Women and girls with autism often present with a unique set of characteristics that can make diagnosing their autism difficult. Furthermore, their set of strengths can mask their deficits.
Because boys are primarily the gender mentioned in the news, it is easy to overlook the fact that girls are on the spectrum too. True, boys represent 4/5 of the autism population but that leaves 20% of the affected, female. With the staggering statistics of autism’s rise, that is a significant number of people and probably a conservative figure.
So besides the fact that I don’t have a “male brain” and that theory is demonstrably unsound, and the fact that I can’t learn something that doesn’t exist (aka social skills)…this is really, really good. Especially the bit about “imaginary friends” and detailed personal worlds, I’ve never seen that mentioned anywhere else and it’s very, very true for a lot of people I know.
Yeah, I feel very… “yes… and no” on this.
I see what a lot of it is trying to say. And I’m very thankful for the “imaginary friends and inner worlds” thing, because the next time I hear someone say that autistic people (of any gender!) are all people who “don’t play creatively” and “don’t have imaginations”, I’m going to throw a brick at them… except, not, because I actually don’t like to be violent.
And, and, and, I understand the thing about fashion because, when I was young I didn’t care either, and it’s interesting because… even now, I don’t think I care about what is usually meant as fashion. I don’t care about makeup, I don’t care about following the recent styles. And, I don’t feel like I have to be fashionable. But, I like it, I like playing with clothes, I like creating a unique look for my body, I like matching colours and sprinkling glitter on my face and I like looking like I come from the forest, and being able to change the way that people see me with how I dress. I like the way that, when I am dressed neat, people might smile and think, she’s almost human. (Even though, at other times, I hate to pass for human. Sometimes, it’s also nice to feel like I have enough skills to fit in. Because cultural pressure is horrible like that.)
So, it’s strange and interesting because I’m tomboy and I’m femme and sometimes, I don’t know where I fit because I have been called one when I feel like the other, and, sometimes I ask myself… “can I really be a tomboy?” Or, “can I really be femme?” Because, so often, people tell me the other thing. But, for me, they match. I am not someone who wears fashion like it’s a part of my body, like it has to be there. It’s a performance. I perform fashion, but I have fun doing it, because it helps me express myself, like drawing or writing.
And, this really helps me to understand that, helps me understand why I feel androgynous but at the same time, femme (and female). And, how the two things can exist in the same person. Because, fashion isn’t something I am, it’s something I perform, it’s like costume for me. And, most of the time, I’m just likely to have nails that are covered in several different types of paint, and ugly because I bit them, and scratches and burns on my hands because I get involved in some kind of craft and I don’t really take care, and some clay or something in my hair and to be walking around in an old t-shirt and my underwear. And I’m happy that way, too.
And, I definitely used emotional situations in stories to help me to model reality (after I understand that that is what fiction can be for). And I am definitely an appeasing person (except when someone crosses my bad side, and then I am a nuker, or I am told this, but… I’m an appeasing kind of nuker? Hehe.) And, a lot of it, is really accurate.
But, but, I’m very worried about saying this is a “girl thing” because, because, I don’t know. That just seems like it can get into all kinds of sexist and bad places, and I really don’t think I have a “male brain” (whatever that means), and… yeah. And, I wonder where a lot of this is intersectional because, I’m sure this is based on a very Western sample and Western way of looking at things, and, I’m sure that my cultural upbringing has something to do with being an appeaser/apologising, and it’s complicated and I don’t like the sexist idea that this is just a girl thing
(and also, I don’t feel like I have deficits, I have differences)
I do feel like this a lot, it’s true.
(Also, I just discovered theskinofourteeth and I want to roll in everything they post, I hope that’s okay. （´・ω・｀）)
(I think about all the words that stay locked in my throat, and I give a small and terrified smile and look over their shoulder and into nothing at all.)
I’m really quite lucky I have such a command of language.
(There are maybe five people in the whole wide world I can talk to face-to-face without wanting to die, without having a panic attack, without needing to hurt myself or sleep for hours afterward. Two of them receive speech therapy. None of them obey the usual laws of dialogue. I know that, really, I’m lucky to have anyone at all.)
My verbal agility is a sign of something, they’re sure.
(When I’m trapped into a conversation in the kitchen of someone else’s home, I stare at the table and see nothing at all, and my throat closes and my ears ring and the world is small and distant and hot and I am agile because adrenaline alters our capabilities.)
I’m really quite social.
(If I am asked how are you I will always say fine. If you ask me anything at all I will throw as many words as I can in your general direction. I can have quiet hands but the loudest mouth, I’m very advanced, and for my next trick I’ll even ask what’s up with you.)
