April is Autism Awareness Month. What you might not know is that many of our ambassador community are neurodivergent, and today, Rachel wanted to share how she has learned that her Autism is her biggest strength and allows her to embrace her authentic self x

My name is Rachel, and I am autistic. I was diagnosed at fourteen and to be completely honest, it felt like the end of the world. On the one hand, I was happy to finally have an explanation as to why I struggled in social situations and to why I always felt as though I didn’t quite slot into the world around me. On the other hand, I saw my diagnosis as an ugly mark that was going to follow me around for the rest of my life, infecting everything that I would touch. I struggled to cope with the fact that no matter what I did, I could never undo this diagnosis. I would be autistic forever and there was nothing I could do about it. But I now know that that way of thinking is completely skewed. In reality, being diagnosed with autism was only the beginning of my life, it was certainly not the end. 


I was diagnosed considerably late. My mother, Sue-Ellen, had always thought that there was something up. When she spoke to my teachers and principal in primary school they didn’t believe her. She kept asking for an assessment for years, and when nobody believed her she did a childcare course to try and find more information. It wasn’t until I started in secondary school that I got the support I needed, and was formally diagnosed in second year.



I had always felt that there was something different about me, but I could never pinpoint what it was. In social situations, I always felt as though I wasn’t really there. It was like I was watching everyone talk and laugh from a big glass cage. I could see everything that was happening, but there was an invisible barrier preventing me from interacting with the world around me. While social situations can be challenging, I now have amazing friends and a wonderful boyfriend who love and accept me for who I am. I’ve also started seeing a therapist who has really helped me over the past year. 


Autism has shaped me in many ways. While of course there are bad days, autism has also given me many strengths. I feel everything so very deeply. I am invested in my interests with all my heart and soul. I love to read and to study history and poetry. But the thing that I am the most passionate about is the Irish language. Autism allows me to feel things on a deeper level than most people, and indulging in the things I am passionate about allows me to recharge after a long day. 

I thoroughly believe that autism is a thing that should be celebrated, not hidden away. That is why Autism Awareness Month is so important. Autism is unique to everyone who has it, and no two autistic people are the same. It is important that we celebrate our differences. Autism is something that should be embraced completely. Every neurodivergent person should embrace and celebrate their strengths, and deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin and who they are. 


My message to any autistic person, diagnosed or not, is that you deserve to take up space. Autism is not a dirty word, and if you can embrace that part of yourself it can become one of your biggest strengths. I know how difficult some days can be, but there is support out there for you if you need it. You aren’t alone in this, and everything will turn out okay.


If you need help or support, please check out our friends at AsIAm

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