Life on the Autism spectrum

Mary - Interview 01b

Age at interview: 22
Age at diagnosis: 21

Brief outline: After researching various conditions on the internet, Mary was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome aged 21. She also has OCD and experiences anxieties.

Background: Mary is single and unemployed. She has recently graduated from university and does voluntary work. Ethnic background/nationality: White

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Mary describes feeling different from a very early age as she was not able to make friends or socialise with people in ‘the usual way’. While she received a statement of Special Educational Needs at primary school, she went through school without the difficulties she experienced being followed up. Mary describes always being obsessional about hygiene and she tries to keep it under control, though the intensity varies. She also describes having very intense special interests which could become obsessional. For example, she became obsessed with the actress Kate Winslet for most of her secondary education. While Mary describes this interest in Kate Winslet as an ‘extreme obsession’, it helped her ability to focus on her school work and she went on gain a BA (Hons) 2:1 in history.
Mary was eventually diagnosed when she was 21 after researching various conditions on the internet. When she told her parents’ she thought she had Asperger syndrome, her parents agreed. Her mother had thought this for a long while but was worried about the effect of a medical diagnosis on Mary’s life chances. The diagnostic process was lengthy, and difficult, partly because, as Mary describes, the characteristics of AS can be very subtle and health professionals do not always recognise it in women. Mary describes getting the diagnosis as very ‘pleasing and reassuring to have validation from health professionals’.
Since leaving university, Mary has not been able to get employment, other than a short temporary position. Her OCD and anxieties can make her daily life unpredictable which makes regular employment difficult. She does voluntary work in several places and since the diagnosis, has had a support worker for one morning a week who accompanies her on trips out, helping her to get used to going to different places. Mary hopes to move out of her parents’ home into her own flat in a nearby town soon. In the future, she would like her own flat, a relationship and a job.


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