Welcome

Welcome to AutistRhi.com, I’m Rhi and in 2015 I finally got to the end of a thirty-five year journey, when I was identified as autistic. With that crinkled sheet of paper in hand, I found myself at the beginning of a whole new journey of understanding and acceptance.

Rhi Lloyd-Williams

I’ve got something that I think everyone in this world wants in some way, an answer for why I feel different. The price of that answer is that I’m never going to feel un-different. The best I can strive for is indifferent to the differences, and that is a worthy thing to have. My diagnosis makes me normal. It makes me a part of something bigger. I want to share where I am, who I am, and why that’s important.

Lucy Theobald performing The Duck

I started this blog in 2016 and since then I’ve written and toured my play, The Duck – which you can find out all about at The Story so Far. The Duck is also now available on the Kindle and as an Audio Recording, which you can find more details about at The Duck.

I’ve performed my poetry, I’ve spoken at conferences and training days, I’ve run workshops, I’ve worked as a mentor and advocate for other autistic adults. It’s been a privilege to learn and share and learn some more.

Rhi’s dog, Blod
on Instagram

You can follow me on Twitter at @Outfoxgloved where I share things about autism and general ponderings, I’m also on Facebook as AutistRhi and if you just like nice pictures of my garden and things I’ve come across throughout my day, you can follow my non-autism-related Instagram at @Rhi_lw.

I do like my rules and so I’m going to share the rules of my work with you:-

Rhi performing poetry at the Autism Arts Festival 2019

1. First rule is that I talk about how I work and why, so that people can gain a better understanding of how autism can affect autistic people very differently, but often has the same roots and motivations going on behind the scenes. Once you know why someone is doing something it becomes understandable – even the seemingly strange can have a simple explanation which helps us accept each others’ differences.

Rhi and Jo Loyn – Director of The Duck – on the first day of rehearsals 2017

2. Second rule is that just because I do it differently, it doesn’t mean that my way of doing things is the wrong way. This world is so much better when we all work to our strengths and support each others’ weaknesses. 

Rhi Speaking at the Hay Festival

3. Third rule is that I share my experiences to help explain things but that doesn’t mean all my experiences are shared by every autistic person. Just as non-autistic people are all incredibly different, so are autistic people. That’s why it’s so important to listen to each other on an individual basis.

Blog Posts

Monday Meltdown

I can be really rubbish to myself sometimes. The only thing worse than a Monday Meltdown is the accompanying feeling that I really should have grown out of this. I should have grown out of reacting to a sudden change in my week’s plans. I should have grown out of needing to prepare carefully for…

I am Finite

As an autistic adult I am aware that everyday things drain me. I have built a balanced life but that doesn’t mean imbalance doesn’t have its place too. “What I can cope with is immense. If you could feel it and stay standing you would be in awe of autistic people.”

We All Need to Work More Autistically

The other day I was at work and was hit by a revelation. It had been nagging at me for a while – I could feel that something had shifted. But I never would have predicted that I would be facing the world of work with a social advantage due to my autism. I’ve had…

The Token Autistic

During Lockdown Number Two (the sequel to the ever-popular Lockdown Number One) I started writing a story for my daughter. I’d write a chapter during the day whilst she was homeschooling and then later on we’d snuggle up and I’d read it to her. It was our thing and it was lovely. Then the world…

Autistic Turbulence

The last couple of days have been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I am a hive of activity and then a still, mountain lake. I’m either overachieving or motionless, really happy or distraught. In the past few years when I’ve been like this it’s always been pointed out to me, but due to too…

Virtually Accessible Interviews

Almost three years ago to the day I wrote about a gruelling interview process that took me months to recover from. Reading through it recently it struck me how different my experience of interviewing has been during the pandemic. It’s not a perfect process and I don’t want to pretend that it’s easy, but in…

Resilience

People often question the resilience of autistic people, but I believe they are more resilient than most will ever know. I salute you all #ActuallyAutistic

5 Lockdown Tips to get you Through

As England is about to join Wales in a National Lockdown, I thought it might be time to write something about how this year has changed my life and how I deal with the tricky bits. Tip number 1: Focus on the good things I really struggled with this one during the first lockdown and…

Being an optimist can be hard work

I didn’t grow up an optimist. I don’t think it’s my natural setting. I’m naturally a pragmatist and over-thinker, which can lead to being frozen in time. When you think of every possible permutation of what could happen, you have to think of the catastrophic too. I’m a natural risk assessor. I’m good at ranking…

If the world were built for me

If the world were built for me there would be no start times or end times, there would just be the work that needed doing and the space in which to do it. If the world were built for me no one would ever assume poor eye contact meant low trustworthiness. If the world were…

Autistic Pride

Today is Autistic Pride day and I am contemplating what that means to me. My journey since discovering I was autistic has been one of ups and downs. I’ve had a lot of rethinking to do, a lot of processing, a ridiculous number of times exclaiming, ‘Oh that’s why I reacted like that; it was…

Autistic Art

I’ve been thinking a lot about being an autistic artist. I’ve been thinking a lot about everything. There’s been a lot to think about during Lockdown, a lot to realise and come to terms with. I’ve been thinking about being an autistic artist, and what that means, how it works for me. There can be…

