I am Michelle, I am 29 years old and born in Nijmegen. I have autism and live under supervised care at 's Heeren Loo.
Autism has a daily impact. I am very sensitive to stimuli, easily overstimulated, I think in terms of black and white and find changes difficult. If necessary, I use a schedule, but sometimes not, because I want to be able to stay flexible.
Due to PTSD, combined with autism, I ended up in depression. But also because I want to participate in society and keep exceeding my limits. Fortunately, things are getting better and, together with the guidance of my caregivers, I am learning to determine what I can do, what is too much and when I should be taking a rest.
I became a volunteer with the Dutch Autism Association (NVA). I support the NVA with lots of things and I thrive on that. Little by little, I overcome the depression, also by exercising a lot, cycling, walking, swimming, continuing to do fun things and taking more time to rest. Because I have managed to make it this far, I feel like living again. I wish everyone could experience that feeling, because it's so nice to be able to help others with something you can do!
I am proud to have studied ICT, to have done volunteer work for the NVA, to become an experience worker at 's Heeren Loo and that I have made it this far. I am also proud of my autism, because that makes me unique. There are disadvantages to autism, but I also enjoy the advantages, such as a good memory, good drawing and puzzle skills. And also that I have built 17 Ultimaker 3D printers, taught to students how to build them and, with my critical viewing and reading skills, was able to show how to make the correct manual for them.
My tips to people with autism: (1) Above all, think about yourself. Be mindful of your autism and take your rest early, because preventing depression or autistic burnout is really a struggle. Getting out of it takes longer.... (2) See your autism as a strength, not something negative. (3) Peer contact is nice because you don't have to explain everything. (4) Create a social network, maintain it.... and real friends will understand if something doesn't work out because you get stuck (5) And above all, be kind to yourself!