about me

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!

 

10 thoughts on “about me

  1. I admire your courage in blogging. My niece’s son has been diagnosed with a similar diagnosis. I have been interested in trying to gain an understanding of the thoughts, feelings and the mechanics involved in dealing with issues of problems involving communication with other s. In no way would I wish to offend you .

    • Thanks for visiting my blog, Tony! I’ve remained quiet about it for a long time. I wanted to just see if I could “blend in” with the rest of the world, but that’s just not happening. I’ve realized that I need to accept myself as I am, not try to change myself like I’ve been urged to do my entire life. The aspergers/autism community is really a spectacular thing. There’s so many bloggers, parents, and loved ones out there writing and working hard each day to not just raise awareness, but to create acceptance. Was your nieces’ son diagnosed with PDD-NOS or ?

  2. Thanks so much for following Scribbles of a Geek! As an autistic woman being assessed for ADHD, I’m really glad that there are now more of us speaking out about AS and how we are angry at the way we’re treated by professionals and by society. Will follow back, can’t wait to see your stuff!

    • Thank you very much Heidi! My ADHD diagnosis happened first, and eventually led to the rest. It’s only been three years since that, and I’ve mostly been silent, because people just didn’t “get it”. Very glad that I found the courage to start writing and sharing, and it means the world to me that people are reading it! Good luck with your ADHD stuff!

  3. Dear Sonnolenta,

    I’m Myriam Leggieri and I’m a PhD student in computer science
    (http://www.insight-centre.org/users/myriam-leggieri) with a passion for
    social issues. Since social work doesn’t pay much, I’m trying to use my
    programming skills to help society nonetheless, especially those people
    more in need. I volunteer for an autism-related charity in my city,
    Galway, Ireland (Galway Autism Partnership) and that’s where the idea of
    a mobile app to support independent living for adult with autism raised.

    I’m currently developing a mobile app called “My Ambrosia”
    (my-ambrosia.com) that is a weekly meal recommender (for healthy diet
    style), planner (to take the fuss out of organizing) and grocery
    shopping support (to never waste or run out of food items).

    The idea was accepted to the second stage (out of three) of the Student
    Entrepreneur Awards competition, so that I’m now in the process of
    writing a Business Plan.

    In particular, I’m running a Market Research and I’d love to get
    feedback on the concept behind my app, from adults with autism. I’m a little struggling with this
    because all the charities I contacted deal with children and parents of
    children with autism, rather than with adults.

    Could you kindly help me out by simply filling the questionnaire at
    http://my-ambrosia.com/?q=survey , please? Also it
    would be super-awesome if you could spread the word and ask your friends to fill the questionnaire.

    I read that you usually eat the same thing for long time frames. I wonder, how would you like an app to recommend the best meal for you, taking into consideration your own preferences? Maybe the recommender could stick to only a small set of food items that you like in this specific time period. It would suggest the best combination of those food items which may not be the healthiest ever but still as healthy as you can get, while satisfying your current wishes.

    Thanks a million in advance! and keep up the great work ;)

    Best regards,
    Myriam Leggieri

  4. I don’t know what was wrong with Steve Jobs, but I was told he ate the same thing for weeks at a time and/or lived on apples or something else. I read that someone else who was as famous as he was… was invited to his house for dinner and that they did not expect there to be anything there that was halfway edible. They probably ate before they went there. I had never heard of anyone being called a fruitarian before either…, it seems very odd.

    I do know some people get so involved in what they are doing they forget to eat. I also know that Bill Gates and some of the early computer and/or software developers stayed awake for over 24 hours at a time and programmed.

    • I definitely forget to eat when I am involved doing something I’m really interested in, or hyper focusing on. Although at other times, I can be a stress eater. I tend to eat the same exact thing for breakfast every morning. Routine is an important part of my day. That doesn’t mean I don’t like variety, but just that the morning hours are a time when routine is most important to me, to get a less stressed start on my day.

  5. Thank you, Cristiana, for sharing with us the moments from your journey!
    As a regular reader of your blog, I have to tell you that I feel very blessed to have a resource which provides a very needful insight into the life of a fellow Autistic, and, the daily struggles that one has to go through everyday and also describes them in a way that is easy to understand for both neuroatypicals & neurotypicals. These daily struggles are the real invisible disability that no NTs or experts can recognise, let alone understand!
    But this is just one aspect. Through reading your blog, I’ve had my own moments of joy, sorrow, laughter & epiphany. There have been numerous moments when I read something that struck a chord with me. You may have been told this earlier too, but you are really blessed with words & expressiveness. You have this extraordinary ability to paint with your words.
    Through your writings, I’ve learnt so much in the last 4 months about my very own neurology and this has helped me enormously to decide what should be the correct take on it – the take that I should have and others should, too, whether it’s my family or the people that I come into contact with everyday. This, in turn, has proved valuable for me as a guidebook to avoid situations and events that may overwhelm me but are completely avoidable otherwise.

    As you are at a point where your Son is about to embark on his own journey, I wish both of you a smooth ride.
    Thank you once again for all that you are doing, be it blogging, advocacy, awareness, philanthropic activities or other similar stuff.
    May you find the correct inspiration & energy to start writing again on a regular basis soon. X

    Best wishes,
    Dave.

    • Thank you for these kind words, and encouragement! I really appreciate it, and it inspires me to write more, even though the words have been shortcoming lately. Thank you.

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