Autistic Joy

I remember the first time I heard the term Autism actually being applied to someone: I was seventeen, it was 1997, and I was volunteering with a local respite care team during the Summer Holidays. There was a huge group of children with various disabilities and difficulties, and I was there to… well… play with…

Lockdown Limits

I’m lucky. I’m enormously lucky. I keep telling myself this, because it’s true. In many ways my life is very similar to my normal day-to-day world, but the pattern has changed completely. I have less time to write and be creative than I normally do, the helpful social media posts about how much we can…

When the World Changes…

One of the first things I noticed about people when I started my informal psychological studies of them as a teenager, was that angry people are often frightened people trying to regain control.  Someone added me to a local Coronavirus Support Group on social media this week. At first I thought, “That sounds great -…

Preparing for Uncertainty

There’s an emergency situation going on and it’s outside of our control. There is uncertainty about what is going to happen and when, and that will be making life particularly difficult for autistic people. I’ve been feeling a low level buzz in my chest since I first realised that there was a high likelihood that…

I can’t

I’m ruminating on something small that happened this week. It was so small that I suspect it passed by unnoticed by everyone except me. It wasn’t big or important but it shone a light on my weaknesses in a way that I hadn’t been anticipating. I have far bigger challenges and far more pressing obstacles,…

Demand Avoidance and Katherine May

I spend a lot of time trying to get one over on myself; sneaking around the back so I don’t work out what I’m up to until I’m too late. As soon as I feel like I have to do something, I run in the other direction. The worst thing about it is that the…

Autistic Health and Wellbeing

It’s been a busy few months, but Florence Neville of FlorenceNeville.com and I are so happy to announce a whole new website dedicated to Autistic Health and Wellbeing This is a place run by autistic people for autistic people. It’s based on Flo’s Masters project which looked into how some autistic people use their focus and…

Recovering my Autism

It’s been a stormy few days. There’s been a strong wind pouring in over the sea and I’ve been watching the birds fight and fail to fly into it. First a flock of starlings gave in and threw themselves down to cling to the branches of an ash tree, then the rooks made a passable…

New Things: Autism

A few weeks ago I was deep in the throes of writers’ block, and in a moment of madness booked myself onto a writing course to try to stimulate my words. I don’t necessarily need a course in writing, I need to know the rules better, I need something I don’t seem to have at…

Mental Health and Motherhood

In the UK suicide is the leading cause of death amongst new mothers, so why aren’t we talking about how hard it can be?

Autistic Heroes

It’s hard not to watch Greta Thunberg speak without being overcome by two things; the first – and strongest – is admiration, and the second is envy. I don’t envy her the criticism she has had levelled at her. I don’t envy her the comments made by those who have no clue whatsoever about autism.…

Playing at Autism

The story of how my play, The Duck, came into being. Reblogged from Autact Two years ago, Jo Loyn and I were sitting in my kitchen in Wales, watching the rain tear at the hills in a stereotypically Welsh way, and enjoying a Summery mug of tea, when she asked me if I’d be interested in writing…

Autistic Exhaustion

Being autistic brings various challenges and joys with it. I adore my hyper-focus and passions, but I loathe the inevitable misunderstandings and sensory bombardments. I am a carefully balanced human. I know that things that won’t be stressors to other people will be problematic for me. I know that spending time in a group will…

Low Functioning

I’m having a bad day. I move slowly. I wash my hands and feel my fingers slide over each over, caught in the fascination of how slowly I am taking things in. I usually flash from one thought to the next, but that’s gone now. I am in treacle. I keep getting stuck on things.…

The Average Autistic

There’s a line in my play, The Duck, that I keep mulling over. It says, “File it away for later; the things for me and the things for the rest of the world – the unreal and the real.” It’s something that haunts my memories of being a young autistic girl. I needed to learn…

Trying to make the World a Better Place

I haven’t written anything for a while – my literal side wants to correct that; I am constantly writing: I have been writing emails and blurbs and all sorts of things to get people to engage and want to see my writing, but I haven’t been writing. What is it about the marketing of creativity…

Mental Health: Autism

I take my mental health very seriously; I’m an autistic perfectionist whose favourite pastime is self-criticism, so I have to. I have the additional issue that if someone’s praise of me is implied rather than explicit, it doesn’t exist, which makes my mind a perfect-storm of self-doubt. I am someone who takes great pride in…

Finding your Polytunnel: Autism

What on Earth has a polytunnel got to do with autism? What even is a polytunnel? What are you talking about? Is this a tangent too far? All fair questions, and all with answers – tangential as they might be. I’m writing this from my polytunnel. It’s a ten metre, steel-framed structure covered in some…

Mindfulness for the Perpetually Mindful

I had a marvellous time recently at the Welsh Autism Conference run by ASDinfoWales. It was a carefully thought out day run for adult autistic people without additional learning difficulties. Many of the speakers and people running workshops were autistic, and it was my pleasure to have been invited to run a couple of workshops…

All the Autism Awareness

It is World Autism Awareness Day and my autism is making itself known. One of the most frustrating parts of my being autistic is the exhaustion and headaches that follow big events. All that processing, all that sensory bombardment, all that concentration on interactions, and no matter how wonderful and amazing the day, I shall…

