Autism. I was diagnosed when I was 41 years old. That was when my lifetime of confusion and struggle ended, and the whole point of my journey became vividly clear. I’ve had a rather turbulent life, but diagnosis has allowed me to slow down. To stop and smell the roses. To just be. And that’s a beautiful thing.
I’m a single Mother. Secular eclectic homeschooler. Autism activist/advocate. Dog lover. Pagan. Cosmetic formulator. Business owner. Writer. List-maker. Jewelry maker. Avid gardener. Eternal student. Photographer. History buff. Star gazer. Violinist, and constantly learning and seeking for more.
I prefer the written word over speaking. Speaking is difficult/stressful, unless my words are previously rehearsed, repetitively. But even the written word can result in misplaced meaning and hazy communication…
Here’s my “formal” bio:
Cristiana Giulia Calderan Bell received an autism diagnosis in 2011, when she was 41. Since then, she has dedicated herself to creating a more neurologically-friendly life. She’s a single Mom who eclectically home schools her Son, and blogs about her journey at Sonnolenta.com. She is passionate about helping others to understand more about Adult ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, Comorbid Mental Illnesses, and the impact that parental suicide has on survivors. She is a neurodiversity activist, and has helped to raise funds for Autism Women’s Network and The Golden Hat Foundation through the creation of autism acceptance-themed eyeshadows, via her small independent cosmetics company, Aromaleigh Mineral Cosmetics. Cristiana is a committee member for Autism Women’s Network’s DIVERgent initiative, a place where disability and feminism collide.
Let me guess, you’re wondering what “Sonnolenta” means?
Sonnolenta. (so-no-len-ta) In Italian, to be drowsy. sleepy. soporific; is “SONNOLENTO”. I started saying this word, because the Italian word for tired, “STANCA” sounded like “stinky” to me. Silly thing, but how words sound and look is a bit of a fascination for me. I like words. I especially like unusual words, like “dormiveglia”- look it up! Literally to me, I’ve pieced together other things, loosely: sono: I am (io sono) lenta: slow
For me, “sonnolenta” is the art of living life slowly, fully, intentionally… within the limitless boundaries of being a neurodivergent woman on the Autism Spectrum!
There is a great deal of misunderstanding and ignorance regarding Autism Spectrum disorders in women. Women tend to go undiagnosed, with a trail of misdiagnoses and a lifetime of confusion and struggling to fit in, left behind in their wake. Women with ASD are more likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, than their male counterparts. Women with ASD are more likely to be treated like they are mental patients, flawed, weak or defective; while males are more likely to be correctly diagnosed, seen as disabled, receiving correct treatment/help, and not looked upon as negatively. This presents a unique, and often heartbreaking set of challenges for women with ASD to overcome. Mostly all of the early writing, documentation and research about Autism and Aspergers was done with male children, and men. Not women. It was believed that it was a male disorder. That is not the case.
I have been frightened to share my diagnosis or to write about it. I’ve become a hermit of sorts, and had given up on being part of the movement to change society’s perceptions. But I’m stronger now. I’m ready. I made my first public (although anonymous) “declaration” of my diagnosis and situation in this post. While it is characteristically verbose, it hardly scratches the surface of what I hope to eventually write about.
On February 14, 2014 I participated in the #lovenotfear flash blog to raise awareness of neurodiversity and autism acceptance. It was on this day that I put my professional skills as a cosmetic formulator to use and created a special eyeshadow color, #lovenotfear to be sold through Aromaleigh Cosmetics, and benefit The Golden Hat Foundation. It was important to me that the world know that this eyeshadow was concepted and created by a woman on the autism spectrum. Rather than continue to hide behind my diagnosis, I chose this as a good opportunity to raise awareness. You can read more about the eyeshadow and purchase a sample or full size, here.
I’m not sure what direction this blog is going in. Some days I write about life on the spectrum, some days I share photos from my hiking excursions. Other days I reblog, when I can’t get the words to flow correctly. But most of all, what I wish to eventually share is my journey. There are many wonderful and informative blogs and websites about Autism and Aspergers. I hope that my writing can provide a unique window into my world. Thank you for visiting!