Best selling author Stefanie Preissner has revealed to Newstalk that she is autistic.
Speaking on The Anton Savage Show, the 34 year old said that while she always felt a little bit different, it was only recently that she received a diagnosis:
“I always felt that I was a little bit ‘something’, like a bit too ‘something’, like a little bit too sensitive, a little bit too controlling, a little bit too anxious. Always just a little bit too off.”
And while she felt she was different as early as secondary school, she feels that the representation of autism in popular culture left her ill-informed about the diversity of people who have the condition.
“Why am I different and why can I not relate to the impulses of other people?... Actually it was that I was autistic but I never thought of that because my version of autism - and this is a huge barrier to diagnosis - my version of autism was based on Rain Man or men who are unemotional and can’t make eye contact or a seven year old boy who rocks back and forth and can’t respond to his mother.”
After her first book, Why Can’t Everything Just Stay the Same? came out, a doctor read it and asked whether she would consider getting herself assessed for autism. At first she shrugged off the remark but the stresses of the pandemic made her reconsider:
“I just became fixated with the data… I wasn’t worried about catching COVID, I was very worried about people not sticking to the rules.”
She mentioned to her therapist how upset this was making her and he too suggested that she get assessed. The process was lengthy but the diagnosis came back positive.
“Part of it is a relief,” Stefanie said. “Then there’s sort of a big fear as well. It was a shock but it wasn’t at all a surprise and that’s been my experience of sharing the news with other people who know me.”
The diagnosis has allowed her to better understand things about herself.
“I’d be on the Late Late Show for something and the next day, I wouldn’t be able to talk. And people would say to me, ‘Oh yeah, I’m always exhausted after a late night.’
“No, no. This isn’t exhaustion. I can get up, I can walk around, I can go for lunch. But I can’t speak. I can speak in monosyllables ‘Yes, no.’ But to try and form a sentence is too much and now I know that that’s called shut down. And it’s very, very normal and typical for autistic people.”
“There’s not something wrong with me. I’m autistic and the only reason I seem like there is something less than is because I am being measured by a neurotypical metric that I can’t reach.”
Main image: Stefanie Preissner