A BUSINESSWOMAN from Hampshire who was diagnosed with autism and ADHD in her 40s has set up an award-winning coaching business - and she's determined to raise awareness of the conditions to help others. 

Nikki Butler, from Alton, has spoken out on the back of ADHD Awareness Month, which takes place in the UK every October.

However Nikki said wants to redirect the conversation away from the awareness campaign and go further to help others gain ‘understanding and acceptance of each individual and their needs’.

Nikki said she struggled for years with feeling inadequate before her diagnosis. She experienced burnout in the corporate world and found she was hiding her experiences to fit in.

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After being diagnosed, she said ‘it all made sense’ and she no longer felt ‘compelled to try and fit in'.

Nikki set up the Autistic Joyologist, a coaching business with a focus on supporting neurodivergent female entrepreneurs. This has been received so well that she has even been nominated for an honour at the Great British Business Woman Awards. 

Her mission is to change the landscape for future generations by moving towards a society that 'understands, accepts and celebrates the uniqueness of neurodiverse minds, enabling future generations to lead more fulfilling lives.'

She said: “The thought of younger generations reliving our experiences breaks my heart, if they feel like they can be accepted exactly as they are, it’s much better for them.”

Stereotypes around autism and ADHD often revolve around symptoms found in young boys, with many women waiting until adulthood to be diagnosed. A study by Dr Robert McCrossin found that around 80 per cent of females remain undiagnosed at age 18.

“Stereotypes are a survival thing,” said Nikki. 

“That helps people filter information quickly, but because we have these legacy stereotypes, even for me, I remember being diagnosed and thinking of a small boy running around."

Nikki said she’s been dropped by friends who refused to accept her diagnosis and she thanks people in her life, such as her mother, who took the time to ‘get to know her again’.

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She said: “I'm coming up 48, my mum is in her 70s. I went to school in the 80s, no one was going to say to you, your daughter is autistic or ADHD. I really commend her for getting to know me again and supporting me.”

According to Nikki, the most important thing to do is simply listen, and understand that things are different every day.

She said: “If you have someone in your life that is Autistic or ADHD listen to them, whatever they are telling you their experience is, believe that to be true. That is their experience.

"Just because their experiences don’t fit a version of what other people have in their heads about autism and ADHD, that’s why we need to eradicate these outdated stereotypes and instead understand each individual experience.

"Be patient, accepting that it will change. Understand that something they can cope with on one day they might not be able to cope with the next, it's not static."