For my 25th birthday this year, I got diagnosed with Autism.
I babysit an autistic girl and I didn’t know the difference between her autistic behaviors and choices that warranted discipline. I googled “autistic behaviors in girls,” and found several articles. I was shook – they were all describing ME. I found a doctor who specializes in diagnosing autism in adults, and after 3 zooms I had my diagnosis. By then, I’d learned enough to not be surprised by his conclusion.
So little is known about autism in girls. The “stereotypical autistic person” is a boy who has trouble with social cues, is quiet, and is incredibly gifted at math and/or science. I struggle with social things, but I’m loud and have no interest in those subjects.
Here’s what I want you to know about autism in girls (& me)
1. Most female autistic people MASK their autism. That means that they copy neurotypical behavior they observe and “act normal” to hide the “weird” (read: autistic) behaviors they have. I have always done that – I’ve unknowingly been doing a lifelong character study of neurotypically-presenting folx and have been choosing to reproduce the desirable behaviors myself, ignoring my natural instincts or my needs.
2. Many traits common in autistic girls are seen as “desirable” in terms of how western gender roles are defined. I got good grades, I’m very organized, and I thrive in daily routines. Many traits of a “good housewife” are behaviors typical in autistic girls, and therefore aren’t recognized as something that requires help/therapy.
3. There’s no cure for autism, and that’s okay! Living with autism is a huge challenge, but also a real gift. I can do things that most people can’t do *because* I am autistic.
4. A diagnosis doesn’t mean I’ve changed. I’ve simply been provided a label for who I already am. I am capable of performing in shows, doing photoshoots, and being in a healthy relationship (and friendships). I may be autistic, but I’m the same person you already know. I just have a name for it now.