Hello 🙂

I’m Sian, an autistic queer woman in my early 30’s.

I work (intermittently) as a freelance travel writer.

I love learning and sharing about autism, whether through reading, researching, blogging or connecting with other autistics.

I’m an aspiring author and hope to dedicate myself to autism advocacy in the years to come.

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SOME IDENTITY MARKERS:

SIAN IS AT. 30s. FEMALE. AUTISTIC. QUEER. INTJ. HSP. SENSORY PROCESSING SENSITIVE. SOMETIMES ANXIOUS, SOMETIMES CALM. SHY. ORDERED. OVER-THINKER. ROUTINE. WRITING. BOOKS. RUNNING. ADVENTURE. TRAVEL. NEWNESS. NATURE. WILDERNESS. PHYSICAL EXERTION. NUTRITION. MEDITATION. MUSIC. USA. MEDITERRANEAN. WALES.

 

UPDATE (Autumn 2019): I WROTE THIS BIO THING (BELOW) A FEW YEARS AGO, SO IT’S A BIT OLD NOW AND NOT SO UP TO DATE. IT’S ALSO RATHER RAMBLY SO SORRY ABOUT THAT. FOR MORE UP TO DATE INFO, I’D SUGGEST CHECKING OUT MY RECENT BLOG POSTS (also very rambly, but at least more in sync with where I am now)

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Find out a bit more about me below, including my background, interests and current projects.

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A bit about my background and what I’ve been up to before now…

I’m  currently in my late twenties and I’ve spent a lot of my life to date in education. I really enjoyed studying and earned a BA and MSc from two UK universities in Geography and French, followed by Development Studies. I loved the intellectual challenge of my courses and also the fact they enabled me to do quite a bit of travelling. During my five years at university I embarked on a few different fieldtrips, dissertation research expeditions and year abroad placements. At the time I found these trips sometimes quite challenging, but they left me with some great experiences overall.

After graduating, I was set on pursuing a career in International Development and I got my first “proper” job as a research assistant in a policy consultancy firm. To put it lightly this didn’t exactly go well for me, for reasons I was only to discover later. I was unable to tolerate the open plan office environment and also felt quite confused and stressed by many aspects of workplace culture and the whole notion of employment in general. I knew I had significant issues, I just didn’t understand exactly what they were or why I was having them.

I left my job after only a few months and took some time trying to figure out my next step. I toyed with a couple of options, including the possibility of doing a PhD which I ended up applying and getting accepted for. In the end I turned down my place and decided to give self-employment a try. Again, I researched and experimented with a few different ideas, before settling on freelance writing in the travel industry. I’ve been working in this area for over a couple of years now and I’ve certainly learnt a lot in the process! Whilst I do enjoy the actual work itself, most of all I relish having plenty of independence and control over my work environment and schedule.

During this time I also spent a lot of time devouring information on various topics, as well as launching a few different writing and creative side projects. I wrote a blog (now discontinued) which covered quite a disparate range of topics, such as personality psychology, adventure travel, nutrition, self-employment in the digital age, work culture, neoliberal capitalism, and more. I immersed myself in various aspects of personal development and lifestyle design, started eating healthy, exercising regularly and practising more self-care. I became interested in everything from atheism (especially Richard Dawkins) to practical philosophy (like The School of Life), reading about epic adventures (such as over on Alistair Humphreys’ blog) to location independence and dreaming about living off-grid in the wild like these people. In hindsight, most of this was in a bid to try to understand and improve myself and think about where I might fit into society*.

It was in the midst of all this reading that by complete chance I came across something that would change my life. I’d become very interested in introversion (after reading Susan Cain’s book) and in Elain Aron’s work on HSPs – two concepts which, combined, I thought explained some of the differences I’ve felt and difficulties I’ve experienced. But I still had some niggling thoughts that these ideas didn’t quite go far enough in explaining myself to myself. Up to half the population have introverted personalities, whilst 1 in 5 people are highly sensitive, and I definitely felt in a smaller minority than between 20-50% of the population! But then a blog post I was reading mentioned Asperger’s Syndrome and provided a link to the Autism Quotient (AQ). At first, I didn’t think too much of it. It played on my mind for a while and gradually over the course of a few months I started to take it more seriously and eventually launched into an intense bout of research. The more I learned, the more convinced I became that this might apply to me, especially after I came across information on the female presentation of autism. You can learn more about my autism discovery and diagnosis process over on the autism blog. To cut to the chase, I ended up receiving a diagnosis on the NHS in July 2016. It’s been pretty transformative so far, even if only mainly in a psychological sense in terms of how I think about myself. I’ve developed a very strong interest in autism since then and I’m sure there will be many important, long-lasting and hopefully positive effects that will come from having (finally) discovered my autistic identity!

