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The Political is Personal: Activism While Autistic and Scarred from Abuse

I am a 21-year-old feminist, Youth Rights, environmentalist and anti-authoritarian (I call it “anti-paternalism”) activist from Australia. I aim to be a hero of Youth Rights, to bring the cause into the mainstream. I also suffer from high-functioning autism. I can be socially awkward and extremely emotional, and I obsess about things. My obsession is social politics, the focus of activism, which I simply cannot stop thinking about. I tend to worry constantly about issues, over and over again, and can have difficulty letting go. My problems are very much compounded by the emotional abuse I experienced from my Prep (Kindergarten for you Americans) and Grade 1 teacher, Mrs Thorpe.

Mrs Thorpe seemed nice on the surface. According to my parents, she was always “nice as pie” to them. She looked like June Cleaver, was devoutly religious, friends with my lovely preschool teacher Mrs James, and sweet to everyone except her victims. My autism was as yet undiagnosed, but was still there. Mrs Thorpe made us do writing every morning. When we wrote letters wrong, she would criticise and ridicule our writing in front of the whole class. I remember her cheerful voice, “Alexandra writes back-to-front letters, Thomas writes back-to-front words!” My grandmother didn’t understand why I was so upset and reluctant to show her my writing.

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