Autism awareness: Hannah Quinton has gone viral with her Instagram project
More than 695,000 people in Britain are believed to be on the autism spectrum – that is more than 1 in 100 people.
If you include their families, that is 2.8million people who deal with autism as part their daily lives and while it is a lifelong condition, the right support can change people’s lives.
But Hannah Quinton, from Weymouth, Dorset, believes changing attitudes to autism is also an important step to go with that support.
And the optician, who models in her spare time, hopes to take her campaign to the next level – with grand plans to take on Kim Kardashian and secure millions of followers online.
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The 25-year-old was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) syndrome two years ago after several years of tests and being misdiagnosed – with one doctor telling her she could not have autism because ”she’s a girl”.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “First of all, it was a major relief to get that diagnosis, to know it wasn’t in my head or I was blowing up the problem.
“But also it was a big frustration knowing it took that long – I’ve lived my whole life not knowing this and it makes me wonder if my life could have been different.
“I could have had the support I needed long ago; I could have been kinder to myself.”
HANNAH QUINTON – JACKIE MOLESWORTH
Hannah wants to prove autistic people are as diverse as anyone else
Once she finally had her diagnosis, she tried to get involved with the online autism community and was shocked to learn of others who had been “ignored and fobbed off” by medical professionals or even friends and family.
And that is how ‘Do I look autistic yet’ started.
The online campaign began as an Instagram account called Aspie Aesthetic, hoping to “normalise” autism in a way that people without any experience of it could understand.
Hannah decided to share photos of herself and others on the spectrum to prove that autistic people are as diverse as anyone else – with body builders, psychologists, artists, singers and business owners all signing up to campaign and using her hashtag.
Angel is just one of many who have used the hashtag
Tracy is one of the account’s thousands of followers
When I told people about my diagnosis and what I was doing I would constantly hear things like ‘but you don’t look autistic’ or ‘you seem so normal.’
Hannah Quinton, 25
She said: “When I told people about my diagnosis and what I was doing I would constantly hear things like ‘but you don’t look autistic’ or ‘you seem so normal.’
“They’re trying to make me feel better and reassuring me – they don’t mean to be offensive but there’s a misconception about autism.
“You can’t tell just by looking at us that we have autism. We come in every shape, every colour, every size. We have different hobbies and we have our own interests.
“People don’t know how to talk to me when I say I have autism but we’re really not any different.”
Jocs is also on the autism spectrum
She now has more than 1,000 followers on Instagram and over 25,000 people have seen her message through Facebook.
And followers and family members have been in contact with Hannah to thanks her, with parents saying she has made their sons and daughters feel so much more comfortable in their own skin because of the campaign.
Hannah told Express.co.uk: “People still do not understand autism. Just this week I saw a post where someone confused autism with asthma.
“We want people to know they can talk to us, if they want to know something they should ask a person with autism.
Hannah Quinton was diagnosed at age 23 after years of being fobbed off
More than 695,000 people in Britain are believed to be on the autism spectrum
“My mission now is just to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully get more people to see my message and join in with the #doilookautisticyet movement.
“It is only through education, that we will destroy ignorance.”
A National Autistic Society study recently found that 34 per cent of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on.
And 70 per cent of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services – with at least one in three suffering from severe mental health difficulties due to lack of support.