It’s my privilege to share Justine’s post on the intersectionality of being blind and autistic. Justine is a much valued member of The Gentle Autistic community and is an Admin for our LGBTQIA+ Facebook group.

I’m 52, visually impaired and autistic. In fact, I’m totally blind and have been from birth, but I was only diagnosed autistic at the age of 49!

Being visually impaired is something I’ve always had to adapt to, yet I knew there was something different about me that made me not fit into the norm, whatever that was. I’ve always hated loud noises, crowded places, sudden movements and if I’ve been subjected to any of these elements for a longer period than normal, I have become agitated and disjointed. I have also never made eye contact, though I guess that can be understood from someone with little or no sight. I’ve also always had a tendency to stim, including flapping and rocking, but as a child, my family got me out of that “habit” as they called it.

In my twenties, I began volunteering with an autism charity and the penny finally dropped! I had something in common with these people, as although most of them could see, they hated loud noises, sudden movements, crowded places etc. They often didn’t make eye contact and also stimmed!

I was eventually diagnosed at the age of 49, and although it does not change anything, it’s a relief to know that I’m not alone. I used to mask before my diagnosis, and if I caught myself stimming for instance, I would stop, but now, I refuse to do this.
In essence, being blind and autistic is no different from having sight and being autistic, other than I probably have different interests that are non-visual, for example, a love of mermaids, music, theatre, reality TV to name a few.
I hope this has been of some insight to at least some of you.
Justine