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The #ActuallyAutistic Culture and Identity Project S47

Name, and/or twitter handle: Yenn Purkis / @yennpurkis

Pronouns: They/ them / their

Parent/non-parent: non-parent

Age when you selfdx/were diagnosed autistic: DX at 20 in 1995

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

Absolutely! I was bullied a lot in high school. I would have done anything I could to be more like the other kids but I didn’t know how to do it. I always knew I was different and thought it was my fault.

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

Yes. My mum also has a diagnosis of autism and we get along really well. I had a difficult start to life and my parents always stood by me. They did have some funny ideas about autism at first buts I was diagnosed in 1994 and nobody knew much about autism I don’t blame them.

3. How did you determine your ethical system?

I got to age 25 and realised I didn’t like who I was. So I set about looking at the qualities I admired in others and tried to emulate them. I had been unethical in the past and wanted that too change so I built my character around the positive equalities I saw in others. It was a privilege to get to do this. I figure it would be nice to leave the world a little better than it was when I came in and that drives my work.

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

They are pretty much the same. I am very happy with who I have become and don’t feel the need to mask or be anything other than who I am in public or private.

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

Oh yes!!

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

1. Kindness

2. Respect for diversity

3. Interesting conversationalist

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

1. Being loud

2. Having addictive behaviours

3. Engaging in competitive mental health discussions

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

I haven’t had a partner since 2002 so probably don’t have much in the way of a response to this.

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

Buy a really lovely home, employ a personal driver and give a bunch of money to organisations doing positive things in the neurodiversity space and the gender diversity space. Also get a load of cats and set up my house as a kitty playground!!

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

Having the opportunity to speak to people about what matters to me, being able to work, being respected.

11. What does success mean to you?

Being able to make change in the world. Getting to do things which I enjoy and which make a difference. I think the conventional idea of success is misleading, especially for neurodivergent folks and based on a sort of norm of existence which many can’t archive or don’t want to achieve,. I never talk about ’success’ as being a ‘good’ job, owning property or driving a nice car. These things are meaningless in terms of your happiness or worth as a person.

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

No. I am much happier and more productive on my own.

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

This question isn't relevant for me was I am not a parent of school age kids. I can still find being in a room full of parents quite stressful though.

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

Sometimes.

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

I get along really well with autistic people who are also ADHD - because I am too! I think the autism / ADHD combination might be a separate neurotype of its own.

I think I relate most in the areas of communication, having consuming passions and how we understand the world. Also how we view allistic people as allistic people don’t notice their own quirks but they can be quite amusing to autistic folks.

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

I don’t have any kids so can’t respond to this.

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

While I don’t have kids myself I do have an answer to this one:

1. Believe in yourself

2. Know that you are not ’broken’

3. If people give you a hard time the issue is them, not you

4. Connect with your autistic / neurodivergent peers

5. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t

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

Definitely no! I love my home comforts, ‘nice things’ and would be lost without my internet connection.

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

Georgian because it is so grand and beautiful. And based on Classical design. I love those Georgian terraces like the ones in Bath in the UK. I would love to live somewhere like that.

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