Since I have become a mother, finding my balance is more difficult." - Annelien

My name is Annelien, I live in the beautiful province of Overijssel in the Netherlands, where my husband and I are raising our son and daughter. Sometimes I joke that I’m autistic and they 'unfortunately are normal'. They develop according to 'the guidelines', while I clearly was different as a child… I’m alternately happy and stressed about that. I explore these feelings, in addition to scientific articles about autism and parenting, on my Instagram ann_autimam. I also write blogs, and I want to publish a book.

I was diagnosed with autism in 2000. The medical explanation about autism did not provide me with a positive image of myself, but it did help me find my peers. I find it much easier to understand other autistic people, and I enjoy talking to them! I like social contact. It’s just that 'normal' people have so many social rules, or they want to meet in environments that are very noisy. Conversely, I understand that friends and family are not always understanding when I get overstimulated. They are still enjoying a situation, while I want to go back to the peace of my own home (or I mentally check out).

Despite the fact that a lot of things do not go according to 'the standard', I’m proud that I persevere and that I know my qualities. To me, the core of autism lies in the layout of my brain: in some areas I can think very fast ('autitalent'?), while in others I am slower (processing emotions). Every day I have to take into account what my brain can handle. If I seek out too much stimuli: everyday tasks will no longer be doable. If I have too few stimuli: I slide into inactivity. Since 2006, I have an ambulatory support worker helping me with maintaining a weekly structure. In a tougher year, I will see the SGGZ (specialized mental health care) again. Since I have become a mother, finding my balance is more difficult, but I like challenges.
My advices: If you want to have children, don’t let anything stop you. There will be people (even caregivers and support workers) that see your struggles and say that “because of your autism, you can’t be a mother”. Come on! You’ve reached adulthood, so you have enough qualities, right? You are allowed to have weaknesses and a solution can be found for everything. If you don’t know a solution, there are people around you who want to help you. Parenting doesn’t rest on your shoulders alone. You are not alone <3.

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