The impact of having a late diagnosis of autism (41) has been life-changing. To finally understand the ‘whys’ and to have the validation that there is a reason for never fitting in or understanding your feelings and thoughts makes a huge difference.

The light switch moment for me was when I started to understand the difference between the neurodivergent and neurotypical mind – I’d never heard of this before let alone had any understanding of it.

Masking and mimicking behaviours to fit in all my life have left me now, at times, feeling like I am going through an identity crisis, trying to be open and be my true self! The model and TV Personally Christine McGuinness has recently had a late diagnosis said ‘I grieve for the life I missed out on’ and I fully get that as part of the processing stage.

The struggles have now become people not understanding or being dismissive and ignorant of me and not taking on board the strength it takes to be open. I find the majority of neurotypical people don’t understand the difference between the two (neurotypical and neurodivergent) yet have strong opinions on autism. It’s been more of a challenge explaining my diagnosis to people I know than people I don’t.

I haven’t had the best experience explaining my diagnosis to people I know (the majority of males). Being autistic comes with many disadvantages on a personal level but the stigma in society only adds to that struggle. There needs to be better understanding and acceptance. In a time when male suicide is at an all-time high, a man speaking to another man about something which has such an impact on his mental well-being, you would expect more moral support – unfortunately, this is not always the case.

It was in 2021 when I had my diagnosis. I am still processing a lot and trying to figure out coping strategies and patterns that help me on a daily basis. It’s extremely hard at times and although I speak openly about being autistic I am very aware that I still have to mask. I think If people were less judgemental about conditions they don’t understand and listened more, this would help make a difference for people going through a late diagnosis.