I am me, not my Autism

We're proud to support Autism Acceptance Week 2024.

When I was little, my nickname was Divvy Livvy. I was a bit of a daydreamer and my parents always knew there was something different about me.

I would pinch people, shut myself in my room or have what is known as a ‘meltdown’, where I would become quite distressed and emotional. We didn’t know much about Autism at the time, so we didn’t know what was happening. When I reached 9 – 10 years old, I started daydreaming more frequently. My parents took me to the doctors and I was diagnosed with epilepsy.

After that, the doctors put pretty much everything down to my epilepsy. Either that or they said that my hormones were to blame.

I loved primary school; at that age, we all seem the same. It was when I went to high school that we really noticed how different I was.

I hated P.E and non-school uniform days and, so the stress would trigger seizures and I wouldn’t go in. The doctors later said this was probably because of having to get changed and the change of routine in general. My attendance started getting low, so my performance did too, and I didn’t feel supported by my teachers. They blamed everything on my attendance like it was all my fault. I struggled to make any friends and would stand next to a lamppost during breaktimes or follow people and get told to go away.


Baby Livvy

I was lucky to have my dad; he knew there was something else going on, so he took me back to the doctor. Finally, after my 18th birthday, I was diagnosed with Autism and everything started making sense. My Autism had been triggering seizures and vice versa. I have EDS too, so that also effected things.

It is hard seeing other people my age doing things I can’t. My sisters have conversations I don’t always understand, I can’t cook or walk too far. It can feel quite isolating, but I feel lucky to have the answers now and for having such supportive people around me.

College has been much better than high school. I am excelling in my learning and being understood for who I really am. I have a learning support mentor called Alice, who I could not fault. She is very understanding, we always have a laugh and I couldn’t thank her enough. I used to have a course leader who is deaf, so I learnt some sign language too. I embrace myself and the things I love- like cats and unicorns- and don’t let anybody stop me.

My dad does what he can to give me my independence. I have a very young niece and two nephews who I love, and I wish I could take them to the park on my own. But although my dad comes with me, he always takes a few steps back or sits on the bench.

I think it is important to know that no two people with Autism are the same. There is no specific one trait, but there is still this stigma of “You don’t stim, so you can’t have Autism”.

Everybody is different, you cannot change them and they should be accepted for who they are. Understanding this helps people like me embrace our diversity instead of feeling isolated.