This post doesn’t contain advice and isn’t much to do with Autism. It is an appreciation post for some wonderful human beings which I am blessed to have in my life.

Let’s start from the beginning. On my first day at nursery I met Lauren. Since then we have grown-up together sharing all our obsessions from Doctor Who to High School Musical. We went to different primary schools and were in separate years at secondary school yet we have always managed to remain close. She is what I would call my best friend. We can go months without seeing one another but when we are reunited it’s like we are back in nursery, we never have to pretend to be anyone else with each other. Lauren is one of the most kind-hearted people I know. I told her about my Autism diagnosis via text as I was uncomfortable having the conversation in person. She responded saying thank you for telling me and then that was it, we have never spoken about it since. Knowing Lauren like I do, I believe this is because for her it’s not an important factor, she always knew I was a little odd and have my quirks the fact that the reason for those quirks now has a name doesn’t matter to her. To Lauren, I am just Billie and always will be. I don’t feel the need to speak to her about it as she accepts me for who I am, I would never need to use my Autism as an explanation for my actions when I am with her. Lauren, as I know you are reading this, you are a star of a friend and I cherish you, our memories and our friendship. Wow, that got emotional – let’s never bring this up and continue calling each other ‘spoons’ and talking all things nerdy instead?

Next, comes my sisterly figure – my little Joanna. Things started off rough between us, we met in secondary school and for reasons which she still cannot provide me with, (although I think it may have something to do with me being the bigger McFly fan?) Joanna hated me. I’m not sure how it evolved from hatred but somehow we became friends. I do think of Joanna like a sister, we message constantly and if anything happens in my life she is one of the first people I tell. Jo and I just ‘get’ one another, she is one of my soulmates. We are so similar and yet so different. We can sit in silence with one another and it would be comfortable – I don’t find this easy to do with many people. Joanna was one of the few people who knew when I was undergoing my diagnosis so when I got the ‘results’ it was no shock to her. We do talk about my Autism, mainly making jokes about it but she is also caring about the subject; it’s a nice balance. I know when she read some of my blog posts it really helped her to understand some of my traits – it blew her mind when she realised my Autism is often why I don’t understand her jokes! I love you Josaphine and I can’t wait for you to be the crazy cool Auntie to my future children.

Then, there are three amazing girls who I must mention. First we have Lois; you will never meet a kinder human… plus she loves all things geek. Secondly, we have Charlotte; the bubbliest, smiliest character who shares my love for food. Finally, we have Chloe; if you were to search the phrase ‘ray of sunshine’ in a dictionary you would find Chloe’s beautiful face sitting right there. These girls are each incredible and are always there for me. When all four of us are together there is no better feeling – we laugh until our cheeks ache and dance until we can barely walk. My Mum always told me stories about her and her three friends who would get up to all sorts of mischief; they even started a girl band called ‘PMT (Pre-menstrual tension), also known as the menopausal maniacs’ – what a brilliant name!? With these girls I feel like I have finally found my own girl band. Each of them has been so kind to me about my Autism. Again, I told them via text message and each individual came back with a lovely message. They all admitted that they didn’t know what Aspergers was but, they have all been so willing to learn and that means the world to me. I adore you girls and I can’t wait to see what memories we have yet to create together!

* A special mention to Jack, Jamie and Nick. Each of you are wonderful partners to my girls. I love how each of our friendships have individually developed; I know I can count on all of you should I ever need you. *

Finally, there’s Alex. Alex is my boyfriend but also my best, best, best friend – although I don’t feel the term best friend is good enough for what he means to me. Alex and I were friends first. We were friends for three years before we began to date. I never thought about being in a romantic relationship with Alex, I cherished our friendship too much – although I did used to tell my Mum that one day I would marry him, haha! Eventually our relationship evolved. I am so happy whenever I’m with Alex. I could go on and on but I will leave it at that. Alex didn’t know what Autism was when I first mentioned to him that I was undergoing a diagnosis. During this ‘diagnosis’ period’ Alex was a huge support to me – we were still just friends at this point. When I got my official ‘label’ we had begun dating. Alex made it clear from the initial mention of the word Autism that he wanted to learn as much as possible and he is continuing to learn three years later. He is always asking me questions about how I am experiencing situations, trying to take on board what it means to be Autistic. He understands I need my down-time and he knows when I need to leave an event. He looks after me and protects me from scenarios where he knows I would suffer. He is my rock and I’m not sure how I would function without him. Alex, I love you.

I am lucky to have these great people to help me through my daily struggles and tackle my weekly battles. When I’m with them I feel normal, I am not labelled as Autistic. Unfortunately, it is hard to find an understanding group – I know myself from past experiences. If a friend isn’t supportive of your diagnosis or makes no attempt to understand what you go through then perhaps they aren’t as great as you originally thought. We deserve friends who make us better people not those which drag us down. I am so lucky to have found mine and I hope all of you find yours too… us ASD folk only deserve the best!

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