A HAMPSHIRE resident has found success as a self-employed proofreader after they received a late autism diagnosis.

H Noss, who lives near Winchester, was diagnosed as autistic 10 years ago when they were 18. While they knew about autism, this was not in any detail, so they ended up experiencing imposter syndrome.

They said: “Most of what I knew was the then-stereotypical view of autism. I didn't even consider the possibility that I might be autistic because I didn't fit into this preconceived idea of what an autistic person looks and behaves like.

Hampshire Chronicle: H NossH Noss (Image: Autism Hampshire)

“Even after I was diagnosed, I didn't feel like I was actually autistic. I suffered a lot with imposter syndrome because my experiences were so different to what other people described when talking about autism.

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“It took me a few years to start to understand what the autism spectrum was, and then I began to understand my place on that spectrum.”

Due to over-stimulation, H often found it difficult to make strong in-person connections. However, as the online world has grown, they have found it easier to connect with other people, eventually setting up their own online proofreading business.

They continued: “I've always had a strong interest in writing, and sometime after my diagnosis I joined a writing critique group. With their encouragement, I started looking into editing, which led me to look into proofreading.

“That led me to the Prince's Trust, whose online Enterprise programme seemed to be just what I was looking for. It was a supported programme from the comfort of my own home, with support from a business mentor to help me set up as a sole trader.

“The support I got from my mentor was invaluable. I couldn't have done it without her, and after a year I launched my business and graduated from the programme.

“For anyone else considering starting your own business, finding support is essential. There are a lot of options now, especially online, and many of them are free programmes like the Prince's Trust. Having someone to talk to, to guide you, and to help you makes a massive difference.

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“I've also found that working on my own has been an amazing experience. I have complete flexibility over my work, my working hours, and more. It's been isolating at times, so I recommend finding a wider support network too, whether that's through networking, business support groups, or increasing social opportunities elsewhere.”

H has also found a drive with other passions in their life including campaigning for equality and celebrating neurodiversity.

Shortly after H started volunteering for Autism Hampshire as a proofreader, they were invited to join the Expert by Experience forum to feedback on the charity's projects. Since then H has also helped to promote the Neurodiversity Celebration Week initiative which aims to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.

“It's okay to do things differently to how you're expected to. As long as you're not harming yourself or other people, you can be free to carve your own path.

“Explore what's available to you. That could be looking at different kinds of support (fidget tools, reasonable adjustments) or just being happy with how you do things.”