Stephanie Hughes stated that she was struggling in social situations and would end up being unable speak or swallow at Christmas events. However, she now understands why
A mother of four who used to hate Christmas so much she couldn’t speak or swallow, has discovered the reason after being diagnosed with autism.
Stephanie Hughes, 36, stated that she reached “burnout” last year after realising what was wrong. Liverpool Echo reported.
She shared how she’d experienced an “autistic crisis.”” after masking for years without knowing.
She said: “I just sat there thinking, “Oh my God, how did I forget?”
“I have struggled all of my life and it just happened. I can remember walking around the playground as a child. I was a lonely child who didn’t have many friends. It was hard for me to make friends, and I never wanted to go outside.
“I would be jealous of other girls who would be best friends and I would get teased quite a bit. I even had family members comment that I was ‘a bit strange’.”
Stephanie, who resides in Ellesmere Port stated that she was always in and out jobs and would suffer breakdowns at work if she had the opportunity to speak with people.
She said: “I would often drive into work and then just turn around and go home.”
Stephanie was relieved to have resigned from her position as a clerical assistant in a hospital during the pandemic.
She explained that she had just experienced an autistic burnout.
“I lost weight, I couldn’t speak or swallow, I struggled to walk, and they were just physical manifestations of me masking for my whole life.
“It all worked out. I had to read four menus before I went out. I also hate being touched or hugged. My husband Liam and our children were not impressed.”
Stephanie, mum to Josh, 17, Maisy, 14, Florance, five, and Nancy, four, was given her formal diagnosis in September last year.
Her children Maisy and Florance have also been diagnosed with autism which helped her realise she had the same condition.
She said: “After we noticed that Maisy would eat the same thing every day, we diagnosed her six years ago. She is still very difficult to eat.
“She didn’t really watch telly, and if she did it would be the same thing over and over.
“She was a chewer and would eat anything. If someone spoke to her, she would scream.
“But through her diagnoses, I was able to understand what it is she needed. Every child with autism is different but with help, you can help them cope.
“I now know Maisy requires a lot space. She needs time to recharge. Florance and Maisy don’t like hugging so I have to just let them be. This can be difficult for their family members to grasp.
Stephanie stated that despite the difficulties, there are positives.
She said: “People always say to me, ‘I am going to ask you because you will tell me the truth’.
“My sister will always ask me whether her hair is straight or if her clothes are okay. The kids are just as special, and they are exactly the same.”
Stephanie said she can now look back on things and laugh about them, she said: “Christmas was a time I used to hate, mainly because it is such a huge transition.
“And I would hate getting gifts because I just can not hide my emotions and if it was something I didn’t like, I couldn’t lie about it.
“It caused some awkward moments, and I felt ungrateful. Now it’s funny to reflect on.
“But I would love the run up to Christmas, I would write out and plan everything I was going to watch on telly.
“I still use notebooks, I keep a notebook for every thing and take them everywhere.
“And I think it has really helped with the girls, because I am so organised, they know exactly what is happening and when and what to expect.”
She stated that there are some things she struggles to deal with as an autistic parent and autistic person.
She said: “I hate it when people say ‘you’re not that autistic’, because how would they know, a lot of it happens beneath the surface.
“I can mentally drain myself for days by doing a small thing each day.
“I also take issue with people who say ‘everyone is on the spectrum’, because it implies they know what it is like to be autistic.”
Stephanie has written a children’s book, “Little Me-My First Day of School”, about a girl who has autism.
She also added: “A lot of these types of books are great but have not actually been written by someone with autism.
“This was written from her perspective. It’s about how she felt. I believe a lot of children should see it.