How Autism ‘Awareness’ and the School System Failed My Brother and Me

Wow THIS article by Nora Burritt contributor to The Mighty is AMAZING!

I can take no credit for the article below, although so much of what Nora had to say could be my own words. The little girl below could easily have been me -or a million other invisible Autistic women.

There is a huge problem in the way Autism is treated and how women and girls are being missed . We really are invisible and grow up wondering why we always fall short of others expectations of us.

We wonder why we are not good enough. We wonder why we are different. Eventually when the pressure gets to be too much we implode and find ourselves staring down an official Autism diagnosis – despite all the signs being visible at childhood.

Boys are diagnosed as toddlers. Women are diagnosed in their 20’s and 30’s (or older). I know a woman who was diagnosed at 68. We NEED to do better. We owe it to our sisters and daughters.

There is a photo of me at 3 years old. I am standing in a meadow on the tips of my toes, arms scrunched up like a t-rex, hands blurred from excitedly flapping.“You were so cute!” my family members coo when they pass this photo. These are the same people who look at me and say, “You can’t be autistic, you’re a girl!”

I hit developmental milestones quite differently than others. For instance, I never learned to crawl forwards, I was speaking complete sentences at a year old and reading books by 3. I wasn’t potty trained until I was almost 4 and said to my mother, “I am finished with diapers,” and that was it. I would bolt and hide in clothing racks in stores and cry when my parents made me try something new.

Sensory wise, I was notoriously known for my aversion to dirt, anything soft, loud noises, flashing lights, and many other things. I walked on my tip-toes constantly, chewed apart all of my shirts and gel toys, rocked and spun enthusiastically. I struggled with math concepts to the point where I barely skimmed by. I used to cry constantly in preschool and elementary because I couldn’t regulate my sensory system or handle my surroundings. I was often in the principal’s office because teachers misunderstood me trying to comprehend with me being insubordinate. In middle school, when a psychologist brought up Asperger’s syndrome with my mother, she laughed and called him “crazy.”

See full article here.

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