This International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting inspirational autistic women. Carol is completing her ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) certificate in horticulture at one of the National Autistic Society support services. Carol tells us more about how gardening at our Day Centre allowed her to accept her differences…

I was diagnosed as autistic in 2016, when I was 37. I was in hospital at the time and the treatment I was receiving wasn’t working. I can get quite obsessive about things, I don’t really like change very much, I don’t like loud noise and I’m not very good at socialising. Then I had an autism assessment. I always felt like I didn’t fit in so after the diagnosis I felt a lot better. 

I started going to the Manchester Day Centre to be more sociable. I get one-to-one support and I’ve just started my ASDAN educational award in horticulture, a qualification that will help me work in a garden centre when I finish the course. I picked horticulture because I love walking around garden centres and being outside. We’ve just started clearing out the plot and weeding. I’m going to plant pansies because they’re my grandma’s favourite plant.

At home, I’ve got a huge collection of keyrings, about 200. I go to different places and buy them. My support worker Karen suggested that I should start making my own keyrings to sell at the Café Autisan gift shop. I’ve really enjoyed all the support I’ve received at the centre because it’s allowed me to be more sociable, go where I like on my days out and accept my differences. I wouldn’t be without it now.

Check out our free module on autism in women and girls.

Women and girls