer. My hobbies are everything that has to do with creativity: from drawing to photography, from crochet to programming and from diamond painting.

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"Not understanding yourself and the world." - Lisa

My name is Lisa, I’m 31 years old and I’m an all-round creative person. I create, write, want to know and understand everything, often want too much which makes that all the possibilities can overwhelm me and nothing more will come out anymore. Phone off, internet off, rest and my dearest friend nature and especially the sea. Recently I discovered the bass guitar, that brings peace to my head with its heavy, vibrating notes.

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"Let's be different together!". - Margot

My name is Margot van Schendel, I am 27 years old and I work in autism care. Currently I work there as pedagogical counselor, lived experience worker and trainer for Stichting de As [The As Foundation]. From September 1st I’ll be working as a residential social worker and as a job coach for a protected housing facility of Jados.

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"I cannot do everything I want to." - Nina

I’m Nina, I’m 22 years old. I live at home with my parents, our 2 dogs and 1 cat. I have known for 3 years that I am autistic. I work at a cemetery for 20 hours a week, where I maintain the greenery. My hobbies are: watching TV, listening to music, sports, shopping and photography.Out of all the autism traits, I suffer the most from changes and overstimulation, of course. I have less energy compared to someone without autism, so I cannot do everything I want to.

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“ I’m still figuring out exactly how autism works for me.” - Janyke

My name is Janyke, I am 26 years old. I live on the beautiful Zuid-Veluwe where I love to cross through the woods on my mountain bike. Coloured trainers, coffee, puns, a good conversation with friends, brownies, happy dogs, surfing, snowboarding, music, books and watching a Lord of the Rings/Disney movie make me happy. I work as a data manager at UMC Utrecht and I am a Christian, by ups and downs ;)

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“Autism is seemingly intertwined with everything in my life.” - Jonina

My name is Jonina and I’m a Dutch teacher at an MBO school (secondary vocational education) in Rotterdam. I live together with my boyfriend, his son (half of the week) and my dog ​​Loes. I read a lot and I like to be in the woods. Autism is seemingly intertwined with everything in my life. I don't know yet how this works exactly; the diagnosis is still fresh. It confuses me how I suddenly have a diagnosis that feels so fitting. I don't understand why I didn't realise this before, since - as a teacher - I have been a learning coach for students with ASD, among other things.Talking about autism in education is laced with prejudice. Unfortunately, there is still little knowledge, and that’s reflected in statements which have touched me a lot lately. Since the diagnosis, I seem to be even more sensitive than I already was. However, I’m very happy with that sensitivity. I see, feel, hear and experience things much more intensely than others. That breaks me up regularly, but it also gives me some kind of superpower. Now that I know that this is part of autism, I also know that others don’t have it. I always thought that everyone experiences everything the same way I do.

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"At last the search is over, and there is peace and reconciliation"

My name is Virginie, I’m 53 years old. A Sunday child, because I was born on a Sunday and everything seemed to go very smoothly. I was a happy child, I liked going to school, had many friends and was always on the tennis court. I was born quite a few years later than my siblings. It was tranquil at home, perhaps that's why there were no visible signs of autism. When I started studying, I immediately experienced more difficulties. I graduated on willpower, hard work and perseverance. I didn't follow the usual career path, devised all kinds of loopholes, because I instinctively felt that I wouldn't make it otherwise.When I was 28 years old I got burned out. Many professionals bit off more than they could chew on my case. The fatigue was linked to mononucleosis and Lyme. From 2018 on, my life turned into a rollercoaster. Due to multiple experiences of loss in quick succession, my world was turned upside down. My training as a yoga teacher became my grip. I learned to know myself better, and I met the right people.

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I am very good at putting on a mask." - Sus

My name is Sus,  (@autismeverhalen ). I am 16 years old. Since the age of 7, I have known that I have autism ( at the time: Asperger's). Since 2018, this is called autism. I currently work at a restaurant and I am in the fourth year of secondary school (HAVO) in special education.Autism has a very large impact on my life. For example, I cannot always participate in a family activity when I would like to. In addition, all the stimuli and stress prevent me from going to school.

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"Completing my education means the start of something new." - Willemijn

My name is Willemijn and I’m 26 years old. I like drawing, painting and animals. I’m creative, sensitive and thoughtful.Having autism and growing up is a difficult combination to me. I’ve almost completed my engineering studies, but I cannot yet imagine myself as a professional. The responsibilities, the workload and the interaction with colleagues scare me. I feel like I’m a child among 'grown-ups'. Completing my education means the start of something new. I’m experiencing this transition as very difficult currently. When I think about it, the world seems to break into pieces, together with me. That's why I prefer to keep everything the same. Familiar and safe. But that just happens to be impossible.I’ve been living in the Autism Clinic in Heiloo for a few months now. Here, I hope to gradually develop more self-confidence, and to become more resilient. To discover how I can shape my life in a way that suits me.

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