Autism is a Woman-Thing

On Wednesday I put a post up about ten things autism isn’t. Today I shall add number eleven Autism isn’t just a male thing More and more women are being recognised as autistic now that we have stopped making assumptions based on sex. There are no Male or Female brains (Check out Gina Rippon’s new…

Ten things Autism isn’t…

I was going to write about what autism is, but as I wrote it transmogrified into what autism isn’t, so here is my list of what autism is not:- 1. Autism is not being socially awkward It’s not awkwardness. Autistic people are often excellent at socialising with each other, where they can avoid eye contact,…

Writing Autism

When we create autistic characters, we have a responsibility not to rely on outdated stereotypes

Happy New Year

Ah, the end of year. A time to reflect on what has passed and what is yet to come. A time for change – or at least a time for thinking about change and then deciding against it. When I ponder about how 2018 has changed me, I can’t help but think that 2017 seems…

Autistic Gifts

Christmas, for me, is about showing the people I love how I feel about them. It’s a time when it’s okay to build routines, because we can call them traditions and that makes them indisputable. One of the things I learnt when I found out I was autistic, is that when I get terribly run…

Mistakes

😉 For all that I love emojis I have a blind spot for the difference between emoji and emoticon. Just to ensure we are all on the same page (and remind me when I inevitably forget again):- This is an emoji This is an emoticonI use emojis a lot in informal written communication. They are…

The Power of Empathy

I’m one of those people who uses humour to deflect. When someone compliments me, or says something kind, I usually have a witty quip to help me emotionally duck-under their emotional reaching-out. But here’s the thing, “Many a true word is spoken in jest.” I’ve always thought that only applies to people being mean. I…

Meltdown

This week I had my first meltdown in a really long time. The cause was poor communication from an organisation. It included unclear plans, a changing schedule, not being informed of those changes, and concluded in a social lie that is supposed to be an acceptable way of communicating, but is actually really painful. There’s…

Neither Use Nor Ornament

It’s been a funny old year, and it’s not over yet.  Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in hiatus? That’s how I’ve always felt. I’ve constantly been waiting for life to begin; constantly holding off for things to happen; constantly thinking, ‘Once I’ve finished this bit, I can start doing that bit’, but that’s…

Unwelcome Guests

I’ve welcomed in an old friend this morning, and she’s happily making herself at home. At the moment she’s lying over my chest making each breath a shallow grab.  I don’t like her, but instead of kicking her out, I’ve fed and watered her, and you know what happens when you feed someone; you make…

Taking or Leaving the Mask

I am a guilty masker. I’ve always masked. It’s a complex creation with different weights and different angles. Each occasion has a different variation of it, a different material, a different pattern. I have my work mask; professional, straight-backed, walking tall. She has a specific amount of makeup and specific hair. She keeps her outlandish…

Swimming Uphill

So what’s it like spending a weekend camping at a Fringe Theatre Festival, when you’re autistic? Tiring. That’s probably the word. Tiring both physically and emotionally. I am so glad that I went, and so frustrated that I didn’t have the energy to do more, to see more, to connect more. I hadn’t been to…

An Open and Fair Interview

There have been various intangible variables floating on my horizon, and they have been draining my reserves. I usually use those reserves to share and enthuse, and I have missed doing that.   I’m going to share something difficult. I am a perfectionist and hate to get things wrong. I am going to share a…

The Duck: An Autistic Play

I’m in hiding. I don’t have time to be in hiding, it’s possibly the worst thing I could be doing at the moment, and yet hiding is where I am.   I feel like I opened the floodgates because a beautiful butterfly fluttered by, and now the waters are rising and I can’t get the…

My head hurts and it’s a good thing

I’m not a joiner. Even when I really want to do things, I find groups hard. There is always so much going on, so many variables, so many possible ambushes – small-talk, change, new social rules – that I feel overwhelmed before I begin. How I spend my cherished energy is important, it is a…

In Celebration of Autistic Motherhood

Unlike unicorns and dragons and mermaids, autistic mothers are real. We don’t get a lot of media-representation, we don’t seem to fit the stereotypes, but we exist.   Motherhood and autism brings to my mind the scent of my children as they lay in my arms as babies. Just the two of us, alone in…

Hiraeth for Autism

Hiraeth pronunciation:- Hi – The Hi from Hiccup Rae – pronounced the same as the wry of a wry smile (if you pronounce wry with a rolled ‘R’, but let’s not overcomplicate) Th – The Th from Think   Hiraeth is an untranslatable Welsh word. It’s often described as homesickness or a sort of nostalgia,…

Autism Aware

In January I decided that this was the year that I would step outside my comfort zone. The secret to being able to do that, is first you have to build a comfort zone from which to step.   Being an undiagnosed autistic woman meant that I lived in the desert. I was permanently outside…

Welcoming Accessibility

I am aware of my autism. Sounds are grating, they twang through my ears like over-extended elastic bands, and I wait for them to snap and hit me.   I have things to plan, and I am putting off planning them so that I don’t miss out on what is actually happening now. I don’t…

