My autism diagnosis surprised many people in my life, and I can understand why. I'm confident, well-organised, and a clear communicator.

What those people don't realise is that I expend an enormous amount of energy presenting myself in this way ('masking' my autistic traits, so I present as neurotypical).

My daily performance is exhausting.

That said, finding out why certain things are challenging for me (things neurotypicals seem to find easy) was liberating.

Understanding my needs better gave me the confidence to ask for support and specific adjustments. For example, I now work from home for a significant part of the week because the quieter environment suits me best.

I am kinder to myself now too, and I am far better at structuring my time to suit my energy levels. For example, I schedule rest time around social activities.

I've met some incredible neurodivergent people. I am part of a community for the first time in my life.

Knowing I am autistic doesn't make my autistic challenges any easier, but it does mean I understand what they are and accept them.

There is rarely a downside to knowing and understanding yourself better.

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