In 2016, I decided to do a personal art project titled Women In The Spectrum. I was not long diagnosed, and I didn’t have much in terms of support. I was seeing a psychologist, and she helped me to visit one autistic support location which was local.
I decided to look into woman in the Autistic Spectrum and how things were different compared to males in the spectrum. This project was the beginning of my autism research and the discovery of autism communities!
To view the photos, click here!
Women in the spectrum is still a hard one in society’s eyes. A lot of women I’ve noticed only get diagnosed during their adulthood. I am also one of them, but there’s women older than me who get diagnosed in their forties.
Women, or girls in the spectrum behave less stereo-typically than boys, and our interests differ. Some of us like to be what other girls are, and try to act like them (masking). We are also prone to be more insecure as we age. I’ve also had moments of imposter syndrome because I’m not the woman “society wants me to be”. I was a young child who liked video games and cartoons. I also liked Japanese culture in high school. All of these things seemed odd to other girls who liked boybands and fashion. I was eager to play with other kids, but I was oblivious to their negative feelings (eg – boredom). I was also notorious with neglecting friends and was upset when they stopped being friends with me. I didn’t realise I was doing something wrong.
A lot of us are stubborn and don’t think of our limits until we are broken-down. Some examples include, masking, overworking, determination to do unrealistic tasks or a disrupted routine. It’s exhausting behaving the way we are “supposed to”. The rules are not a one size fits all, and it’s very ableist. We get accused a lot of being spoilt brats or attention seekers. I’ll admit, I was the child who craved attention. It took me years to stop seeking validation from other people. I used to talk to random people and just mind dump information. It was great being able to talk to someone about my interests when my family had no interest at all.
I’m also a sensitive person. Autistic women do have empathy, perhaps too much of it at times! I used to cry over everything when I was a child.
We are given a map of what an ideal woman is throughout our lives. We autistic women don’t understand everything on it. A lot of it feels illogical. We don’t have to like ponies, pink and boybands to be the ideal girl. We don’t have to be a housewife. We don’t have to please the male. “Our” ways of thinking helps give women ideas to think outside the box.
There’s still ignorance over autistic knowledge, even to this day! Some still believe that autism is just a boys thing. When a female is having a meltdown, they dismiss it as either a young girls tantrum or a grown woman losing the plot. This is sexist. This problem turns sexist when women don’t get autistic support as much as men do.
I am aware that, there are good and bad autistic’s out there. For some women, some of them only stick to one comfort zone and don’t care if they are wrong. They can also be quite manipulative to getting what they want. They can also have ableist attitudes and pity other autistics as though they have cancer. Other’s get too attached to one person and get very nasty when the other person politely requests a break from them. These examples are based on a few autistic people I’ve witnessed.
I am a woman in the spectrum, and I see that there are more women coming out of their shells or receiving diagnosis. I think it’s great to see more of a community for us women, but at the same time, people need to realise that autism is a spectrum for all sex/genders, not exclusively for one.
What are your thoughts?