“I am a 49-year-old woman and I am Autistic. 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
Annette Foster 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 her 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 articulated the experiences of women’s and people with complex gender identities of being Autistic through visual and performance art. Annette carried out creative workshops with other women, non-binary and trans people on the spectrum, which looked at expressing their experience in sensorial forms other than language using visual and performance art.
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 her 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 Education, outlining the challenges Autistic academics are faced with.
While PhD students, Annette and her 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 her SYA? site.