A MUM-of-three has spoken about what it's like to be diagnosed with autism in her late 30s. 

Annette Barrett, from Eastleigh, went to a specialist school after her parents noticed that she was struggling at her mainstream school and amongst her peers.

But it was not until decades later she was diagnosed with autism.

The 39-year-old told the Daily Echo: "I struggled really badly at school and I had terrible GCSE results. 

"I was often mocked and bullied, and people thought I was weird." 

Daily Echo:

After specialising in animal care, Annette applied for part-time jobs, both of which didn't work out. 

Recalling her 20s, she said: "At a meeting with one of my teachers, she sat me down and said that I wouldn't make it as a veterinary nurse. 

"It's fair to say she was completely correct, but I think those were harsh words to say to someone who struggled with learning difficulties."

Feeling overlooked and lost, she was also struggling to hold down a job.

She added: "I felt I was treated somewhat unfairly at two workplaces. Life had been a real struggle throughout my school and employment years." 

Since then, Annette has come a long way. She is a full-time mum to three kids and lives with her partner in Bishopstoke, Eastleigh. 

Daily Echo:

The couple's 16-year-old son has been diagnosed with autism, and they are currently awaiting an assessment for their 13-year-old daughter. 

While waiting for her daughter's assessment, an unexpected realisation crept into her mind. Annette said: "The real signs that I may be autistic came to light through experiencing their autism.

"Especially with my daughter; a lot of her behaviour I could relate to, which made me think 'could I be autistic too?' 

"Even after all these years of struggles, I never really thought I was on the spectrum until recently." Daily Echo:

The Eastleigh mum was finally diagnosed with autism this year and she feels a sense of relief has washed over her. 

She said: "I felt emotional and relieved that there was finally a reason for my struggles, my lack of understanding, my thought processing. 

"It has answered a lot of questions."

While her autism journey wasn't easy, she is urging other adults who share a similar experience as her to speak out and embrace their diagnosis. 

"Having autism is nothing to be ashamed of; it's a gift.

"There is now more support, more understanding and acceptance.

"You are not alone."

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