"Follow your passions and your dreams." - Nieke

My name is Nieke. I’m 29 years old and I live in an assisted living facility in Almelo.

I was diagnosed with autism when I was 17 years old. I have trouble regulating thoughts and emotions, and as a child I was bullied a lot because I would be crying without a clear reason, I had trouble connecting with my peers, learning was difficult for me, and I set the bar too high. I would constantly compare myself to others, I was good at masking, and I’d always present myself better. Because I would get increasingly overstimulated, I had meltdowns, outbursts, followed by a lot of regret and guilt.

When I do too much, I suffer from overstimulation. I always have to find a balance between exerting myself and relaxing. Moments of relaxation are very important. I like structure and clarity, and unforseen events are difficult for me.

I have been through a lot. Eventually I came to accept help. I didn’t want this yet during puberty (state of denial). I have followed various courses, such as at Aveleijn Nijverdal, Leo Kannerhuis, art therapy, natural medicine, and now at Aveleijn Beeckesteyn (a training facility for people with impairments).

I have made great steps in my personal development. I am a social, spontaneous girl, well balanced, with a positive attitude, I have a good foundation, and I am grateful for what comes up in life. I enjoy the pretty things that exist. I’m very proud of this! Because in the end, I am the one who has achieved this. With help, but that’s not bad. It is actually good if you ask for help. Ultimately, my goal is to work as an experience expert and help other (young) adults in this society. I give presentations about autism, so I can help and inspire people.

My tip: you can be super proud of what you have achieved. It’s okay if you feel a little dip in your mood, you’re allowed to feel bad sometimes. Just don’t get stuck in it. Be yourself, keep at yourself and listen to your own emotions. Everyone has their personal qualities, use them! Follow your passions and your dreams. Do it at your own pace, level and with small steps. It’s more important to know your direction than to keep up a speed. Take the rest you need, and look for the diversion that helps you.

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