Life on the Autism spectrum

Sam - Interview 17b

Male
Age at interview: 26
Age at diagnosis: 24

Brief outline: Sam was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome two years ago. He is studying for a PhD and lives by himself.

Background: Sam is studying for a PhD. Ethnic background/nationality: White British

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Sam describes how it took him a long time to understand what it is like to be autistic and feels he has been influenced by what he has read on the topic. The main issue for Sam is his overly obsessive focus on particular things which “consume his thoughts” and make it difficult for him to do other things that he should, perhaps, do. He has always felt a “massive inseparable barrier” between himself and other people
 
He was diagnosed three years ago after experiencing mental health problems for a few years. While Sam finds most other people uninteresting, he also does not like to spend periods of time by himself as he begins to feel like he is “surrounded by a bubble of numbness”. Sam describes a constant tension between “functioning and having a normal life” and wanting to spend all his time alone in his room.
 
He enjoyed university, after a difficult time at school, and found that it was easier to be a loner in that environment. After getting his degree, he went downhill rapidly and got a diagnosis after reading about autism and realising that the criteria applied to him. Sam does not celebrate being autistic and feels very strongly that it has ruined his life. He is concerned that autistic people who celebrate the autistic culture are naïve and not engaging with the emotional, social and financial cost of autism spectrum disorders. 
 
Sam describes living in chaos and finds organising his life very, very difficult. He is starting a PhD having finished his Masters and is feeling cautiously optimistic about the future. 
 

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