Friday, April 24, 2009

About Women with Autism: 4 Points....

Women with autism are real women. They live, they give birth to babies, they study, they laugh, they go to the movies, museum, café. They travel, explore, read, talk, think, feed this world just as other women do. Women with autism need the world to show ourselves. The world needs them, with their special talents and gifts.
The time has come for women with autism to step into the spotlights. The need, is growing for understanding about autistic women. Here are 4 Reasons Life is not always easy for women with autism. Actually, for women with autism life is more difficult then for men with autism.

1.NOT DIAGNOSED AS AUTISM MAKES WOMEN FEEL ISOLATED
The difficulties woman deal with are simply not diagnosed as being autism. Many women feel they are different then other women, but have no clue what the answer would be to the riddle of their life. I call these woman the Silent Autism Women Sufferers. Sorry if you are one of them.
More knowledge about women with autism is necessary to make a very early autism diagnosis possible. This early diagnosis may less the pain, the abuse and their sense of inferiority.
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In school, while autistic boys are typically loud, disruptive and destructive, girls can be quiet, passive and compliant, but mentally absent; and students who give no trouble are less likely to be flagged up by a busy teacher. It has also been suggested that autism could be one possible cause of traditionally 'female' problems such as anorexia. Christopher Gillberg of the National Centre for Autism Studies at the University of Strathclyde explains, 'A girl may be withdrawn and uncommunicative without attracting attention, but when she develops a calorie fixation it becomes a serious problem. Counting calories may be a manifestation of autism. Some women could be going undiagnosed.'

Ever since autism was first identified in the 1940s it has been accepted that autistic males heavily outnumber females. In Autism: Explaining the Enigma (2003), Uta Frith, a leading developmental psychologist at University College London, says that among those with the most severe autistic symptoms the ratio of men to women is four to one, rising to 15 to one among those with Asperger's syndrome (a variant in which autistic behaviours are less extreme and verbal ability is higher).
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2. AUTISTIC WOMEN CAN MASK THEIR DIFFICULTIES TOO WELL?!
Autistic women often fly beneath the radar because of their ability to mask their difficulties! Girls/women with autism are often considered to be more verbal and more compliant than boys in educational settings, and therefore might show better compensatory learning. Many women do. Women with autism can be pleasant, personable women and they can have a living conversation with others. Let me tell you that I also do gossip and like talking about femine things, like men, hair and make up issues, PMS. It’s all there but not in the way normal women do. Women with autism simply have less developed communication skills. This is a thing many people forget. 'I can not believe you are autistic, you seem to talk so well'. That hurts, people overrate us, this makes us feel isolated and I am left behind feeling unable to explain about myself something people can probably not understand.

3. STRUGGLING THROUGH LIFE (WITHOUT A LABELED CAUSE)Struggling to belong to society, but not knowing why you are rejected by that very society may cause many problems. One might become exhaused just by doing the probably right thing, but not know what the right thing is. Women with autism may loose herself. There is no identity to replace this. The struggle has no name yet. In case you have not been diagnosed yet, this struggle may become such a big, painful experience one can see this as a traumatic event. A women may abuse her own body and mind and cope with an very high sense of inferiority. Life is not more than a struggle, the fun of life is gone, and there is simply no view of improving life in future, because there is no label given yet.

4.THE EMPTYNESS OF ADULT LIFE WITHOUT MOTHERHOOD/CAREER
The gap between motherhood and having a normal adult life can be very depressing for women with autism. In a world in which empathy seems to be awarded as one of life’s most important issues, women with less empathy, due to their autism, have a tough time. How much the emancipation has entered our way of thinking, the empathy thing, the feelings thing is still seen as being a woman’s major gift. When a woman does not have those feeling things, she is often seen as not equal to other women. Emapthy is associated with the ability of caring, loving, supporting others and raising children. Although there are women with autism who raise kids, many women with autism do not start a family. Motherhood is a valued thing in society.

What next to be done to fullfil life and make you feel respected by society? Not all women with autism have the abiltiy to finish education/graduate/go to university. With less learning capabilities, as goods as it gets you may be lucky to find a paid job having autism. often the type of jobs for someone with autism may not offer spectacular career opportinuties. This is something which can be felt like a gap. A missing link because a family or a career might be seen as a fullfillment of life. Where to find identity now? And how to deal with being unfit for work? The life of a jobless who is just not able to find a job due to their invisible autism may be harder for women with autism (without children), because work offers many social contacts. When there is no family planning, e.g. because there is no partner of a child wish, one must find a way to cope with life and to make life worth living.

All four women agree it is harder for a woman with autism than for a man, though they can't explain exactly why. This is one of the difficulties of talking to autistic people: they find it easier to talk about concrete realities - bus routes, football, a broken clothes-horse - than about issues or theories.
Understanding of autism in males has increased dramatically over the past couple of decades.


Part of this article was published on http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/women_shealth/3356496/Autistic-women-a-life-more-ordinary.html

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3 comments:

Laura said...

What a beautiful post... you brought up some great points I hadn't thought of. In particular, the one about women being too good at masking their disability. I know you have talked about how women may not get diagnosed because they might just seem shy, but this seem to be a little different aspect.

Anyways, keep writing! I love reading your blog!

nicocoer said...

Wonderful post!

Sharon daVanport said...

What a terrific post! Absolutely explains so much of what it's like for us. I gave up masking a long time ago, and I work especially hard to be authentic and advocate for myself every step of the way.

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