Sarah Clarke, BU MSc Student, recently completed the July 20km Jurassic Coastal Challenge, raising money for the National Autistic Society. 

Sarah, aged 37, was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Having gone through significant challenges in her life, Sarah’s late diagnosis has shed some light on the difficulties she’s faced. Sarah’s first-hand account:

“I’m currently studying MSc Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology at BU and my MSc Programme Leader, Dr Rachel Moseley, has a particular research interest in ‘late diagnosis of autism in girls and women’,” explains Sarah. “It wasn’t until I heard her lectures that I realised ASD could explain many of my difficulties and so I arranged an assessment and was diagnosed. Her articles from the British Holistic Medical Association Newsletter and the University Psychology Department Newsletter have been published in the BMJ and she has spoken on BBC Radio Solent and South Today both about floating and EDS.”

What this Challenge means to Sarah

“In 2018 when my EDS was still undiagnosed and unmanaged, I was housebound for four months as my chronic pain was so severe,” she says. “Last year I became very poorly with malnutrition due to Median arcuate ligament syndrome [compression of the celiac artery, with two cases in every 100,000 people]. Surgery is generally the only recognised treatment, however I delved deep into researching how to help myself and six months later I'm back eating a normal diet and thriving! May was EDS and HSD Awareness Month and during the month, I walked or ran a total of 250 km in one month for the Walk N Roll Challenge!”

“A year and a half ago I came out of a coma. After this, coupled with my recent diagnoses, I really am trying to make the best of my life and opportunities and significantly improve my physical health through self-management,” Sarah continues. “I am making huge, huge progress in my life despite all the challenges I've faced, and I hope to inspire others that it is possible to overcome very dark and desperate struggles. I am even considering doing a PhD next but I certainly want to find a way to bridge my lived experience as a patient with my research interests.”