When Samantha Craft of Everyday Aspie posted on her Facebook page about doing a “blog tour” of interviews with other bloggers, I had to reach out! She may be best known for doing the unofficial but widely shared list of Ten Asperger’s Traits (Women, Females, Girls) – one of the first lists I came across during my preliminary investigations into my own Aspie-ness. I am grateful for her time in completing my interview questions and I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her! 😊🌸
Firstly, thank you for your time and welcome to …i am my own experience… and this “stop” on your blog tour!
Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I love the name “Cherry Blossom Tree.” I have a beautiful aged cherry blossom tree right out my dining room window.
I’ve really enjoyed reading your book, Everyday Aspergers [Amazon UK eBook], and understand that it took ten years to compile and get published – a big achievement indeed! What brought you to writing a blog in the first place?
Yes. I am quite relieved the process is over. It still feels a bit unbelievable. Thank you for taking the time to read the book. I appreciate that. I began blogging in my mid-forties because I was confused by my own diagnosis in regard to what Asperger’s meant to me and how it related to who I already was. I also continued writing because of an experience I had at a university I was attending, in which I was shamed for mentioning I had Asperger’s Syndrome. I was motivated to keep writing to show others they weren’t alone and to spread the word about autism, particularly autistic women and late-age diagnosis. But mostly, it was a place for me to process my own thoughts.
Can you tell me about what has helped you in blogging?
Hmmm. That question can be taken a few different ways. What helped me to blog was all of the thoughts and ideas I had in my head. Getting the diagnosis triggered this whole self-analysis, and that in turn triggered my need to express myself through writing. I’d say the angst inside was a primary motivator, that and the initial support (and later ongoing support) that I received from other bloggers, and later on fellow Asperians
How would you describe your blogging style?
At first I largely entertained. I thought I had to produce something of value to keep anyone interested. There is a lot of humour in my writings during the first year on my blog Everyday Asperger’s. Later, I started to write from the heart, to purge my soul, so to speak. I would simply sit at the computer and listen to myself tell me what to write. It was similar to taking dictation. I just wrote what I heard… my fingers typed. It was a very healing process and very therapeutic. I rarely set out to write on a specific subject or topic, and let what was in me rise up and spill out onto the pages. Most of my time went to editing, sometimes a few hours, because of my dyslexia and dysgraphia and the way I process language. The content itself flowed out quite naturally, and sometimes too fast for my fingers to keep up!
Was there a particular author/writer who inspired you to write?
No. I did run into AlienHippy at the start. She has a wonderful Christian-based blog on her experience as an adult Asperian. If anyone motivated me to continue on, it was her, and a few others; not because of their writing, but because of their kind spirits.
Can you briefly explain for my readers about when you first wondered if/realised that you might be on the Autism Spectrum?
I first seriously considered I might be on the spectrum after I had been taking my middle son to therapy. As part of the requirement for the master’s degree program in counselling I had started, I had to visit a mental health therapist. She happened to be my son’s therapist, and I asked her if she suspected I might have ASD, and she was most definitely sure I did. From there, I sought out an official diagnosis.
How has writing your blog helped you during your diagnostic journey? Has it been a hindrance at all?
The only hindrance happened when one person was offended by something I did/said on Facebook, which I cannot remember at this point, nor can I remember the person’s name. (That’s one of the benefits of dyslexia, face-blindness, and short-term memory issues – I don’t often remember people who, at one point or another, caused me strife). I was deeply vulnerable the first year or so after I was diagnosed and took people’s opinions to heart. I have sensed grown a lot and have tons of strength. But back then, I almost stopped blogging based on judgments and assumptions a person was not only saying about me but spreading on Facebook. I actually wrote a post about the entire experience, not referencing the person or supplying clues about the person. I didn’t wish any retaliation to come that person’s way. I was deeply hurt. But overall, astonishingly, with well over 1 million hits on that blog, that was the only incident! I certainly didn’t think when I started I would be blogging over four years, that’s for sure.
When did you get the idea for My Spectrum Suite? How long did it take for it to become what you hoped for it to be?
When I was about to publish my book, I wanted to form a company to represent the book, beyond the publisher. I wanted a place to display activities associated with Asperger’s, speaking engagements, and share about some of the awesome people I met on the spectrum. I created Spectrum Suite to showcase Aspergians’ gifts in art and literature. I also have a great resource page their of other ASD professionals and artists.
How has becoming a known name in the online Autism/Asperger’s community been for you? What (if anything) would you change about it?
It doesn’t feel real most of the time. When I went to the FABULOUS ANCA Worldwide Autism Festival event in Vancouver, Canada in early October this year, I walked into a formal award event and the sweetest lady (animation artist), Liz, turned around and said, “Are you Samantha Craft? You are my idol. I’ve been following you for years.” Then the lady behind me, another nominee up for Community Mentor, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered with a smile, “I follow your blog, too.” Turns out most of the women from the US at ANCA knew of me or my blog. That felt strange.
I don’t often feel emotions about what I’ve accomplished. I know logically I have accomplished something but don’t feel any sense of pride. The process felt necessary and natural to me — to process, to share, to give, to connect, to write. It wasn’t something I set out to do; meaning, I didn’t set out for people to know me. When I do feel a sense of accomplishment is when I am able to connect one autistic to the others I know and form new friendships and companionships for individuals. I am most happy about that. I cry about that. The rest doesn’t seem significant, even though perhaps it ought to. Kind of like if you brushed your teeth and got thanked for it. I was doing something I felt I not only needed to do, but had to do. It was my calling and soul’s purpose. And I benefited from the experience internally, just as much as anyone else, if not more.
I’m quite excited to be part of the International Aspergirl® Society with you! As it’s still quite new, what do you hope for the future with this Society and for Aspie women and girls?
That’s great you are a member. With all I’m doing, you need to nudge me and remind me to pop on in. Rudy has some great videos listed there. I hope that her vision for the society is reached and that more and more women find a voice, connection, and a way to use their gifts. I think organizations like Rudy’s can go along way in providing opportunity, education, awareness, and a safe place for autistics.
If you had the chance to speak to your younger self, what advice would you give her?
I actually wrote a letter to my younger self twice in the book. One about letting her know everything is going to be okay and one about puberty and boys. Those are the things I’d still tell her. I’d let her know that despite what she thinks she is brilliant, loving, pretty, and going to be safe one day.
To conclude, what would be five random facts about you that no one would ever guess? [these don’t need to be too personal, but just a bit fun!]
Oh, that’s a great question! Let’s see. Most people know so much about me! I like to joke I am a literal open book now . . . hmmm . . Off the top of my head:
- My uncle dated Patty Hearst. (I love to share that one for some reason)
- I am very self-conscious of my upper arms, and have been since I was in my 20s.
- I get mad at myself, if I think anything judgmental about anyone.
- I don’t know if I ever want to write another book, after the long process to write the first.
- I love my toes. They are really cute.
Thank you for this wonderful interview. Thank YOU for your lovely responses!
Please be sure to check out Samantha Craft’s pages across the Internet!