*I still feel very much attached to many of my previous interests, but because of the nature of the autistic brain, when something new and big emerges in my life (like autism has done for me) it tends to creep in and before you know it it’s taken over pretty much everything else. So I’m embracing it and following my instinct to focus 100% on this one thing (as if I have a choice!) Because discovering I’m autistic has been so huge and I feel I’ve now found my “place”, I’m optimistic this interest will stick with me for life. I find it can be quite disorienting and inconvenient to find myself continually jumping from one thing to the next, especially as it usually happens before I feel I’ve achieved any sense of much-needed closure. Of course, there are many benefits to having multiple and diverse interests, it just doesn’t seem to fit with me that well, at least not at this point in my life. This is why my new blog is focused solely on autism.

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Currently I am…

  • Working as a freelance travel writer (head over to my services page if you’re interested in finding out more).  Update: currently on hiatus

  • Learning everything I can about autism through reading, researching, writing, sharing and connecting with the autistic community. At the moment most of my energy is going into writing a book about autism (more on this soon hopefully). I occasionally write blog posts and like to spend time on Autistic Twitter whenever I get the chance.

  • Working on my photography and video skills. You can check out my Flickr here. I’ve just started the Document Your Life project. And I’m just about to get into doing talking videos on autism over on my YouTube channel. 

  • Striving to reach my best physically and mentally through healthy eating, exercise, meditation, sensory diets and general self-care.

  • Considering future plans possibly involving moving to Europe and/or the US and trying to do a lot more travel.

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Interests and hobbies

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interests

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Likes and dislikes

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Some things I like

  • Natural wilderness
  • Healthy home-cooked food
  • The sun – I’m more affected by its absence than most
  • Cats, and most animals for that matter
  • Landscape and travel photography
  • Neurodiversity
  • Independence (in terms of time, location, thoughts)
  • Airports and flying (especially from the window seat)
  • Atheism
  • Improving stuff
  • A sense of perspective
  • Beautifully designed websites
  • Adventure sports, especially mountain biking
  • Alone time
  • Islands, beaches, ocean, waves
  • Eating and cooking outdoors
  • Seasonal changes
  • Heat waves
  • Pinterest
  • Long train journeys
  • Zoning out
  • Autumn
  • Herbal tea
  • Hiking
  • Road trips
  • Meaningful conversations
  • Music (mainly deep house, chill-out, acoustic, indie…)
  • Idealism
  • Simplifying complex things
  • Deep pressure
  • Looking at old photos
  • Mountain views
  • Tiny houses
  • Comfy clothes
  • The truth (if it exists)
  • Sparkly lights
  • Organisation and routine
  • Writing
  • Being frugal
  • Hyper-focus
  • Lists…

And a few I don’t…

  • Neoliberal capitalism. I like David Harvey’s views on this.
  • TV, especially the news. Here’s a great talk by “pop” philosopher Alain de Boton on how it could be changed.
  • Work culture and the modern workplace, especially open-plan offices.
  • Fashion and make-up
  • The state of our food industry and culture
  • Thinking about the truly appalling food I ate everyday as a kid for school dinners D:
  • Judgmental people/environments
  • Buying stuff that isn’t needed
  • Private schools (and other instances of money perpetuating privilege)
  • Caffeine (I’m extremely sensitive to it)
  • Horror films
  • Alarm clocks
  • Smoking
  • Public speaking
  • Noise and too much commotion
  • People talking loudly in enclosed public places (especially bookshops)
  • The state of mainstream politics
  • Ableism
  • Traffic
  • Spiders 
  • Attention-switching and transitions
  • Irrationality
  • The phone
  • There are plenty more, but I think that will do for now 😉

Find me on social media

Sian Atkins (@AutSense) on Twitter

Facebook

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Any thoughts, questions or suggestions?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch here. I look forward to hearing from you!