I can answer every question you might ever have.
(Except for what do you need or how do you feel or do you want anything or is this okay.)
I can request independently and answer yes-no questions reliably.
(I can request independently because I never make requests, which means independence, which means I must not have to but I could if I did, right? But if you ask me if I need help I will say no, and if you ask, as my hands fly around my ears and my shoulders go tight and small, if I’m okay, I will say yes because I can’t say no and if I could it would mean more talking and less space and I will say anything at all to get you to go away until my brain is my own again.)
I am verbose and prosaic in my speech.
(I am as helpless to stay silent when you speak to me as I am to move when I need to do laundry. I freeze, staring at my dirty clothes, and every cognitive break I own clamps down because I can’t, because there are too many steps, because this has been the Summer Of Laundry Wars and I have lost. But there are no steps at all in unhinging my jaw and going somewhere very far away and echoing, echoing, reciting and remixing scripts about Why I’m Not In School and What I Did This Summer and Why We Deserve Human Rights until the tape runs out.)
I have such a good grip on the English language.
(And such a poor grip on reality, going somewhere still and quiet and out of my head while my mouth turns tricks for you.)
I’m never told I’m impolite or out of place or off script.
(Bad, too serious, perseverative, disconnected, hateful, boring, too enthusiastic, dogmatic, of course. All of those. And that’s just for talking about a show I like, without even stepping on anyone’s toes. For being happy, for getting excited about something, for trying to share. For saying something that wasn’t an answer to a question. But everything’s fine, and I’m very polite, I’m very well trained.)
I can say whatever you ask of me.
(I’m very obedient.)
I’m an Acceptable Autistic.
(I never disagree with you to your face, and you’ll probably never hear about it because the gore in my stomach when you tell me I must be very high-functioning gets pulled down by the fear of quiet hands and you must not understand and I know putting yourself in other people’s shoes is hard for you.)
I’m a Forgettable Autistic.
(As a child, I didn’t cry when I broke my wrist, which meant I didn’t feel pain. I read about social skills when I was bullied, so I wasn’t mistreated. I didn’t cry when I was abused, so it wasn’t abuse. Now, I tell you it’s fine and I walk away, and maybe I sat in a hallway for two hours the other week, unable to remember how to stand, but I can tell you I’m fine so I must be.)
(So you don’t have to listen.)
Except, sometimes I’m not even good at this. I lock up when people say, “how are you?” But I know, too well, all the times I have tried. Staring at a pattern in the floor, feeling like the world is going small and pale and, in this moment I’m okay because I can just stand here, if I just stand here I don’t have to say anything and the world can go quiet but it doesn’t, they always ask what’s wrong and, they don’t understand, those words are what’s wrong.
(and for my next trick I’ll even ask what’s up with you. Yes.)
Ok, fine. You are exactly as worthwhile, as complex, and as advanced as a hamster. Or an ant. Or a fish. How’s that for anti-speciesism.
Actually, yes, no other being is less or more worthwhile than me, so, yeah, I am as worthwhile and complex as a hamster, an ant, a fish, or any other being. Not complex in the same way— because we’re different— but in the case of complex as a value statement, then yes. We’re differently complex but not more or less complex than each other. All species are equally valuable and worthwhile and their complexities are also equally valuable and important. As for “advanced” … That’s a really oppressive term, but yes, none of us are more or less “advanced” than any others— but I don’t think we should use terms like that, because they imply that that should even be a consideration in the first place. They also refer to the very real scales and measures of “advancement” that exist and perpetuate so many forms of oppression.
Sounds like this person thinks you should be insulted by things that shouldn’t be thought of as insults.
“Okay, fine, you’re gay! How do you like that?” “Uh, I like that just fine, thanks.”
I am as worthwhile as any life, fish, ant, hamster or other. It’s the people who find that controversial who are showing their prejudice.
[warning: ableism, cruelty to autistic children, speciesism]
I’m writing this in your submit box because the ask box appears to have a limit now ._.
