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  • Community Contributor

The #ActuallyAutistic Culture and Identity Project S25

Name, and/or twitter handle: Courtney (@crcampbell1999)

Pronouns: She/her

Parent/non-parent: Non-parent

Age when you selfdx/were diagnosed autistic: Officially diagnosed at 18

1. Did you feel you were different from others as a child?

Yes, very much so. I always has trouble fitting in with my peers and only had one best friend in the year above me at primary school. However, because I was considered gifted and was relatively quiet, all my difficulties with socialising were overlooked. I later compensated in secondary school with very heavy masking, which eventually led to burnout in sixth form.

2. Are your parents supportive of you as an autistic individual?

Yes, they are very supportive. My mum and dad have made a great effort since I was diagnosed to understand my strengths and weaknesses, and have become kinder to me now due to knowing the things I may struggle with. My mum has been my biggest advocate when it came to accessing support through school and uni.

3. How did you determine your ethical system?

Like many autistic people, I have a very strong sense of justice which shapes my ethical system. I believe that all people should be treated as equally as possible and that we shouldn’t be quick to judge others. I come from quite a religious family and attend church, which does affect my ethics as well. However, I consider myself a progressive Christian - I am pro-choice and support all LGBTQ+. I don’t believe that social progressivism and faith need to be mutually exclusive and believe that all people should be valued as they are.

4. In which way does your private self differ from your outward facing front?

Even though I have tried to stop, I still mask around most people except close friends and family. This makes my outward facing front quite different from my private self. When I am with others, I tend to mimic facial expressions and hide my special interests in conversations but in private, I don’t feel the need to do any of this.

5. Do you enjoy finding mistakes/errors in the production of films and television...continuity etc.?

Yes! I am very good at spotting mistakes in these types of things.

6. What are the top 3 traits you look for in a friend?

I look for loyalty, honesty, and a good sense of humour.

7. What are the top 3 traits you perceive as negative but are willing to overlook in a friend?

I can tolerate a certain amount of impulsiveness, disorganisation and flakiness in a friend.

8. What are the top traits you look for in a partner/traits your partner possesses?

My partner is very honest, funny and supportive. He is also autistic, which I think helps us to understand each other better.

9. What would you do with your life if you had unlimited funds?

I would love to travel around the world with my partner. We would both love to visit the United States, particularly Disney World, Washington D.C. and Nashville, as well as Australia, Spain and Turkey. I would of course pay off all my uni debts (!) and buy a house to live in. Two of my special interests are Taylor Swift and music so of course I would complete my collection of Taylor merchandise and buy myself some new musical instruments! However, despite having an unlimited amount of money, I would continue to work as I feel like it gives me structure and a sense of purpose.

10. What does freedom mean to you. What does it entail?

The traditional concept of freedom - being free from constraints and responsibilities, etc., would not appeal to me as I need a high degree of routine and predictability to function. For me, freedom would be the ability to follow this lifestyle without judgement from others. It would also mean acceptance without the need to mask around others, and the freedom to spend time on my music!

11. What does success mean to you?

For me, success means achieving all I need to feel happy, but success to me also means being able to help others in any way that I can. I am in the process of applying for a graduate medicine course because I feel in this way that I can outwardly express my strong empathy for others by doing something practical for them and potentially changing people’s lives. Of course, success for me would then mean getting an offer for the course in the short term. It would also entail owning my own house someday and living happily with my partner, friends and family by my side.

12. Are you more stable/happier/productive within the structure of a relationship...partner/good friend/long-term roommate?

Yes, very much so. My partner is very supportive of me and anything that I do. We have been together for almost two years and I have found myself becoming happier and a lot more confident in myself ever since.

13. Do you find it stressful to be around other parents at school functions?

Not applicable to me!

14. How often do you pretend to not see people you know if you don’t want to talk?

I do this quite often! It depends how much energy I have that day. With family and close friends, I am happy to talk with them, but with acquaintances I am a lot more avoidant.

15. In which areas do you identify the most with other autistic people?

Even before I was diagnosed at the end of secondary school, I was always drawn towards other autistic or neurodivergent people. My best friend of 10 years is also autistic, and we became friends before either of us was ever diagnosed. I identify with other autistic people because I feel like we have a certain communication style that is direct and to the point without any of the social niceties that some NTs seem to follow. Most autistic people I know also have a great sense of humour, and I love being with people I can have a bit of a laugh with.

16. What are the most stressful aspects of parenting an autistic child as an autistic caregiver?

Not applicable to me!

17. What are the top 5 things you want your children to know about the world and why?

Again, this isn’t applicable to me for now!

18. Does living off the grid appeal to you and why/why not?

I think I would be useless at living off the grid! Although I know it is a very sustainable way to live and like the idea of it, I think that trying to be completely self-sufficient would be a disaster for me. Being able to supply water, food and electricity for myself would end up in chaos…

19. What is your favorite style of architecture and why?

I’m not an expert in this area by any means, but I do like modern architecture. I enjoy its minimalistic style as I find that older architectural styles can look a bit too ‘busy’ and decorative for me. I am also environment conscious, so I like the way that modern architects use glass to improve energy efficiency.

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