Sensory Seeking

I am a sensory seeker and always have been. As a small child I was never without my comfort blanket, as I got older I was never without my scraps of “the right sort” of fabric, which I would rub between forefinger and thumb. The texture would have to be “right” and the “rightness” has…

An Autistic Woman

What is it about being a woman that makes me happy? I don’t know if I can answer that. Being a woman just is. It carries some burdens and some joys. I’ve spoken about Bras before and how much I loathe them, I’m not sure I’ve really written much about my experience of being an…

Spectrum Thinking

Neurotypicality is a spectrum.   Neurotypicality: a brain that works like most of the population’s, i.e. not autistic or epileptic or any other kind of neurodivergent brain type   It’s not something that you usually have to state, because nobody expects people with brains that work in expected ways, to all behave identically. That would…

Beginnings

January swelled and fell with a clash of cymbals. I started the year with the flu. It was my own fault for waxing lyrical (I’ve never been able to work out a pattern for that particular saying, but I love the sound of it) about not getting ill at Christmas since my diagnosis. I invited…

Autscriptic: Mild Autism

In 2016 I wrote a post that seemed to capture people’s imagination in a way that others didn’t. Autscriptic has since been shared far and wide. It taught me that there is great power in sharing conversations between neurotypes: Laying bare the misunderstandings that tangle us up. The first Autscriptic was about the trials of…

Festive Autism

Musings and memories of a year almost over

Autism, Labour and Birth

I don’t usually talk about my children, they have their own stories, but those stories are not mine to tell. But their beginnings in this world are my tales, so I shall tell them. I have been in labour five times. The first was in hospital, the next three were home water-births and the final…

Performing Pain: Autism

Communicating pain when you are autistic can lead to so many miscommunications.

The Four Social Rules every Autistic Person needs to Learn

Trigger warning – although this post doesn’t mention any detail of abuse, it is about the dangers of teaching someone not to trust in their right to say no From a young age I was taught three things:- The messages I get from my body are wrong Not wanting to be touched is wrong That…

How I Show Love: Autism

Communication is a two-way street and when it comes to autism, it’s often one-way traffic. When I say that people usually assume they know what I mean. They think I mean that autistic people are disordered and can’t communicate as well as non-autistic people. That’s not what I mean. Communication is one-way traffic insofar as…

The Power of ‘Can’ over ‘Should’

I love words. I love how they roll around my tongue and catch on my teeth. I love how they dangle and splutter and sometimes struggle to find their way out. Last week I did something new. I entered poems in a competition that required a reading. It was easy enough, I signed my name…

Autistic Bilingualism

I am expected to be fluent in non-autistic, but it will always be my second language.

Leading Questions

This is something that has been bothering me lately, it has made me angry with myself for missed opportunities. It has meant that when I have reached out at times, I have fallen at the first hurdle. I’m talking about falling for Leading Questions. They deserve to be capitalised. They are repulsive things, tricksy and…

Autistic Peers

It’s time we recognised a real need for #Autistic peer support. We need each other.

You’ll get used to it…

‘You’ll get used to it.” They said, and I waited. I waited for that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof click in my head that would mean it had settled into background noise. But it never came. Not for the seams on my socks, or the band of my bra, or the brace for my…

My Gift is Time

Why autistic people may find it hard to build relationships: the time we need to invest in each interaction is so much higher.

Angry or Gentle: being misunderstood

Year one post-autism-diagnosis was a year of changing how I see myself. It was a year of learning to accept my changeable limits and deciding to work with my autism instead of against it. So far, year two is about other people. Those in my immediate circle, family and friends, have begun to feel comfortable…

Change

I’m in the middle of reading Luke Beardon’s new book, “Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults” and I’ve paused to splurge this. I am frantically typing because I want to get back to it, but didn’t want to lose my train of thought. I’m on the chapter about autistic resistance to change. Luke is sympathetically…

When is a Stim-Toy not a Stim-Toy?

There’s been a lot of talk about annoyance at the main-streaming of stim-toys like fidget spinners. It seems like every child I know has one. In some ways it’s been lovely seeing something designed for Neurodiverse people, being taken up by the mainstream. But then came the inevitable backlash, because it’s a loophole in many…

Adieu Autism Awareness

As another Autism Awareness month is over, I’m feeling silent. Acceptance or not, I shall carry on being here. Diagnosis or not, I shall carry on being who I am. Noticed or not, I shall still be. Wasn’t it Descartes who said, “I think as an autistic, therefore I am an autistic”? Or something like…

My Autistic Physicality

I didn’t know I used my muscles in strange ways until it was pointed out to me. I didn’t know it was a thing. I hadn’t seen it in the diagnostic criteria, though I may well have been asked about it. I would have answered that I move well, no issues. My reflexes are fast,…

Accessibility

I like to write about the good bits. I like to write about the joys that autism brings me. So much of the world wants me to focus on the bad bits. They want me to look at my deficits. No one can live like that. No one can live happily with someone pointing out…

Waves

https://youtu.be/1XJRhIzyU0o Waves Did you ever let the whole world in With a thought? Were you ever told that one wave on the beach Was the important one And though you tried to catch it It was drowned in the crashes and splashes All around? Autism isn’t separate and distant, It’s a connection to everything; The…