Seeing as you often write about autism, and about the ways to “fix” people who have it, I remember that a couple of weeks ago someone on the news talked about US researchers finding a connection between autism and an illness of the stomach, since many autistic people are also prone to stomach-aches and for the ones who volunteered to be part of the research, even if they did not feel pain, there was the same illness… I can’t accept the fact that autism is a physical state, and the doctors who had found this said that even if you cure the stomach, it will just lighten the case, but not “cure” it completely. So, it makes me think, it’s just who autistic people are… Even if there is something in your stomach that really is “wrong” because it causes you physical pain, once it’s gone an autistic person will still have, even if slight, signs of autism - it’s who they are. And, some of the greatest people were autistic, the first one to come into mind being Einstein. I have never met an autistic person, but even if it is difficult for me to understand everything they say or do (or don’t), I would just have to accept that. And, maybe the “normal” people are the ones that have malfunctioned (sorry to use that word, but I think it fits here) - since when is it normal for a society of creatures that are believed to be the “most social and most developed” to not understand each other’s differences? And, even worse, trying to “fix” these differences so that everyone is the same…
Just to mention, I don’t think that humans are in fact the most social and most developed creatures, but isn’t it normal to try and live up to that name instead of blindly believing in it?
My mother works with children with disabilities, and often times, the causes for them having the so-called disability, is from outside sources (she is actually specialised in helping children who mispronounce certain sounds, but there is a shortage of workers in the disabled children area, so she has to put everything she knows to use). She herself, is terrified at how some parents just bring their children and leave to calmly sip coffee somewhere, convinced that a stranger will “cure” their children, and then they don’t occupy themselves with their children at home. And I’m not talking about doing something special, such as giving them toys meant for people with special needs. No, some hardly even talk to their children.
And, I don’t know about the people abroad, but here there’s a really big gap between the “normal” ones and everyone else. I am friends with one of my mother’s patients, who, due to a doctor’s mistake (she was born late at night so the doctors were in a hurry to get off shift - can you imagine?!) has cerebral palsy and an IQ of 30 (although my mum thinks it has been estimated wrongly and it’s higher, I don’t know about this but I’m pretty sure measuring someone in numbers isn’t very correct). Once I was helping her with her wheelchair by a pool and the children there gathered around us and pushed each other to see her better. But, when I talked to my mother about this, the girl herself just said “Well what do you care about them?!”… And while sometimes it’s hard not to care, I think she’s right - people who try to “fix” you, or who find you “weird”, they can’t change anything, and I know this sounds cruel of me to say but they don’t bring around much good with this attitude.
I don’t know you apart from the Internet, but from what I’ve seen here you are lovely, you being autistic doesn’t change that in neither a positive nor negative light, you are you and I like you that way and I just want you to know that (and I say “you”, but in fact it is directed to anyone, autistic or otherwise).
Ah, I hope you didn’t mind if I publish this! I just thought, it’s well said in so many ways….
I realy agree, about simply talking to your child and interacting in a normal way. I think, a lot of families who have autistic children try very hard to “cure” them, that they see it as a disease and the child as something that can’t be complete. So, they never interact with a child as a person, they won’t consider it “worth to do” until the child gets “better”.
To me, this seems the same as the difference between people who talk to companion animals like they are equals, and people who talk to them like they are pets (I hope no one is offended when I compare the two, because I feel, the argument against this is speciesist too, to say that we can’t compare children to animals is to just create the same stereotype again that animals are not worth as much as human children and I don’t believe that). Often, the people who talk to animals as equals, the animals will express their selves in their own way, it might not be 100% the same way as a human (because they are not human, of course!) but, they will learn and grow because of the bond. But, people who treat the animal like they are empty and hopeless from the beginning, the animal will only act withdrawn and live to the expectations of what they are given.
It’s the same here, if you are always acting like your child is something broken, then, why do they want to interact with you? But, if you simply let your self be gentle and open, they may come to you as they wish. And, in the end, it’s their choice. You can’t force it. But, it’s more likely to happen.
And yes… I have never had stomach problems, and, even if I do, changing that won’t change the way I think! It’s the whole person I am. (And, maybe these people are reacting with more strong coping behaviours because they have stomach pain… so, the treatment doesn’t take away the way they think… they just have less need to use those behaviours.) I read some things recently that are really good criticisms of studies of autism… the studies talking about how they judge if someone is autistic, by how hard they find it to understand neurotypical people. But, neurotypical people don’t understand autistic people either, and, no one ever acts like this is strange or wrong. Neurotypical people can want to “cure” autistic people, they can think that it’s less important for a child to suffer than for them to look normal in public even if it hurts, and takes away their natural way to cope, and they are considered to be “kind” and autistic people are considered to “have no empathy”… they won’t look in the mirror at their selves?
I’m so touched you think I’m a lovely person… you really are too, everything we share always makes me really happy… you have such a clear mind that will see through the problems in society today just like a knife, and, it’s always so relaxing to talk to you, knowing that you don’t judge people in a knee jerk way and actually want to listen to people. Thank you, for all your kind words….
