For Children’s Mental Health Week 2022, we spoke to Caitlin, 21, who was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when she was 11.

Caitlin, who is studying Film at university, got in touch with us as she wanted to share her personal experience of life being on the autism spectrum, and how she has embraced what she refers to as her "superpower" as she pursues her ambition to be a film director. 

Her inspirational journey is a reminder of the importance of championing our positive traits and striving to achieve our goals despite the obstacles we may face.

A huge thank you to Caitlin for getting in touch and sharing her story with us. 

“Being on the spectrum can be tough. But it can also be the greatest gift and a superpower that adds to a list of traits that make you into who you are. Know your worth. You never know what is possible and... you might really surprise yourself.” Caitlin

What is being on the autism spectrum like for you?

Caitlin: "Having Asperger’s syndrome is something that makes me unique. It has brought many challenges with regards to sensory issues such as particular noises, but I have found ways to cope with my condition that help me in my everyday life, such as earplugs.

I have noticed certain aspects of my Asperger’s have impacted me in such a positive way. I have a big passion for the ‘Walking Dead’ and looking into every detail of the show. I fully believe my Asperger’s Syndrome helps with having strong attention to detail. This transfers over to the way I work; I am very organised and always make sure I get as many details in my work as possible, covering all bases.

I think the worst thing about being on the spectrum can be the feeling of not being accepted, but now I realise that accepting yourself above anything else is most powerful thing you can do to feel truly comfortable. I have used the time since my diagnosis to push myself out of my comfort zone as I like to find solutions to make me feel more comfortable. I accept that having Asperger’s Syndrome is how I am made and makes me who I am today.

I believe my condition only makes me stronger and more capable of things."

What are your strengths and future goals? 

Caitlin: "Hmmm, my strengths lie in how I make my film projects… I adore being creative and telling stories, especially comedies haha! I love to make people laugh and keep things light. I am a strong planner so when things don’t go to plan, I have learned to adapt to changing my routine. Being able to adapt more easily is a strength I have developed as a result of my challenges.

My future goal is to hopefully one day become a film director. I am studying Film at University and have now nearly graduated so feel really proud to have learned valuable skills to take into my work and general life. At the time of my diagnosis, I thought being on the spectrum would hold me back, but with perseverance and support my condition has become an advantage.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had numerous setbacks but it has all added up to positive things. I hope in the future I can continue to grow and achieve my ultimate goal of being a film director!"

What advice do you have for others who are experiencing the same journey? 

Caitlin: "It can be really difficult at times as you can easily feel like you don’t fit in, but at the of the day, we are all unique. You may have moments where you think that you will be held back and I think at times my family had the same worries. If you can persevere past these hard moments and never give up you will find happiness within yourself!

It’s important to connect with the people around you. You are not alone, there are always people who want to help in some way. Having a friendly face to listen and guide you, even if they are just a family member or friend, will help build your confidence greatly which will make you feel better all round.

I know being on the spectrum can be tough. But it can also be the greatest gift and a superpower you have that adds to a list of traits that make you into who you are. Know your worth. You never know what is possible and if you find yourself in a similar situation to me, you might really surprise yourself!"

What three things would you like to say to the young people Aspens supports?

Caitlin: "You are unique. No one is you and that is your power. Embrace it.

You are not alone – there are many facing similar situations so there is always a community of people who can identify with you from their own life experiences to help in the best way possible.

Do whatever you can to make you goals more reachable. Taking the smallest of steps is something to be proud about!"

Further information and support

For further information on Aspens Children’s Services contact: [email protected] 

For further information on Family and Specialist Support services contact: [email protected]