Our ambassador Laura James joined us for a live Twitter Q&A session recently.

Laura, who is autistic, is the author of Odd Girl Out, an acclaimed memoir which explores issues affecting autistic women and girls, the impact of late diagnosis and being autistic in a neurotypical world.

A fantastic variety of questions were sent in, and Laura was able to answer 28 in just one hour – almost one every two minutes! If you missed the Q&A, don’t worry. Below are all of the 28 questions and answers from the session.

#AskLauraQuestion from @aspergerswoman

@Girl_by_the_Aga #AskLaura how was the diagnosis process for you? Was it scary? Any tips to prepare for it? Thanks x

Answer: I was confident before the assessment that I was autistic so it wasn't scary. It was long though, so make sure you're rested and fed :) LJ

Question from @funkiepiano 

@Girl_by_the_Aga do you wish you'd been diagnosed as a child, and if so, why? #AskLaura

Answer: Yes. With the right support life would've been easier and I would've achieved more in education and understood myself better. LJ

Question from @dontgetthis1 

#AskLaura @Girl_by_the_Aga in your book you touch on autistic happiness being different to NT, can you expand/explain this a bit more?

Answer: People often want us to be social & think we can only be happy if we fit an NT version of it but we should take joy wherever we find it and it that's in special interests or following solitary pursuits then that's fine 2/2 – LJ

Question from @MichaelGM_1788 

@Girl_by_the_Aga After my diagnosis I was left to fend for myself with no support. Did similar happen to you? #AskLaura

Answer: I was very lucky in that I had some specialist support and have also found the NAS and other autistic people a huge help. LJ

Question from @PennyRobaus 

The @Autism #AskLaura twitter chat with @Girl_by_the_Aga about girls, women and #autism starts 9.30 pm AEST. Tag @herautism

Answer: Hi Penny, lovely to see that #AskLaura has reached Australia! :) LJ

Question from @SueWeedon

Please could you tell me what NT stands for ? Thank-you #AskLaura

Answer: Hey Sue, NT stands for Neurotypical :) LJ

Question from @1994_rej

Has it been hard to get a paid job ??

Answer: I'm very lucky in that I freelance or work for myself but it can be really hard for autistic people and so much more needs to be done LJ

Question from @funkiepiano 

@Girl_by_the_Aga has anyone reacted negatively to your coming out, & how have you dealt with it? #AskLaura

Answer: Occasionally, but only online. Mainly it's 'she doesn't look autistic' thing. LJ #AskLaura

Question from @brockleymums

#AskLaura What can we do to broaden great places for late diagnosed women to share thoughts and creative ideas (such as FB group), offline?

Answer: There are so many brilliant Facebook groups and some even have local meet-ups :) LJ #AskLaura

Question from @aspiebettie

Can a autism support organisation effectively meet the diverse needs of children and adults? Plus Parents/carers/professionals?... #AskLaura 

Answer: I believe it can. I think all these people need to be heard & their issues to be looked at in tandem then things will improve for all – LJ

Question from @maymarshmellow8 

Recently diagnosed, really struggling after 27 years moulding myself (but failing!) be NT, to find autistic happiness. Any advice #asklaura?

Answer: Firstly give yourself time. It can be a big shock. Then try to get to know other autistic women - we have an amazing community! :) LJ

Question from @ABA4ALL_UK

#asklaura My son v different from you and has autism plus SLD. I do not think anyone can speak for all autism, it is too diverse. U agree?

Answer: Just as all NT people are different, so are autistic people and I think we need many more autistic voices to be heard - LJ #AskLaura

Question from @Leeds_Demon

If you're not good at anything/don't have a special talent, don't stim & can look people in the eye, are you autistic?

Answer: We're all different. So, yes, someone who doesn't have these traits can still be autistic :) LJ #AskLaura

Question from @Gracie_E_H

What made you want to do what you are doing (career wise) #AskLaura

Answer: I fell into it, but I love it and mainly working from home is seriously autism-friendly :) LJ #AskLaura

Question from @1976baby

@Autism Q: How do you think you will handle being a grandmother someday? #Asklaura

Answer: Well I love being a mother so i'm hoping it will be an enjoyable extension of that :) LJ #AskLaura

Question from @THewitt44

Brilliant! I do have a question for you: What advice would you give to those on the spectrum & struggling in relationships? #AskLaura

Answer: Relationships can be tough regardless of neurotype. I think calmly talking through problems is the best way forward & compromise is key LJ

Question from @DC_Sax_Jones

I have autism, recently diagnosed and was wondering do you have anything at home which is great at calming meltdowns? #AskLaura

Answer: For me it's space, cool quiet rooms and often a long hot bath with nice aromatherapy oil :) LJ #AskLaura

Question from @AnsuzSowilo

What are the best ways for friends or family to help when things get too much? How does one go about providing comfort? #AskLaura

Answer: When the autistic person isn't feeling overwhelmed ask them what would help next time it happens. For me, it's always being given space – LJ

Question from @CopernicusCF

#AskLaura I was diagnosed last year aged 46. how did you explain to friends and family "oh btw I'm now autistic?" I have difficulty in this

Answer: I wrote a newspaper piece which let me say everything without interruption so maybe write bullet points & go through them one by one :) LJ

Question from @invisible_i

#AskLaura do you think there is enough support for autistic adults and if not, what would you like to see offered? @Autism

Answer: No. I think much more could be done. More help with employment and more therapy for anxiety specifically designed for autistic people – LJ

Question from @MsJennybean89

I'm a female, autistic, LGBTQ+ writer who is wants to write about my experiences but no idea if it would get anywhere. Any advice?

Answer: Write, write, write! I think it sounds like you have a great story to tell. Maybe join a writing group, blog, and pitch lots :) LJ #AskLaura

Question from @strboardnacelle

#AskLaura what can be done to help schools develop strategies to bring out the best of pupils with statements

Answer: I think it's all about understanding particularly when it comes to how many autistic children experience the world - LJ #AskLaura

Question
from @creevehope

What is the best way to support girls with autism #AskLaura

Answer: I think we all need to feel valued & that was certainly the case when I was growing up. I wanted people to understand my experiences – LJ

Question from @ColouringOTL

Hi @Autism what educational adaptations/support would have really helped you at school? (had you had your diagnosis then) #AskLaura

Answer: More 1-1, smaller class sizes, more kindness, & being able to eat the lunch I wanted as I got really stressed anticipating school meals – LJ

Question from @Saturday_Only

@Autism #AskLaura How can social media help people more with social engagement and help with relationships?

Answer: For me, it's been great as there's always someone to talk to anytime rather than socialisation feeling forced at a specific time :) LJ

Question from @mwyalchen

Just diagnosed at 42, total life failure, housebound for 20 years, completely isolated for 10, unable to function. Any advice? #asklaura

Answer: The NAS has a great list of resources, advice, and a brilliant helpline which has proven invaluable for me - LJ http://bit.ly/1TjbYjF

Question
from @strboardnacelle

#AskLaura what resources are there available for late diagnosis aspergers people such as myself who only found out 4 years ago

Answer: Informally there are a lot of FB groups but I think maybe it's trickier to access NHS help but don't give up as there is help out there – LJ

You can find Laura on Twitter at @Girl_by_the_Aga

 

You can follow The National Autistic Society at @autism.