Meet the team

Mandy Chivers

Hi all, I’m Mandy and I’m very proud to be member of the admin team on FIGS. 

I’m a mum of 6 and my two youngest are autistic, Lily is 11 and Ted is 8. It took us 7 years to get a formal diagnosis for Lily and only 3 years for Ted. Constant drs appts being told traits but not enough for formal diagnosis, even now the word trait jars me. T

I came up with the idea for this group as I felt her and girls in general were being let down by everyone, drs, schools etc mainly because there is a generalised assumption that girls can’t be autistic. It was the last thing considered for my daughter and one of the first for my son and I want that to change.

I want the world to recognise our amazing, awe inspiring girls and see what we see everyday!

Helen Bates

Hello! Time to introduce myself I think!  
I'm Helen and I'm admin for this group. I live in rural Devon having relocated from south Worcestershire 22 months ago.
I'm a full time Mum to 2 girls, Darcey 9.5yrs; who has just been diagnosed with ASD and has been GP signed off school for the last 5 months (and counting) awaiting the outcome of an EHCP and Sophie aged 6 who we believe may also be on the spectrum. They are both amazing in their own very different ways!
Dave my wonderful husband almost completes our family save for our golden retrievers (2) and british shorthair housecats (2) who are therapy for us all! 

I am a firm believer in raising awareness of all presentations of Autism; especially atypical / girl presentations together with reducing / eliminating stigma surrounding it. To that end I share our personal journey with friends and family on my own closed facebook page 'Unicorns and Cartwheels'.  Our children get one childhood and they deserve to be happy; achieve their potential and be accepted for who they are!

Vicki May

Hi I'm Vicki and I'm proud to be part of the FIGS admin team. I'm 46, a parent of 2 and live in Brighton.

In our family there's Jon and I, 16 year old Max and Mo who is 14. Three of us are NT and Mo was diagnosed ASD Feb 17. Actually, there are 2 more canine family members and Mo wouldn't forgive me for not mentioning Fern (9 human years) and Lexi (1 human year).

Mo is awesome. However she has experienced some real and significant Mental Heath difficulties due to undiagnosed autism and being at mainstream school. We've got an inadequate EHCP in the last month and have no suitable local provision. She is 'High Functioning', although we all hate that label. She also has diagnoses of OCD, PTSD, depression and anxiety disorder, hyperacusis and misophonia. She has a range of sensory difficulties and is selectively mute. She likely has EDS and has been referred to explore this further. She experiences the world differently, but in my opinion, being autistic doesn't mean you have to suffer with debilitating mental health problems. 

I joined FIGS to help raise awareness and understanding of autism. My learning curve has been really steep. Problems only became really apparent for Mo when she started secondary school. By February of yr7 it was obvious she was suffering; by July yr7 she was in hospital with suspected anorexia. It was only by chance that she was seen by a member of the hospital Mental Heath team who had experience of both anorexia AND autism in girls. He highlighted the possibility of autism, which had never crossed our minds. It took a further 7 months for Camhs to diagnose, and since then it's been a fight every step of the way. For appropriate understanding, for acceptance of the significant issues that Mo experience, and for her mental health issues not to be seen as simply part of the landscape. 

Mo has been out of education since Nov 2016 (yr8) and has tentatively reentered education via a 'non school'. There is no appropriate provision in our local area for 'high functioning' children. 

I joined FIGS because I want to help raise awareness of autism as it presents in girls. I don't want it to be pure chance that someone might recognise the signs and take girls off inappropriate pathways - in our case, Anorexia - if indeed they are put on any pathway at all.

I want schools to spot the signs sooner and work with parents to provide interventions, I want LAs to recognise that our girls do need EHCPs. I want information about autism in girls to be present at every stage of teacher training. I want 'school refusal' to be taken as a serious indicator of anxiety and stress. 

My daughter is incredible and deserves every support. She deserves a safe and appropriate education. I want our fight to be worthwhile in that it changes perceptions and leads to positive intervention. 

