Aoife Dooley has accomplished a lot in her 28 years. Best known for 'Your One Nikita' (formally known as Dublin Hun), the illustrator has two books under her belt (How to be massive, How to deal with poxes on a daily basis) and recently created an animation for the RTÉ Player.
Additionally, the Coolock native is busy working the Irish stand-up circuit, gigging all over the country with comedic heavyweights such as PJ Gallagher, David O’Doherty, and Alison Spittle.
Last year, Aoife's career took another turn when she was diagnosed with autism at the age of 27. We sat down with the artist to discuss her experience. Watch the interview above.
Initially, it was a friend of Aoife's that got the ball rolling. He had already been diagnosed with autism at the age of 30 and suggested that she go for testing after mentioning that he could "see a few traits" in her.
"I always knew there was something a bit off. I always felt different but I didn't know what exactly it was," she explained.
Despite her initial reservations, the comedian soon found herself watching documentaries and YouTube videos on the subject and, before long, had an appointment for an assessment.
"Nearly everything I read or watched... I couldn't believe how much it related back to my life and growing up as a teenager and a child. Everything linked back."
According to the HSE, autism is a disability that affects the development of the brain in areas of social interaction and communication, the first signs of which usually appear at the age of 3.
If a parent notices some behavioral differences in their child, their family GP can refer them to a pediatrician for assessment. However, if a person wishes to go for an assessment after the age of eighteen, it seems that things become more difficult.
According to Autism Ireland, the processes for diagnosing adults are not quite as established as those for diagnosing children and they have been advised that, quite often, the HSE will not conduct adult assessments. This was the case for Aoife, who decided to seek out a private consultation.
"The woman I went to was Caroline Winstanley. She's based out in Bray but she calls out to your house and she usually talks to your parents but I couldn't do that so I had to remember as much as possible from my childhood."
The feedback Aoife received confirmed her suspicions, and she was told she was ASD1, which previously would have been known as 'high-functioning' Asperger Syndrome.
Aoife believes that, in reality, her autism diagnosis has changed very little in her life but she is glad to finally have an explanation as to why she so often felt out of place.
"Nothing changes, you're still the same person. I think I was waiting for something to click," she said. "All that happened for me is now I know who I am, I have more confidence in myself and who I am and I'm not struggling with anxiety as bad as I would have been."
Before finding a career in comedy and illustration, Aoife struggled with traditional workplace settings and, up until her diagnosis, would have found many social situations difficult to deal with.
"Having to work in a place with neurotypical people [people not on the autistic spectrum] and having to keep up with neurotypical people and basically just people assuming that you're one of them... You can't do certain things as fast or you don't grasp things as fast - that's where I would struggle."
Since her assessment, the comedian has embraced her diagnosis and is excited to implement it into her work at every opportunity.
"It's allowed me to be myself and let other people enjoy the comedy as well. I'm just talking about my own experiences and I've brought autism into it but, obviously, in a good way."
To learn more about Aoife's experience with autism, watch the interview in full in the video above.
You can find out more about Aoife Dooley by visiting her website.