“Autism has a huge impact [but] I take pride in always persevering.” - Bo

I am Bo, 21yrs. I was given a diagnosis of Asperger's when I was 5. I live under a guidance in Eindhoven and work at the Hema. I do an evening course in paper restoration. I am a huge animal lover and I am creative.

Autism has a huge impact. Because I have a different way of processing stimuli, I find it challenging to work every day or to study full-time. I also need a lot of clarification on what is expected of me. As a result, I have had to give up my studies at university, academy of arts and secondary school (MBO).

My autism often shows in black-and-white thinking. I can be very " perfectionistic", everything has to be correct. When something is not as it should be according to my thinking, I can completely block, unable to continue what I was doing and my mind is working overtime. Then I need to recharge, by sleeping. Sometimes, when it's all too overwhelming, I fall asleep spontaneously. That is very frustrating. When I am confronted with changes/mistakes too often, the stress levels run so high that sleep is no longer helpful. Then come my anxieties, panic attacks and depressive moments.

I take pride in always persevering. I am now doing an evening study: 3 hours/week. That's more manageable. In paper restoration, you have to be precise and it is fixed how to do something.

I am proud of what I create: my drawings, paintings, linocuts, ... I can express my feelings in them and thus help myself and others or make them happy. If I can do something for others, make someone feel happy, my whole week is a great.

I am proud to follow my own journey. I wear clothes I like, even if they are unlike the average woman's. I eat vegan because it makes me feel good. I contribute to a nicer, cleaner world because, according to my thinking, that's how it should be. I am and do what I stand for and others cannot make me change that.

My tip is mainly do your own thing. Of course, sometimes we have to adapt because in this society we are the ones who think differently, but don't take this too far. It takes so much energy to pretend to be different than you actually are and we have so many beautiful sides and talents. Show them and it will actually energise you!

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