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Women and autism: ‘I was 50 when I realised I was autistic’

Although autism is predominantly diagnosed in childhood, there are an increasing number of women, like journalist Eleanor Flegg, learning that they are autistic. She talks to the experts about why this is the case, and to other women who were diagnosed as adults

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Journalist Eleanor Flegg from Dublin

Journalist Eleanor Flegg from Dublin

Retired teacher and autism campaigner Elaine McGoldrick

Retired teacher and autism campaigner Elaine McGoldrick

Visual support graphic designer Amanda McGuinness. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Visual support graphic designer Amanda McGuinness. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Fiona Ferris is the deputy CEO of the Irish autism charity, AsIAm

Fiona Ferris is the deputy CEO of the Irish autism charity, AsIAm

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Journalist Eleanor Flegg from Dublin

I was 50 when I realised that I was autistic. All the indicators were there; it just took a while for the penny to drop. Like many autistic women, I’m so adept at masking my difference that I don’t even know I’m doing it.

In casual conversation, for example, it can take time for me to work out what to say. Sometimes this results in uncomfortable silences, so I go into conversation battle-armed with scripted comments and attention-diverting techniques. In my mind, each conversation is a like a video game. You gain points for keeping the chat going and lose points for weirding people out.


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