Who is Liz Vande Putte?
I was diagnosed at 35 and like many late-diagnosed autistic people, have struggled to get on with the world despite putting in a lot of effort. Decades of masking, camouflaging, and attempting to deal with mental health problems with techniques designed for people with a different neurology have left me feeling lost and with a pretty rubbish sense of who I am.
After a varied career with lots of roles in various industries physical and mental health have forced me to reconsider and reconfigure my life. I am an Associate Trainer for The Brain Charity, delivering neurodiversity training in workplaces (in person and online). I contribute to Autistic Radio Spectrum Voices Conversations on Sunday nights, 6 – 7.30pm UK time, and I’m involved in research projects and other projects to communicate the autistic experience to professionals. I am also passionate about the provision of mental health services which work for autistic people which is an area I hope to explore in the future. I write about autism (and other things) on Quora and am on the National Autistic Council’s Autism insight panel.
I use the term “actually autistic” because society still perceives autism to be something that only applies to young boys. I am often met with incredulity when I disclose my diagnosis. The vast majority of the autistic community accepts self-diagnosis as valid because most of us understand that a diagnosis isn’t accessible to everyone (for reasons such as cost, provision or service, backlash and problems arising from having such a diagnosis made formally, family dynamics and more). I am only formally diagnosed because I could afford to pay for a private diagnosis with a professional specialising in diagnosing autistic women and girls. If my situation was different, I wouldn’t be any less autistic. I support self-diagnosis, and I do not agree with gatekeeping the community and excluding those who, for whatever reason, do not have a formal diagnosis. I am happy to answer questions and signpost to online assessments and places that can give a formal diagnosis if that is something you are seeking.