Hello there! My name is Cerys. Cerys The Chameleon.
Many people believe that chameleons change colour to disguise themselves from predators. Whilst there is truth to this theory, scientists also believe that chameleons change their colours to reflect their moods. By doing this they are sending social signals to other species. Similarly, being autistic I have learnt to ‘change my colours’ depending on the situation I am in, to send the social signals that are expected in that present moment. I learnt to do this from a very young age and this is what is commonly known as masking.
I masked most of my way through childhood and I didn’t really understand why I was relating to the world differently. For a long time, no one else understood why I was relating to the world differently either. Therefore, I found education really difficult and I didn’t complete school. At 16 I finally received my diagnosis. I found out that I’m not flawed, I’m just autistic. There’s an explanation I thought and it was a huge sense of relief. It was a long fight to get that diagnosis, and even after that I have still had my struggles trying to navigate the world the way society expects. The support systems were simply not there and it did lead to several years of withdrawal, isolation and not leaving the house due to severe anxiety.
When I had almost given up hope I discovered the wonderful charity AP Cymru. I began volunteering in their Charity Shop when it first opened in June 2019. The Charity Shop has enabled me to gain skills in all areas such as interpersonal skills, customer service, money management and stock intake. Not only has the Charity Shop enabled me to gain valuable life skill, it has also helped me to combat the isolation I had been experiencing during my adolescence.
My mission is to promote awareness and understanding for Autistic Women and Girls who may present differently, the chameleons, the masters of masking. Women and Girls are often missed and need support. I want to help build the confidence of Autistic Adults and combat the loneliness we may face due to the nature of our condition. I want to mentor and support others to celebrate what makes them unique and embrace their colours. I also want to help parents, educators and professionals gain an insight into our world.
I will be posting regular updates to this blog discussing Autism specific topics and promoting projects within AP Cymru.
For years like a chameleon I disguised myself into my surroundings, to go undetected and to merely survive. Now it is time for my colours to shine brightly and boldly, to share my experiences and to help others.