Autism’s Love

I am a hoarder. I should probably write a self-help book, but I’d just hoard that too. My parents were hoarders before me, so I can’t just blame my neurotype. I was lucky enough to hear the wonderful Susan Kruse speak recently about her ideas on Autistics and Love. I’m going to paraphrase clumsily, but…

Children and Adulting and Autisming

There is a freedom that comes with having children around. It starts with their lack of expectations. Those big, round eyes don’t have an idea of who I should be, they haven’t developed those advanced skills of pre-conceptions and pigeonholing. Children love it when you listen. They love it when you try to answer their…

Autism Poetry

I always struggle to write poetry specifically about autism. How do you write about a process? You end up bogged down in the behaviours that result from it, instead of the thing you were trying to focus on.  These are last night’s headscribbles.  I hope you enjoy them.  When I try to write About the…

An Autistic Anniversary 

I know I’m supposed to be ashamed. I know that. I know autism is supposed to be a loaded term, spoken in hushed whispers, a reassuring hand on a shoulder, a pitying frown. It’s supposed to be “risk of” and “suffers from” and “unfortunately”. I can’t quite decide if it’s my autism that keeps those…

Autistic Voices: An Echo

I’ve been reading. That’s not news really. I’m always reading. I used to read voraciously and quickly, but ten years ago I changed my style. Why would I rush through words that I love, when I can pause and savour them? Where’s the logic in that. Sometimes my autism makes me repeat lines over and…

Tomorrow the World

My hands smell of soil, they are stained and scratched, dirt embedded under my fingernails. I like to call it a gardener’s manicure. I usually hate anything under my nails, sand grates and teases me terribly, but not mud. Not the evidence of a job well done. I am quiet now. After a week of…

Finding a Voice

Yesterday the world changed. It was a tiny shift. A momentary slide. Barely a bubble in the wake of a wave. Small but powerful, I’ve been knocked off my feet. Yesterday the National Autistic Society (NAS) ran a course for Autistic people who want to do Public Speaking about Autism to help the world understand.…

Mother’s Day

I’m not a lover of cards. In fact I loathe them. Little demanders of time and obligation. They sit there demanding to be bought and written and sent as tokens of love. And I don’t. I don’t send them, because they don’t mean anything to me. Particularly at set times of year. An arbitrary day…

Autism Awareness: Are we nearly there yet?

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with AA! Not not Alcoholics Anonymous. No, not the Automobile Association. I’m talking Autism Awareness! In the run up to Autism Awareness Week and Day and Month and Millennia, I’ve been thinking about what it is I really want the world to be aware of. Most people…

Autism is the Key

My husband always says you can find me in the logic. My actions are always reasoned. There’s always a clear pattern to follow. What that meant, before I knew I was autistic, was that all of my logical conclusions about who I am were deeply flawed. That I misjudged and misconstrued both my own motivations,…

Stop Looking over my Shoulder!

I hate people looking over my shoulder, it’s the worst. They’re close and intrusive and they’re stealing my actions with their eyes. It’s even worse when it’s me. I am so fed up of me looking over my own shoulder. She’s ridiculous. I’ll be messaging someone a cheery, “How’s things?” And she throws in a…

A Perfect Day

It’s my birthday soon. My husband asked me what I’d like to do for the day. Which is a big, open question. The biggest and most open, yawning-cavern-like question, based only on my own desires. I am thinking. What would my perfect day look like? For a start it would involve a lie in. A…

International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day, and I haven’t done anything to prepare for it. I haven’t made any wishes or baked a cake… there’s a chance I don’t know the etiquette. Perhaps instead I shall talk about autistic women and celebrate them. I’ll begin with one of the reasons I started this blog (mainly so you’ll…

Duvets and Bears

It’s Monday. The sky is a wrinkled sheet of grey. The dawn chorus is chiding me for staying beneath my duvet just a little longer. Just as I brace myself for a change in texture, from brushed cotton to cold clothing, the rain starts to patter and I falter. Today I have made space to…

Feelings ARE Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about thoughts and I’ve been thinking about feelings. For years I’ve wrongly categorised those two things. I’ve always seen them as two separate entities controlled by two different systems. I’m adjusting my thinking. ‘Thoughts’ is the umbrella term for the movement of ideas and actions around my head. Feelings I often associated…

How to help an Autistic

Last year I was sent this wonderful Ted Talk to listen to. I wasn’t sure of its relevance at first, but it soon became clear. Here it is, well worth a watch: Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen It got me thinking about so many of my problems, and they are all…

Truth and Beauty

  Here’s a truth for you; you don’t have to have experienced something for it to be true. It’s a good truth. A pure truth. A worthy truth. I experience the world through my senses. I process the world through my autism. Everything I feel and hear and see is poured into me through my…

Red Kites and Autism

There are a pair of Red Kites that circle the skies outside my window. They flit in and out of view throughout the day, flashing their red at me, rolling in and out of air currents splendiferously. Home is where the Red Kites roll, and rock, and roll again. Thirty years ago they were a…

The Day my Autism Saved my Daughter’s Life

  I wrote this back in October. Then I decided not to post it. Why? Because I feared judgement.  When it happened I blamed myself. I should have been watching every second. I should have been better. I had run a risk assessment of the field: I’d noted no heights to fall from, no water to fall…

I don’t understand.

