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Autism: Victoria Harris

January 6, 2012

In the world of Asperger syndrome, Victoria Harris is a success story with a job and a long-term relationship.

She is among just 12% of people with the condition currently employed in Britain, according to the National Autistic Society.

Asperger’s can cause behavioural and social difficulties often meaning it is hard to find work and sustain relationships.

But Miss Harris, from Weymouth in Dorset, has now been going out with her boyfriend Matt Dale, who has Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, for four years.

She believes it was only down to being diagnosed at a young age that she was given the support she needed.

‘Work together’

“I think it is a problem [nowadays] that a lot of people are having with the condition.

“Councils are finding money tight, especially at the moment, so getting a diagnosis is like getting blood out of a stone.”

But life is going well for Miss Harris and, along with her partner, she recently took part in the Weymouth Carnival parading in front of 100,000 people.

“I can imagine a lot of people with Asperger’s finding the number of people, the fact it is such a chaotic environment and being quite bothered by it,” Miss Harris said.

But in Olympic-themed fancy dress outfits they waved to the crowd and collected donations as they walked the route.

The pair are highlighting the condition as part of a BBC South series into people with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome.

They said they had learned to deal with each other’s conditions over the years.

Mr Dale said: “We work together with our conditions and it seems to work out really nice.

‘Makes me happy’

“When we are out and about we just walk around hand-in-hand and no-one takes no notice, they don’t really know anything at all.

“You may get the odd few people who may look at you a bit strangely, but most of them don’t.”

Miss Harris was diagnosed at a young age and found it hard to make friends at school.

“Being an introvert condition you end up thinking solely about yourself.

“At that age I didn’t see friends as an important thing to keep,” she added.

But she now has a part-time job at a Tesco store and is in a steady relationship.

“I’ve been [lucky] to have been able to have both of my parents living with me and that definitely makes me feel happy,” she said.

“And I am happy I have got him [Matt].”

All this week BBC South is featuring stories from people with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism to show what life is like for them behind closed doors.

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