Growing up as a Neurodivergent woman in a world that struggles to understand us

by Silvia Christoforou

From a very young age, I knew the way my brain worked was different from the other girls my age and because of that, I struggled to fit in. My parents did not hide from me my numerous divergent conditions. They were both honest and open to me about the Speech and Language and Occupational therapists I would see. This I am grateful for as this made me feel less confused about who I am and because of this, I developed a strong need to help others like me. If you have met me or know me you are probably surprised to hear I have had to see numerous therapists. I mean I can talk, right? However, my conditions are not to do with being unable to, but rather I found it difficult to express and articulate my thoughts.

I was a late talker and walker, and for a long time, the only word I could say was yellow. Look, yellow is a lovely colour and deserves the right! Soon I started primary school and I struggled to connect with the other girls. I did not know how to play games with them or do the games that they wanted. I much rather would have them play my imaginative games and because of this, I was excluded. I was not one to suck up to the popular girl or play along and my language was not yet as sophisticated as the other girls. This then resulted in the other girls not wanting me to play games. I drifted more toward boys but even then, it was a struggle to fit in.

Health professionals and teachers would describe me as bright and funny but would also say that I am too impulsive and sensitive. Soon, because of the emotional bullying, I was taken out of school and home-schooled for a year. There, I discovered feminism and began to conduct my studies on women in history, developing a strong sense of justice.

Like a rabbit pushed under a fox’s nose, I was put back in secondary school. Soon I met more girls my age and discussions about boys came up a lot. Lots of girls were obsessed with One Direction and Harry Styles. What is it about Harry Styles honestly? I could not understand this obsession and I did not feel comfortable describing myself as exclusively attracted to men or exclusively attracted to women. Those binary sexualities did not feel right to me. There are so many options and I could not understand how straight women can be so sure that they are exclusively attracted to men.

Now I am at university, and I feel like I understand more about my sexuality, my clothing style, and just myself as a person. I am now somehow the woman that knows everyone and is considered cool. However, because of this, I began to experience other people finding me attractive. This is still a weird concept to me, and I still do not understand flirting. What is that? Ultimately, I feel like I understand more about my womanhood and where my positions align in the world. I can honestly say that I am a proud Feminist and Socialist thanks to not just my experience of womanhood, but to individual public figures like Owen Jones, Munroe Bergdorf, and Ash Sarkar.

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