“I don’t understand.” I say this often. It’s one of my catchphrases these days. I use it when people behave in a way that seems illogical and strange to me. I use it when I’m hurt. I don’t understand why people can’t let me know if they’re running late. I don’t understand why people don’t…

Silliness

I’m hiding in the kitchen. I should probably admit that up front, just so you don’t think I’m someone I’m not. Family have come round. I’m tired. There was this sudden feeling of proximity and being encroached upon. I have made my excuses, and am hiding. I don’t want them all to stop interacting and…

New Year’s Eve

Here I go again. Travelling off to see people for New Year’s Eve. Quite the social butterfly. I’m sitting, strapped down, wings tucked in, as we race through the windy, Welsh roads. All corners. Welsh roads skirt every obstacle, and when your country is built of valleys carved by water and its wayward passage making,…

Eventful Autism

Winter is a time of events and social quandaries. This year I have been kinder to myself about ensuring I get some recovery time. It’s so important. Such a huge part of self-care. At a party I’m often coping at my limits. I suddenly feel like I’m made of corners, I’m aware of every angle…

Friends

It’s hard to make friends when you’re a grown up. Plenty of neurotypicals struggle with it, it’s certainly not just autistic people who find building new friendships hard. The problem with building friendships, is that you have to invest time and energy in people, in the hopes that you will like them, they will like…

Autism in the Winter

I love the winter. Spaces that summer warmth fills with people, are emptied by North winds. Faces and voices are muffled by scarves and hats. Expressions are muted. People hide away in homes, or collect together in arranged huddles at Christmas markets and concerts. Groupings are pre-arranged and less organic. I’m less likely to fall…

The Princess and the Pea was Autistic

I remember reading the story of the Princess and the Pea as a child and thinking, “I’d notice the pea”. For anyone who doesn’t know the story, it’s a tale in which they proved someone was a Princess by placing a pea under a huge tower of mattresses. When the girl in question didn’t sleep…

Happiness

Everyone’s searching for happiness. Everyone. We’ve got a world which tells us that if we could just live here, own this, wear this, holiday here, have these friends, have this job, and on and on and on, we would be happy. As an autistic rule follower I was lucky that I grew up in a…

Mirroring

There are two types of mirroring, one is instant (whether conscious or not) and the other is delayed. I remember reading up on interview techniques in my early 20s (always researching). There was a chapter about the importance of body language. It talked about mirroring and how mimicking the interviewer’s body language would make them…

Hyper-focus

Perhaps the functioning labels aren’t so bad, if they could just be applied to me at different times. It’s been a month of ups and downs, of achievements and limits. I have gone from the high energy and hyper focus of high-functioning-Rhi, to the shutdown and inability to do the simplest of tasks of low-functioning-Rhi,…

Success

They say success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration; well I’ve got perspiration. I’ve got perspiration coming out of my ears! … Where was I? Oh yes, my sweaty, sweaty ears. But what happens when that perspiration and inspiration mean you hit your limits before you’ve completed the requisite socialisation? Sweatier ears for a start.…

Accessible Autism

Access to services doesn’t just mean that services need to exist, it means we need to be able to access them. I’m not good at contacting people. That is an enormous under-exaggeration. I am terrible at contacting people. If it needs to be done by face or by phone, I may never do it at…

Creative Autism

What is it about creativity and the autistic brain? I don’t like generalising about autism, we’re all so ridiculously different, but creativity is a theme that comes up often. Creativity in the arts, in science, in mathematics, in music, in the written word, in building, in gardening, in so much more. There’s no correlation with…

Hiatus

Maybe it’s the change in weather as the Autumn leaves start to fall, but I’m in hiatus. I’ve been frantically busy for a month and now I’m feeling that energy hangover. From my aching joints, to my slow-moving limbs, I am tired. I feel distanced from the world at times like this. Cocooned in some…

National Poetry Day

I’ve been playing with poetry recently, and since its national poetry day I’m going to pop this one up. I had written it for a specific competition, but my executive function issues got in the way, and I ended up missing the deadline. Ah well. It’s an attempt at a Welsh style called a Cynghanedd…

Overcoming autism?

  I often read this narrative online, “So-and-so overcame their autism and succeeded at something.” It makes me feel uncomfortable. It makes me worry that one day someone might say, “Rhi overcame her autism to write”, which would be to fundamentally misunderstand both me and my autism. One of the positives of autism can be…

Gaslighting

Being an undiagnosed autistic has many challenges. When you compare your reactions to things with other people’s, you feel like you’re getting it wrong. When other people take things in their stride, and your brain feels like it’s expanding inside your skull to the point you can’t think, then you feel like you’re overreacting. And…

I’m sorry…

Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean I don’t still have to do the processing. I know you’re sorry you’re late. You’ve broken a small social contract, and sorry should be enough to mend it, but it’s not the social contract that is troubling me. You’re sorry you didn’t let me know that plans had changed. You…

Neurotypical Awareness

Being diagnosed late in life has meant that I’ve needed to learn a lot about a new subject that I didn’t know applied to me. I’ve read personal accounts written by autistic people, I’ve read research papers, I’ve looked into coping mechanisms – and mostly found that I’ve built my own solutions over the years…

