‘I went from being a teacher with a first class degree to losing my power of speech’: New mother reveals how she was drugged and locked up in solitary confinement until she became suicidal after she was diagnosed with autism – Daily Mail

All my life, I’ve known I was different. As a child, I would develop all-consuming interests, poring obsessively over a subject such as the kings and queens of England until my fixation waned and then I would move on to the next thing.

When I grew older, these obsessive tendencies helped me excel at my favourite sport, swimming.

I became so good that I swam for my country on numerous occasions before retiring due to injury. I loved swimming’s precision, from the carefully calculated biomechanics of each stroke to the timing, measured in hundredths of a second, as well as the way the water felt as I moved through it.

There are other differences between me and most people, too. I experience sights, sounds and touch with incredible intensity.

I can often hear what people are saying in another room when a regular person would just hear a murmur.

My skin is very sensitive, so I feel every fibre of the clothing I’m wearing. And I find it difficult to interpret people’s body language, which can sometimes make social interaction difficult.

This all began to make sense, when four years ago, aged 30, I was diagnosed with autism. It finally helped me to understand who I am: my obsessions, the excruciating sensory overloads I can suffer when everything feels too much, and the meltdowns they lead to.

My parents – a prison officer and a police officer who are both retired now – have always been wonderfully supportive of me and my ‘quirks’. I’d achieved a first class degree in education and had been working as a teacher in Tokyo, but when my brother died suddenly I found myself struggling to cope.

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