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Mum of three Jo Hoskin on deciding to find out if she is autistic in new C4 documentary Are You Autistic?

Mum of three Jo Hoskin on deciding to find out if she is autistic in new C4 documentary Are You Autistic?
(Image credit: Mark Johnson / Channel 4 Televis)

Are You Autistic? is on C4 at 10.00pm this Wednesday

Mum-of-three Jo Hoskin, 35, who believes she is autistic, agreed to do a series of tests to see if her suspicions have any truth to them in C4’s new documentary, Are You Autistic?

One in 100 people in the UK is thought to be autistic, with many of them not even knowing it.

This is partly because autism can be misunderstood and partly because it can take a long time to get a diagnosis. Many women go undiagnosed because they’re very good at hiding their condition in social situations.

Here, Jo TV Times why she decided to take part in C4’s Are You Autistic?

When did you first feel that you were different?

Jo: “When I was at secondary school I noticed that I seemed to keep getting it wrong. I was always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and tending to react the wrong way.”

In what ways do you react differently?

Jo: “Timekeeping is a big thing for me. I get obsessed by what time it is during the day, and I get annoyed when things don’t happen on time. And I hate last-minute changes or surprises! My lovely husband John decided to take me on a surprise day out to Stratford-upon-Avon (one of my favourite places) last year, and he literally gave me 10 minutes to get ready. I was so overwhelmed, I was crying and angry and I didn’t speak to him the entire journey. I felt so out of control. Needless to say he’s never done anything like that since!”

How do you cope in social situations?

Jo: “If I am in a group of people, one of my usual tricks is to pick someone who looks confident and copy them. I also struggle to maintain eye contact with people so another trick I have is to focus on the corner of someone’s eye, or just above it, when I’m having a conversation, so I don’t appear rude.”

Jo with fellow participant JP

Jo with fellow participant JP

What’s the biggest challenge?

Jo: “My lack of empathy. I find it incredibly difficult to guess what other people might be feeling, or to put myself in their shoes. This can make me appear cold and uncaring. On the other hand, what I lack in empathy, I make up for in practical solutions.”

How do you cope at work?

Jo: “I work part-time as a teaching assistant in a primary school and I adore my job! I love the routine and structure of the school day and I find interacting with children much easier than interacting with adults! “

You are mum to James, 12, Harry, eight, and Rosie, four. Do your children see you as different from other mums?

Jo: “I don’t have many play dates with other mums and their children as that would be too much for me to cope with. My children do notice this, and I usually have a long list of excuses available when they ask. As a rule I don’t usually feel guilty about much, but this is the exception.”

What motivated you to take tests for autism?

Jo: “When James was eight, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s, and I started researching the subject. The more I found out, the more I recognised traits in myself and I considered getting a diagnosis, then I changed my mind in case social services thought I couldn’t cope with my children. But when I saw the advert for the show, it galvanised me and I had to know either way.”

How did you feel when you were diagnosed with Asperger’s?

Jo: “I felt a tremendous feeling of peace, and that night I slept for 12 hours straight! It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I was relieved that I’d been given a reason for my difficulties, and that I wasn’t just ‘odd’! The diagnosis has allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin and to finally know who I am.”

Are You Autistic? is on C4 at 10.00pm this Wednesday.