To the lonely neurotypical parent…

I saw a post today by a parent of an autistic child. It was reaching out. Reaching out for people. It spoke about the loneliness of being a neurotypical parent who wanted to connect with the people around her, but who put her autistic child’s needs first, because they couldn’t cope with the interactions. I…

I don’t speak for your child

I can’t speak for your child. I keep coming back to this. I can’t speak for everyone. I’ve had a lifetime of people assuming they know what I think by my actions. Assuming that they know who I am at a glance. People still make assumptions. When I write things, those who don’t want to…

Bottle-necking

  Coping strategies are important when you’re autistic.   Sensory issues can be eased by stimming, headphones, dark glasses. Stimming distracts from negative information, creating positive sensations that make it easier to deal with an influx. Headphones and dark glasses reduce the amount of information our brains have to deal with. For me they all fall…

Labelling

  This morning my car wasn’t happy, so I took my son’s go-kart-in-car’s-clothing on the school run. He’s not passed his test yet, so it has Learner Plates on it. And oh how they make a difference to how other drivers behave around you. Most people give you a bit more space, just in case…

Cobwebs: Autistics and Neurotypicals

Autistics and Neurotypicals are a perfect pairing. My husband is neurotypical. I’m autistic. Relationships aren’t always easy, but there’s something about our pairing that works. When we first got together, there were many miscommunications. They started with my blunt “I like you, I find you attractive.” Which he assumed couldn’t be fully genuine, because people…

Hiding or Ignored?

There have been a few articles of late about the under-diagnosis of women with autism. I’ve spent a lot of time nodding along. After-all, I’m late-diagnosed. I was raised with no acknowledgement of my sensory and processing issues. I’m one of the lost generations, lucky enough to be found. But sometimes the rhetoric behind it…

I wanted to be good

That rule-following little girl, she really wanted to be good. She wanted to be able to eat all the food on her plate, even though the textures made her gag. She wanted to not shudder and press her ears to each shoulder in turn, every time you scraped your plate and it made that sound…

Autism and Work

Below is an account of a time when other people’s poor communication, and my lack of understanding of myself, led to me having to leave a job for the sake of my health. Workplace bullying isn’t restricted to autistic people, but it is very common. A perfect storm of social expectations, misunderstandings and being misunderstood,…

Unexpected Side Effects of Autism

There are ways that I am far from the perfect parent. I struggle with the school-gate networking. I find changes to plans hard. I need down time after social occasions, I can’t run from one to another constantly. I also struggle with certain routine tasks. Shopping is one of them. Eating regularly is another. My…

The Autistic Community 

One of the most incredible things that the modern world has given us, is a new way to communicate. I want to talk about an emerging group, the Autistic Community. When I first got diagnosed, I didn’t really know what to do. I had no idea that such a community existed. I was still me.…

Autism is a Normal Neurological Variance

What is Autism? It’s a social processing condition. It’s a different way of processing sensory information. It’s a different way of interfacing with the world. What isn’t autism? Autism isn’t a learning disability. Autism doesn’t mean a low or high IQ. Autism isn’t a behavioural problem. Autism isn’t a person trapped inside a mental cage.…

Safety Nets 

When I first got my diagnosis of autism, I was assured by the experts that nothing was different. I was still the same me that had walked through the door. And I agreed. When I told family about my diagnosis, I told them it didn’t change anything, I was still me. And they agreed, When…

Curing Autism

  Can we talk about a cure? There’s a real problem when it comes to Autism, and it’s not to be found in us autistics. It’s to be found in the focus of funding. Time and time again I see people struggling to get diagnosed, and then struggling when there is so little real support…

Daisy Chains

In a field of wheat I’m a daisy. The stalks grow close and suffocating, Their shade starves me, Their paper touch deserts me. When the wind blows and they move in waves I cannot bend with them. I watch them move together, Beautiful and swirling, As they jostle my leaves. I am a daisy in…

I would have built robots

When I was little I wanted to make robots. I was going to be an inventor. Robots were the future, they were going to be everything, and I was going to design them. I’d spend ages drawing pictures of different tin-cans with claws and wheels and springs. I remember being frustrated that I didn’t know…

Memory and Me

My brain is letting me down. It’s ageing. I didn’t agree to this. I didn’t sign up for it. You can give me laughter lines. I’m happy for my nipples to swing like clock pendulums. You can grey my hair and fuzz my chin, but for the love of all that is holy, please leave…

Diagnosis, Rain and Tractors

Why now? What brought me to diagnosis in my thirties? It began with a random article. It was about the under-diagnosis of autistic women. I had no particular reason to read that particular article. It just sounding interesting. It was just there. As I read, a tingly feeling started in the back of my neck.…

The Highs and Lows of Functionality

I want to talk about my relationship with the functionality of Autism. This is not based on research. This is not based on how I compare myself to other autistic people, and how we fit on some imaginary scale of usefulness. This is just about me. I don’t like the term High Functioning. Perhaps it’s…

Autscriptic

You don’t look autistic. Yes I do. You don’t act autistic though. Yes I do. Yeah, but you’re not like “properly” autistic. Yes I am. You can make eye contact. Yes I can. You don’t flap all the time. I do at birds. You flap at birds? I flap at birds. Why do you flap…

