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‘Antisemitism and misogyny delayed my autism diagnosis’

Comedy writer Sara Gibbs last night opened up about how “internalised antisemitism and misogyny” delayed her autism diagnosis until well into adulthood.

Addressing over 100 Limmud attendees, the autthor spoke candidly about autism remaining “one of the most stigmatised and misunderstood identities” but insisted a diagnosis can aid the road to self-acceptance.

“My Israeli grandmother was considered highly neurotic,” she explained. “Due to the internalised antisemitism and misogyny that people have, it was assumed I was just like my grandmother- another neurotic Jewish person.

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“Yet I came from a whole family of highly strung people – even my dad was highly strung! On top of that autistic people are often very blunt and direct. Who else is blunt and direct? Well, I’m half Israeli!

“In British society I was considered rude and brash. In Israeli society I’m considered shy, timid and English. My dad was Israeli so people just assumed I took after him.”

Since receiving her diagnosis aged 30, Gibbs has become a leading autism advocate. Earlier this year she published her memoir, ‘Drama Queen – One Autistic Woman and a Life of Unhelpful Labels’. “It’s really important to understand the full picture of what autism can look like. Things you might write off as cultural, when combined with other factors, could point towards something very different,” Gibbs explained.

“There’s a lot of anxiety in the Jewish collective consciousness – who can blame us! But it can mean it’s very hard to unpick what is autistic and what is just being Jewish.” Every autistic person is also different: “Someone might be non-speaking verbally but really adept at looking after themselves and not need support to live independently. Whereas someone like me, the only things I can do is speak and write – that’s pretty much it! My husband does literally everything else for me – he even chases my invoices.”

Gibbs’ comedy writing credits include Have I Got News For You, Dead Ringers and The Mash Report. The 33-year-old concluded her Limmud session by encouraging others to seek an autism diagnosis: “An explanation goes such a long way towards self-acceptance and receiving help from others when you need it. For me it’s been life changing! “It’s not always easy to accept that I am different but the more I practice at self-acceptance, the easier it gets.”

Source: Jewish News

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