One week before her 23rd birthday, Catriona was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
A sense of relief came over her; she felt that she now understood herself better. With time, she came to realise that it was not wrong or bad; it was just a different way of viewing the world.
When asked what autism means to her, Catriona says, “Autism makes me who I am and even if a hypothetical cure existed, I wouldn’t take it for this reason. It makes me who I am but it does also means that life can be hard at times – there is increased social isolation, depression, c-ptsd and finding employment is difficult. It has positives and negatives for me and for many in my situation. Some of the benefits of autism are that I have an enquiring and analytical mind, that I am loyal, and that I have a wonderful memory.”
Catriona is a Joey Scout Leader with 1st Point Cook Scout Group, was a Wyndham Queens Baton Bearer in 2018, plays basketball for Altona Leopards and enjoys going on the internet, social media, gardening and watching tv.
She loves the character Saga Norén from the Swedish/Danish version of The Bridge, “she is very like me in that she has many of my traits; a lack of understanding of fashion, loves takeaway food, is direct in communication and is most importantly an adult woman on the autism spectrum. This is something you don’t often see in movies and TV.”
We all need networks to support us and Catriona is grateful for the one she has developed throughout her adult life. Of her network, she notes her friend Sharon as being central to her I Can Network, “I first met Sharon through scouting about 5 years ago, at the time I wasn’t to know she would turn out to be an extraordinary and influential woman in my life who inspires me and who I have much respect and admiration for.
Sharon has an understanding and respect for those on the autism spectrum that not all do, she likes me as me Catriona, aspie or no aspie. Sure, like all friendships we have had our ups and downs but that is par for the course, particularly with autism. Over time, we have got to know each other and today we are close friends with a lot in common. Not only is Sharon a friend but a guider.”
Catriona describes her perfect world as being a place where Autism and all kinds of differences are accepted and understood.
Catriona is telling her story as part of the I Can Network’s “Humans on the Autism Spectrum” Project. You can follow I Can Network on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to discover more stories like Catriona’s.
Catriona is looking to work in the youth/criminal justice system as an advocate for those on the autism spectrum and is available for public speaking. You can get in contact with her at firstname.lastname@example.org