From Brilliant to Mediocre

I used to be special. I used to be an interesting neurotypical and now I’m an everyday autistic. I’m not original after all. All those actions. All those ways of being that marked me as an oddity. All those things that both attracted and repelled people in equal measure. All those idiosyncrasies, all my inspiration,…

Me and Disability

I’ve been disabled my whole life. I just didn’t know it. As I tell people about my Autism diagnosis, I reassure them that nothing about me is any different. In some ways that’s true. My brain has always worked the way it does now. In some ways it’s not. I will now work within my…

Putting the Me in Social Media

I’m not good at this. I’m putting that out there. I’m not good at social media. I’d like to blame the period I grew up in. Just before social media was huge, but not so long before, that I get a free pass from understanding it all. I love technology. I love computers. I love…

You shall not pass!

  I’ve been thinking a lot about the invisibility of autistic adults. We see a lot of focus on autistic children, and getting them to adulthood with the skills they will need. And about parents of autistic children, and what they should do, and how they can be supported. These things are important. But it…

If the world was built for me

If the world was built for me. There would be nothing wrong with me. I would be happy and safe and certain and successful. If the world was built for me, when I met people there would be no expectation of physical contact or small talk. We may ignore each other, with a socially acceptable…

Risks, Rules and Relationships

Looking back, with the illuminating force of my diagnosis, I can see a huge gap between what I thought was happening in my relationships, and the reality of it all. Although the following advice is universal, it’s something that needs clearly stating for young people on the spectrum. Autistic people tend towards black and white…

Social exhaustion 

Today I am disjointed. I wanted to write about spoon theory and explain my day, but it slipped away from me. I wanted to write about interviews and work, but the words wouldn’t come. Today I am a disjointed person. I have done too much. I have used up my spoons. I am flat and…

Parenting and Autisming

There are many articles about parenting a child with autism, but what about parenting when you’re the autistic one? I’ve read a couple of articles that suggested that autism couldn’t be an evolutionary step or a genetic trait, because autistic people don’t like relationships and so wouldn’t produce children. I should probably let all the…

Grieving for Autism

There is a grieving process that happens after a diagnosis later in life. But it’s not grieving for the autism, it’s grieving for the effort that you’ve had to put in your whole life trying to be someone you’re not. It’s grief for the you that carried that huge backpack of techniques for appearing normal,…

Awareness is dead. Long live Awareness

So it’s over. April and Awareness and Autism are long gone. We’ve all grown as people and now we can get on with our lives, safe in the knowledge that we have done our duty and made the world a better place. This was my first Autism Awareness day/week/month as a diagnosed autistic person. That’s…

Making adjustments for autism can be as easy as honesty

Lots of autistic people are already making many adjustments to fit in with the rest of you. To stop you from feeling uncomfortable. To stop you from noticing us. To keep us all safe from the shadow of “difference”. Why are we the ones making adjustments? Because majority defines normality. That’s the only reason. It’s…

Pointing at the Autism

I can’t always tell which bits of me are a result of being autistic, and which bits would have been there anyway. It may not be helpful to know one way or another. I share as many personality characteristics with other autistic people, as I do with other brown eyed people. What we do have…

Autistic Connundrums: Humans and interaction

  In some ways I may come across as a bit inside out. It’s not that I don’t like human interaction. This is something that is often misconstrued. Even amongst us autistics we are all individuals. What I don’t like is meaningless interaction. There should be a purpose to everything. Often when I’ve made mistakes…

“I do that too” The great miscommunication

A lot of people have contacted me to say that they’ve struggled with well-meaning people saying, “I have that too”, when they’ve tried to explain what it’s like to have autism. And it’s not just people with autism, but people with other hidden disabilities too. The problem that we have when people say it, is…

Post-diagnosis support: The real and the invisible.

I’m feeling a bit unsupported. I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault as such. Certainly no one I can point at, it’s more of a vague fist-shake in a general direction. Funding is always at fault though, so the lack of government funding has directly affected my journey. We can start that at the 18 month…

I’m a Bloody Bunyip! (You may have to bear with me for this one)

When I was little I had a book about a Bunyip. It was a wonderfully illustrated book about this strange feathered and furred creature, that emerged from a muddy Billabong one night and went around asking everyone it could find, “What am I? What am I?” It wandered, shunned and alone. Told it was a…

How to make an Autistic person normal.

I can hear your hackles rising from here. It’s not a nice thought, is it? How do you change someone who functions in a different way enough that they can seem the same as everyone else,and should we? Does this cure the person? Does this make them better? Does this treat Autism as some kind…

Re-thinking things through an Autistic filter

Since being diagnosed with autism in my mid-30s, I’ve been re-thinking a lot of things. I’ve spent a lifetime of trying to appear to be the same as everyone else. I’ve been watching. I’ve been studying. Every book, article, overheard conversation, brings me that little bit closer to passing for normal. I’ve spent a long…

Thank you again for reading, following, supporting, sharing and joining me on this journey. I have learnt more from all my followers than I could ever have hoped to discover alone. You have my eternal gratitude.

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