Autistic women are still left in the dark, and quite a few don’t get diagnosed till adulthood. Some of us are good at masking. A lot of us get told that we are “making it up”. Women have to put up with misogynistic comments and anti-autism remarks everyday. Even now, professionals still believe that autism is a “boys” thing. This isn’t the case!
I previously made a photography/video project on this very subject and interviewed a few women talking their experiences as a woman who’s autistic.
Autistic women barely get represented in the media (UK TV are slowly breaking these barriers). We don’t always have the stereotypical signs that autistic boys/men have, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have these symptoms. We can get overexcited over the smallest of things, including our special interests. Other traits include being really smart or have a photographic mind like Temple Grandin. Some of us don’t have these at all. I always thought I was normal till I was around sixteen. After then, I slowly realised that something was wrong, but I was sceptical and unsure. I then had a rebellious phase and went “There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need help”. Sadly, this was a stupid idea and I learned the hard way that I needed help. I got recommended by someone I trusted that I should check up autism and get diagnosed, as they recently did, and they called me “a walking textbook”. Let’s say, iIm glad I did as I’ve been in the dark with my mental state for years.
In autistic communities. Women groups are growing which is great. When I was first diagnosed, one of the first groups I attended was a women’s group. I felt that it has been beneficial and I have made a few good friends. I’m still meeting more people today! A lot of women are diagnosed later in life. A lot of them are older than myself.
One experience of mine during my “diagnosis journey” was when I decided to see if I was on the spectrum. I visited a doctor and asked him to refer me to the appropriate place, and he told me that “I doubt you have autism”. Despite this, he referred me to a Psychiatrist anyway and I got diagnosed from there.
After getting a diagnosis, You hyper focus on what you are doing and go “is this my autism?”. It took me a few years to get over that mindset. It’s really hard having a mindset adjustment when you discover why you’re the way you are. It’s also annoying when society discovers you are autistic and goes “Oh, I’m so sorry”. I don’t have cancer. Don’t treat me like I am a disease!
I don’t use my autistic traits as an excuse. I can tell what’s a shutdown and a meltdown. I am autistic, but I am human. My autistic traits are me. I am not a “walking autism”. I am human. A lot of my issues now make sense and I can find ways to cope with them. I don’t need fixed.
For women autistic’s, what are your experiences on the spectrum?