As you may have noticed I’ve been absent for a few months again now. I’ve been struggling with both what to write, and with my own health and mental health. I’m hoping that I can start again fresh now it’s the new year, I will rewrite some of the posts I’ve had sitting waiting and hopefully that will be the start of me being able to regularly blog again!! I’ve also treated myself to a couple of blogging books, I’m hoping that these will help me get back into writing too. I’ve got 22 drafts of part blogs all sat there, some are from the summer holiday last year and some I’ve started more recently hoping to find the inspiration again, but unfortunately none of these have been finished. I will try and work through those, and hopefully find some inspiration for new posts and I’m hoping this will get me back on track as far as my writing goes! We’ll see, I’m going to try anyway and that’s all any of us can ask isn’t it that we give it a go!! I thank those of you who’ve stayed with me, I hope that I can build a few more people too and that you will enjoy both new and finished off posts alike………..So for now I’ll leave you with a few thoughts I’ve had about Autism………..
I told a friend today that I’ve been referred for autism testing and had the same response I’ve had from a lot of people “I wouldn’t say that you’d got autism”. I don’t blame that friend at all, nor any of the others who’ve said it to me, but what I do think is that we need to change is our perception of what Autism looks like or is. It wasn’t that long ago that we thought that autism was either a boy rocking in the corner flapping or “Rainman” the savant autism that gives people special gifts in things. It then changed to being understood that there are different levels or functioning autism from people who are very low functioning to extremely high functioning, to being what it is now which is a spectrum of disorders to which you can sit anywhere on. I say that it was a boy because for a long time people thought that girls couldn’t have autism or that there were very few girls who had the condition. Now we need to start realising too that not only can girls have autism but that, that autism can look completely different to a boys condition. There are a lot more articles coming through to read up on this subject, but the official data that a lot of assessors are working from is still based on males. This is simply because there is not the evidence and amount of data to show how girls present differently, yet……….and that’s the key word here, yet, because the more girls that are referred and tested and even adult females too the more data and evidence there will be to show how many differences the sexes can have when it comes to Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
There are a number of differences that can show up between the genders, but one of the biggest ones is how much more we (as girls or women) can hide; mimic and fit in with our peers. I don’t know if it’s that girls simply can do this better than boys or that boys and men don’t want to or can’t do this (on the whole, because no one person is the same and it is only a generalisation as this is based on knowledge of a gender in general not total as there are boys who can hide and fit in and girls who have what is seen as more typical autism) but it seems that as women we are able more to be able to hide our struggles. I for example don’t fit what is considered to be typical for autism, but what people didn’t and haven’t seen (or not many of them as close friends and family have seen this and help me with this all the time) is that after a day at school I wanted to be alone. I could hold my constant overwhelming sensory overloads in for just so long but then wanted to close down or be just with people who I could be myself with. My overwhelming need to fiddle manifested itself in crafts, in small idiosyncrasies like chewing my school jumpers or rubbing my lips with toggles or whatever part of the top I was wearing felt best. Looking back there have been signs that I may have issues, but I just kept them to myself because I just didn’t realise that others didn’t feel the same as me or that I was weird and no one would understand it. I haven’t been diagnosed, and if I’m not then these traits may just turn out to be just that but if I am I might finally get some answers as to why I’ve found things so hard for so long. Now this isn’t the only difference, there are a number of them and a good article that I found that explains some of these is “https://www.autism.org.uk/womensday”
You see it’s that girls can present completely differently to boys. It’s a new way of thinking about autism, but one that is slowly being highlighted. There have been a number of programmes on the tv and that lady who was in “the jungle” (sorry don’t watch and can’t remember their name) have shown some of these differences. If we can keep highlighting and explaining why we’re so different in how we are affected by this perhaps we can change perceptions and show that autism is so different depending on who is affected.
Another myth about autism I’d like to share with you is actually one that I used to believe myself, it is only through reading up on the struggles I have and my condition that I have actually understood this one. This one is “that we are all a little bit autistic”. Yes I used to believe this one, because I was told this one!!! But while some people might have autistic traits, that does not make them a “little autistic”. There is no such thing, you are either autistic or you are not there is no in between. You can have sensory processing disorder, or OCD which some autistic sufferers have but these are specific conditions and do not mean that you can say that you are a little bit autistic. It does mean that you can say that you have SPD or OCD, or some of the other conditions that are either present or similar to things that autistic people can struggle with.
There are many myths about Autism, and many barriers and attitudes to change. It is only by opening the dialogue and starting to understand that different people can have autism and that everyone is affected differently, that we will start to understand and maybe even embrace these differences.