Today my cog sci professor showed us a survey we could take online which asks us to rank various entities in terms of how conscious they are. Who is more conscious, a man in a permanent vegetative state, or a chimpanzee? Most surveys will normally list a risk of becoming emotionally upset in the…
And apparently awareness is somehow a limited quantity so if one person has it, somewhere else, someone else can’t. Even if they’re halfway around the world from eachother. What, is there a sentience butterfly that flaps ti’s wings and causes a brain-storm elsewhere?
There’s enough regard for personhood to go aound. Any limit on it is artificial. Any time someone says respecting one group more means respecting another less, they are full of it.
“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”—Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
It is by far the best season. Tonight felt a lot like fall, and got me looking even more forward to it. I can’t wait for perfect weather, apple cider, apple picking, foliage, sweatshirts, and my classic list of fall records.
In fact, I think I’m going to make a fall playlist in the upcoming week or so. If there was a place on earth that had autumn year-round, I would move there, no questions asked.
I really want to know what your fall playlist would be! <3 If you can send me the list when you are finished, I would be so happy~~
I wish I’d been born in Autumn, or Spring. Though I am pleased to be born in July (a Cancerian maiden through and through, with the Moon guiding my heart), I feel more connected to those two seasons.
The cool crisp weather of September and October, bundled up in jumpers and cardigans makes me feel truly happy. I love looking at the vivid colors on the trees, recognizing the transient nature of the hues and shades of each leaf floating to the ground; Winter comes close behind, nipping at Autumn’s ankles like a hungry creature.
Spring is lovely to me as well; the coolness of the air also has a strange warmness to it, as if it means to say “I am only here to warm you up for my sister, Summer.” I love the blooming flowers, the bright colors that seem ever brighter after Winter’s steely grey skies and pure white snows.
Winter is a lovely season, but it is too cold feeling for me. Not just temperature-wise, but in terms of scenery, of feeling. Winter just “feels” cold to me, and I like to think I am not a cold person.
Summer is nice enough, but it is far too hot for me. It is difficult for me to celebrate my birthday the way I would like. I would like to go and have a picnic in the park with a few friends, drink some champagne or a little wine, and wander the forest setting up glamourbombs and taking pictures, all dressed up in faerie costumes or Renaissance garb. But in the summer, it is always too hot.
I end up in my room with the fan on, or in an air conditioned mall, trying to avoid social interactions with strangers, even so much as a glance from them.
Ah, I feel with you, about Summer. Too too hot for anything. I am comfortable with Winter and Her cold nature… I draw light hearted friends, but I’m always the shadow girl, and, okay with that.
Your birthday plans sound lovely, if you were able to do it… a little bubbling wine to brighten the faerie mood, costumes, gentle song and magic. I would love to be there. It sounds like the perfect birthday… but… I would feel scorched, also. We would end up hiding in the shade, feeling sad we can’t run and dance the way we like.
It’s 9pm, and I’m sitting in front of my fan right now… need the cool, always need the cool. But, I got this large fan, lovely and cold, and now I am always a little more cold at night than warm, so that I get shivers on my legs, and, it’s nice that way. A little shivering cold to curl away from, rather than a heat that clings to me, and I can’t escape from, like a lover with a fever and a desperate soul. The cold doesn’t need me, it doesn’t mind if I reject a little, we are quiet companions in the dark and silence.
I was born in the spring, and it always feels wrong, the farthest time away from when I can be my self. It seems to remind me of the accident of my body… I was made to be a snow girl, a winter spirit, and my body holds me away from it, making me wait all the year just to sink in to something that is me again.
I want to fall in the leaves with friends, with sweet faerie wine in my mouth and dry scattered violets in my hair, tasting the frost on my lips that is hinting at an arrival, like a long-lost relative sending postcards to your door: I will be here soon. And hold my breath, and hope, and dream.
Thank you for this. It makes my mind feel refreshed tonight, to write a little, after all.
yes, yes, exactly. for me, the seasons, are kinda like a phoenix. Spring is a birth, Summer is a living, Fall is a slow dying, and Winter is death, the cold sleep. I'm personally a Fall person; Winter is much too cold for me. [among other reasons].
Ah, beautiful words! The warmth of the sun, lighting the fire again to allow the phoenix to rise. I think, it’s very true… what a beautiful way to think of it.
The seasons bring death, but, they bring life just as much… it’s the death that never really dies, the hope that all things will be reborn. Even in the coldest winter, we don’t need to be frightened, because we know that life continues on. And, I think it’s so with any kind of death, too.