People shouldn't fear an autism diagnosis as it can help neurodivergent people feel better understood and accepted.
That is according to Chloé Hayden, an actor, disability rights activist, and author of Different, Not Less.
The National Autism Conference takes place today in Malahide and Ms Hayden will speak on her experience of being neurodivergent in a world built for neurotypical people.
The Irish-Australian influencer told The Anton Savage Show that growing up not knowing why she was different only disadvantaged her.
Her father is Irish and moved from Rathfarnham to Melbourne before she was born.
"I grew up my entire life thinking that I landed on an alien planet, that I wasn't supposed to be here", she said.
"Now I'm like, 'this label is a thing and there are millions of people like me'."
While she was formally diagnosed as autistic when she was 13-years-old, Ms Hayden always knew she was different "not just to the other kids, but what society expected me to be".
The diagnosis was a positive step for her, allowing her to identify with others who had the same label.
"The thing with autism, a lot of parents especially are like, 'oh, I don't want to tell my kid that they're autistic', and there's labels and there's stigmas", she explained.
"Human beings label things. It's what we do to make our little pea brains make sense of the world."
"Before I got my autism label, my label was 'weird', 'strange', 'different', 'she doesn't fit in', 'she doesn't belong'."
"Changing all of these man-made labels to a label that actually makes sense, and actually describes what my mind is then puts the power in my hands."
Thank you @AntonSavageShow for having me this morning, and for showcasing how easy it is to learn, unlearn and accomodate 💛
— 🌻 c h l o é h a y d e n 🌻 (@chloeshayden) February 4, 2023
Ms Hayden said that "pretty much every aspect" of life made her feel "different".
"I'm very convinced that the only reason that autistic people are considered the weird ones is because there's less of us", she said.
"Neurotypicals are utterly bizarre creatures."
Socialising was a major challenge, as she found eye contact and small talk difficult.
She couldn't understand why other children made friends so easily.
Autistic people also often struggle with sensory issues.
"Other kids could sit in a classroom and not hear the lights, which were screaming, and not be distracted by everything and not feel the chair underneath them and the clothes on their body", she explained.
Ms Hayden now has her own online store with autism-friendly designs such as tag-free clothing that has small, comfortable seams.
Listen back to the full conversation here.