I'm proud to be part of the FIGS campaign which sits alongside the incredible support groups which exist both online and offline. I can't wait so see what we can achieve together.

Hannah Quinton

 My name is Hannah - obviously - I’m 25. I’m autistic. I have a fur baby but no real babies. 

I was diagnosed age 23 by private diagnosis due to NHS refusing to refer me for assessment. I have since been made to have an NHS diagnosis too in order for them to add it to their records (tbh if I hadn’t have been on the waiting list for surgery by the NHS I wouldn’t have bothered but I needed the surgeon and everyone around me to know about it in order to help me during that difficult time) 

Anyways - I am the creator of the #doilookautisticyet campaign. Some of you may have seen this on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, tumblr or the express wrote an article about me before Christmas so you may have seen that. 

I work part time and I model in my spare time too. (See photos below) 

I have a husband and a dog. I spend most of my time walking to the pub with both of them and stopping for a pint or three

I have a driving license but no car. I prefer being chauffeured anyway. I hate public transport and walk a lot of places. 

I don’t know many autistic people in real life but I know lots online. 

I believe that autism - although it obviously has its negative aspects - can also be a positive. I am fully aware that it’s a spectrum and as such I obviously cannot speak for all autistic people, only myself, but I try to celebrate my differences rather than wallow in self pity. 

Yeah, I am not gonna lie and say my life is perfect and that I’m always happy and that I ride a unicorn to work. I just try and be grateful for what I do have and the triumphs that I have achieved and the ones that I will achieve in the future. 

I’m eternally grateful to my family too. It was hard for me to grow up without answers about myself but it was also hard for them to raise me without answers too. I appreciate them for their perseverance and my childhood was awesome. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I know that some autistic people have not had the same support from their families which only makes things even harder. 

I want to show the world that we are not all Doom and Gloom. I want to show the world that being autistic is not something to throw a pity party over. My brain works differently. Its not the end of the world. I do not suffer from autism. I suffer from people’s attitudes to autism. 

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll try my best to answer.

Kitty Bull

Hi my name is Kitty, and I am part of the admin team here at FIGS.

I am an autistic advocate, wife, and mum to two small children, living in North Birmingham.

My interest in all things autism began when I realised I am autistic in July 2015, at age 30. I sought an assessment through my GP, who was supporting me with anxiety, and I was referred and then diagnosed in March 2016.

I was diagnosed specifically because I wanted to speak about my autism and be open about it, and I felt that a diagnosis gave me the validity I needed. I talk about autism because I had many unnecessary challenges and struggles in childhood that have left scars, and the legacy of these make adulthood very hard. If by sharing my story I can help one child avoid that same life, I want to do that. 

I find it very hard to tell people I am autistic. Usually people don't know what to say. I remember before I realised I am autistic, a friend told me her husband is autistic, and I felt really uncomfortable about that. When I met him I didn't know what to say and I had this feeling that he wasn't quite like me. It is embarrassing to look back upon, especially as my work before having children was supporting young people with SEN, mostly autistic. Of anyone, I should have understood, but actually I didn't understand at all. And so that is why I share about my own autism, to try and make autism accessible and to help form bridges between people. 

I experience pain through not having been believed about my experiences in childhood and that has left me struggling to speak and express myself as an adult. I live with OCD, complex PTSD, selective mutism and PMDD. I also have a BPD diagnosis. I dropped out of university and I have largely been unable to work as an adult. 

Autistic children are being harmed by our current education system and expectations of children, they often have no respite from the sensory assault, and that needs to end. And that is why I am here at FIGS! 

I love being autistic, I see it as hugely positive and that I have many strengths that are useful to the world. I only see this as a result of my diagnosis and coming to understand autism - prior to that I didn't see my strengths. So I want diagnosis to be easily available to all who would benefit from it and autism to be taken seriously and accommodated, to help us be all that we can be. 

Alongside working with FIGS I have a Facebook page called Spectrumy and you can find me there :-)