"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.

I'm excellent at masking, and I know to a tee what’s expected of me socially , which makes it appear like I'm keeping up pretty well. In reality, this takes a lot of effort, I experience a lot of melt-downs, I am chronically overstimulated, and often I do not understand the world very well, which causes me to structurally experience anxiety and, as a reaction to that, I try to control this with compulsive behaviour. A positive side however, is my unique view on life, my deep empathy, an intense way of feeling and my highly developed creative/analytical brain.

I am most proud in life of having taken the step to choose for myself. To have moved with the love of my life to another city and environment, where I fit much better. Where I can be more like myself, together with our animals, in stunning nature, and a mentality that suits me better.

The tip I would like to give to people with autism is to arrange your life according to your needs, even if they deviate from the norm completely. This means that you might have to say goodbye to certain people, habits or an environment that otherwise would break you. New people, habits, etc. will naturally take their place. But fitting to your life in the best way.

And by the way! Ask for help when you need it.

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