Autism Spectrum Culture (ASC) is a blog that aims to bring you content about autism combining personal experiences and an evidence based approach. The site aims to:
- Educate about the past of autism – How we came to understand autism as we do today
- The current issues that face autistic people
- What we can do about the issues now to improve the future
To achieve this, ASC will bring a mixture of articles around factors relevant to autism from clinical features, to topics relevant to the future of autistic people, to current perspectives of autism in the wider media. All of this will come with support from experience, reviewed evidence, and the feedback of all of you! Whoever you are, whether autistic or not, if you want to learn more about autism then ASC is here to give some information to help.
My name is Zack, and I’m a 26-year-old autistic adult who loves to learn more about autism. I have completed degrees in Medicine and Neuroscience and Medicinal Chemistry, and throughout these found myself drawn to learning more about neurodiversity whether from theories and research papers to the experiences of the people I worked with.
I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 23 while studying my Medicine degree and this was not a shock. A lot of my relatives are autistic and growing up we just lived in our own way. I was a kid who enjoyed playing Final Fantasy games and playing in the back garden with wooden swords imagining saving dragons and defeating princesses. There was no need for me to be diagnosed when everything was working well.
Over the years I decided that I wanted to use my curiosity to learning more about health problems and put this together with my wish to help others. I studied Neuroscience and Medicinal Chemistry and learnt how much I loved the brain, discovering how it worked and why small changes on a molecular level could cause distinct changes that makes each person an individual. After completing my degree I worked as a support worker for young adults with complex support needs, working with a lot of people with autistic traits if not a diagnosis of autism. I then got accepted at medical school and studied to become a doctor.
However, this is where my challenges started to become more apparent. My levels of sensory overload started to increase making each day a struggle as I tried to keep all of the pieces together. As the social demands on me grew bigger, I started to experience more problems as my coping strategies were not able to suffice. I knew I was autistic by this point, but now I had to go and get a diagnosis to help support me in the future. After a year and a half of waiting and talking to a multitude of different professionals, I managed to get my diagnosis. From there I worked hard at my degree, but always felt like I wanted to focus more towards learning about autism and developing my understanding. As I continued on, I noticed that my training did not discuss autism much and that there were gaps in the understanding of clinicians regarding this.
I finished my degree and started working as a doctor. However, the challenges that had been becoming more apparent over the years continued to grow – general note: hospitals are really not a great environment if you have problems regulating your sensory systems. Ultimately, I had to step down from being a doctor so that I could remain healthy and be the best version of me that I can be.
That leads us to here! I’ve learnt over the years that people don’t understand enough about autism. While education has come a long way in the last century, there is still a lack of understanding into what autistic people face on a daily basis and how this feels for them. Furthermore, there is a lack of understanding into the consequences of this. Therefore, I am starting this blog in order to help provide more knowledge. As we are in the time of fake news, I want to bring content that has an evidence base – providing references to my material so that you can make up your own mind about the findings. I want to discuss the topics so that we can all learn new things. Finally, I want to hear from other autistic people and those close to them to learn about their experiences and what matters to them. Talking about our stories and what they mean is key to furthering our understanding and is important for the future.
So please – if you want to hear more from me then subscribe to the blog or add your name onto the mailing list. Thanks for reading!