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  • Writer's pictureJeannie Tribe

Faces of Autism Ollie

April has traditionally been Autism Awareness month, but we are trying to do more than become aware, we are driven to accept! I have been planning this campaign for months and have had the absolute PRIVILEGE of photographing some of the most AMAZING people! Throughout the month of April we will be featuring them and their stories. I pray that you find love for these INCREDIBLE humans and their passions!

Hi, My name is Ollie and I wasn't diagnosed with ASD until I was 21. It was very much a self-driven process for me, as a lot of little tics I'd noticed over the years lined up with new information I found about how ASD presents. Most of this was from other autistic folks online, spreading awareness about just how wide the range of effects can be. As a trans guy, most of the ways my ASD presents itself are ways that would usually be considered "female presenting", and that's likely why it wasn't noticed by my parents or teachers sooner. It shows up in a lot of different ways for me. I tend to get overwhelmed easily, sounds and smells are often the hardest to deal with. I have a habit of chewing on things when I get anxious or overwhelmed, and as a kid that often got taken out on my fingernails, sweater sleeves, or even my hands and arms. I have a chewy necklace that I usually keep with me now that helps, but COVID has made it difficult to use so I often end up grinding my teeth or chewing my lip or the insides of my cheeks.

I also have stims that come out when I'm excited about something, specifically hand flapping, rocking back and forth, and a few specific vocal sounds. I learned to hide these somewhere around middle school, even when I was alone. It's taken a long time for me to accept the ways I express my excitement, and having an official diagnosis has made that much easier.

I tend to fixate on things very quickly, and I seem to have a sort of rotating stock of interests I cycle through. Generally I just like to Make Stuff, but I tend to cycle between costumes, needlework, music, miniatures, and theater-type prop work. I also have a habit of being very interested in certain video games while also being objectively terrible at playing them.

I am very much still learning how my autism affects me, but overall I'm very content with this part of myself.


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