About me

My name is Paula Sanchez and I have been diagnosed autistic in my mid-40s. I have an autistic teenage son and we live in the West Country.

Apart from spending too much time pootling around the internet, I enjoy making stuff out of yarn and fabric, occasional forays into DIY and gardening, and reading (and re-reading) women’s detective fiction series. I am a PhD student doing research into the experiences of autistic mums.

In February 2017 I left my job of 18 years supporting adults in the criminal justice system.  I loved my work, it was important and it mattered, until privatisation happened. Privatisation meant a challenge to traditional probation values, of social justice and person-centred support, making it harder to support people in the best ways for them. Because when you support people based on their needs, not organisational needs, not targets, not just because that’s the way we’ve always done it, or because it’s cheaper, people flourish and amaze. And that works for us autistic people too.

Along the way I’ve picked up a load of skills in effective ways to support people. Since failing school I’ve taken a scenic route through education as an adult, gaining professional and academic qualifications, alongside my personal and academic experience and knowledge of autism, and am now keen to put these to good use.

I have spoken for the NAS on autistic mothering (Professional Conference 2016); for the Exeter-based charity CEDA Bis-net about how life can be made easier for autistic people who struggle with anxiety in public spaces and places (BisConf 2017); and for the Autism Education Trust about my family’s experience of the SEN system (AET stakeholder event 2017). More recently I devised and ran an introduction to autism training session for volunteers working with autistic and learning disabled people at risk of/in trouble for sex-offending (2018). I spoke about autistic motherhood at the Action for Aspergers AGM/conference in April, and about PDA parenting for the Participatory Autism Research Collective in May. I spoke at the 2018 FiLiA feminist conference about autistic women and misdiagnosis (and am speaking on sexism in women’s health and care in 2019). In early 2019 I presented my critique of PDA at a PDA Society research event, and in March 2019 presented on autistic girls, women and mothering at a joint LSBU/Lambeth schools one day conference on autistic girls.