It’s World Autism Awareness Day 2023!


World Autism Awareness Day – also known as World Autism Day – raises awareness of the characteristics of people with autism in the hopes of promoting kindness and acceptance.

Having only received a diagnosis when she became an adult, Karen Whitehead, Managing Director of KEW, wanted to take this opportunity to share her autism experience – from diagnosis to day-to-day living.


What prompted you to seek a diagnosis?

“I first became aware I was autistic three years before seeking an official diagnosis.

“My son had been diagnosed and my partner and I had been on a course called ‘The Early Birds’ where it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t just my son who was autistic so I decided I ought to go for an assessment. 

“My son also said he wanted me to as he wanted to know where it had come from. I think it made him feel better to know it wasn’t just him.  Before I even received the results of the assessment, my daughter was also diagnosed with autism.”


How did you feel once you received an autism diagnosis?

“As soon as the results from my assessment came back diagnosing me as autistic, it immediately took a weight off my shoulders. This diagnosis helped me understand the reasons why I behave a certain way and encouraged me to fully accept myself the way I am. It also encouraged me to develop coping mechanisms to help me with my day-to-day life.

“After I received a diagnosis, I was able to let people close to me – both at work and in my personal life –  know which I believe helped them understand me, and what I felt comfortable with which in turn strengthened my relationships with them. I’m definitely a lot happier now I understand myself more.”


How does your diagnosis affect your working life?

“A common trait found in those with autism is a sensitivity to things like light and sound, meaning working in an office can often cause an individual with autism to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed. 

“Since I received my diagnosis and became more aware of my own behaviours, I have made every effort to ensure the working environment at KEW is comfortable for every team member as far as possible.

“I have also made sure the team is aware of my diagnosis so they understand my behaviours and, as I often prefer to work alone, they know I’m not being dismissive or rude – it’s just my personal preference. Also, as I am not the only autistic team member at KEW Accountants, it means other autistic team members feel more comfortable being open which enables me to ensure I create an environment which is comfortable for them to work in.”


Would you recommend others seek a diagnosis if they are experiencing similar symptoms?

“Absolutely! Adults with undiagnosed autism frequently mask their true selves as a way to ‘fit in’ but it’s so important for them to acknowledge and accept their differences. One size certainly doesn’t fit all and I’m so passionate that people understand that.”


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