Annette Foster (they/them) PhD

“I am an Autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic, non-binary person with attention differences. I was diagnosed at the age of 39, after years of feeling confused, frustrated and alienated, because I was aware of my difference but I didn’t know how I was different. After years of misdiagnosis and a life time struggle with mental health issues, I finally had an answer, I am different, and I know why, I am Autistic!”

– Annette Foster

Dr Annette Foster (she/they) is a multidisciplinary performance and live artist, Autistic self-advocate who completed a PhD in 2021.

Annette’s autobiographical, multidisciplinary performance work has been informed by feminism, identity, gender, sexuality, and difference. Annette is dyslexic and dyspraxic, and was diagnosed as Autistic aged 39. This has led them to become an Autistic and neurodivergent self-advocate and to undertake a funded PhD at the University of Kent starting in 2016 and completed 2021.

Annette’s PhD ‘“Autistic [Neuro]Queer Pioneers” – Using participatory autism research, performance and visual art to articulate the experiences of late diagnosed autistic women (cis- and trans-) and non-binary people (AWCTN+)’.

This was a practice-as-research project using creative (performance and visual art), and participatory autism research methods to explore and articulate the lived experiences of AWCTN+. Annette developed a series of creative workshops with Autistic university students inspired by their own lived experience as a late discovered/diagnosed Autistic person and as a creative practitioner.

Annette explains the gender and sexuality diversity of the Autistic community in training, outlined and bookable here.

Annette’s ambition was and is to collaboratively explore creative Autistic self-advocacy by producing art with workshop participants that aims to dispel stereotypes, in order to make Autistic women, non-binary and trans people more visible. 

In 2019 Annette performed their work Adventures of Super Autie Gang, a piece built on the collaborative story-telling workshops with fellow Autistic people.

Annette and Chloe contributed a chapter to Brown’s Lived Experiences of Ableism in Academia: Strategies for Inclusion in Higher Educationoutlining the challenges Autistic academics are faced with.

Annette and Chloe joined Meghan Ashburn of Not an Autism Mom to talk about their chapter, and the interview can be watched here.

While PhD students, Annette and their friend and colleague, Chloe Farahar, together developed So, You’re Autistic (SYA)? at the University of Kent. SYA? is a pre- and post-diagnostic support for Autistics: a support programme teaching those with a diagnosis, awaiting a diagnosis, or self-diagnosed HOW to be their authentically Autistic selves – to understand what being Autistic means for YOU.

Annette and Chloe developed the SYA? programme so that future Autistics do not have to figure out what being Autistic means alone – to explore what being Autistic means together. 

More information can be found on their SYA? site.

Articulating women & non-binary Autistic experiences via performance art: Annette on Aucademy

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