“When I read about autism, it was like I was reading about myself.” - Claire

Hi! My name is Claire, I’m 23 years old and I live in Hilversum with my boyfriend and my two cats. Together we make a podcast about mental health, which is called @‌stoorzender-podcast (tn, eng: Jammer). In addition, I’m currently working a few days a week as a barista, and I’ve also set up my own business, a webshop through which I sell my illustrations and handmade products.

I’ve been diagnosed with autism about a year ago. I’ve been in treatment in mental health care for a long time, but with little actual result. When I read a bit more about masking in autism, it was like I was reading about myself. As I read more and more about autism, I have come to understand myself better and better, and I’m starting to do better mentally too. I suffer a lot from shutdowns, in which I can no longer communicate. I also get overstimulated easily. I’m now learning how to deal with this, with a support worker.

My autism limits me in many ways, but I wouldn't want to live without it. I am very detail-oriented and creative because of my autism. I can also enjoy occupying myself with my creative hobbies with great intensity. I can completely forget about time, because I get so caught up in them.

My tip to other autistic people is to not only look at the unpleasant sides of your autism. Find a hobby or interest that makes you intensely happy. For me, that’s being creative. You will probably also have something that makes you very happy!

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