Tag Archives: girls

Trying to Explain Autistic Adults at the Dentist – We Blend In Better Than Autistic Children

I had a dental appointment this morning, a semiannual cleaning that takes a lot out of me due to my sensory sensitivities.

Up until this point I’d never fully disclosed my Autism to my dentist or the hygienist who cleans my mouth. In the past I’ve mentioned light sensitivities, high pain tolerances, and poor body temperature regulation (partial disclosure) but never used the word Autism.

Today, because part of my new years mission is to spread more Autism awareness, I told my secret.

I should be used to the responses people give my by now, but for some reason they always catch me off guard – “I never would have guessed. We have Autism in our family – nephews (young people). You hide it well.”

Even more I hated myself for my response to the comment. All I could think to say as I stood dumbfounded was “thank you” and I hated myself for even speaking those words.

My Autism is not something that I want to hide. I am not ashamed of being Autistic because I know that Autism makes me who I am.

I continued to share that “as I’ve grown up there are tricks that I’ve picked up along the way, allowing me to blend in and more easily manage in society. I have worked very hard to get to where I am now.”

In my mind we shared some understanding in that moment. I like to think that I was not dismissed as misdiagnosed or lying because often people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m Autistic.

There was so much more that I wanted to tell – how I meditate constantly and practice mindfulness to keep my anxiety under control. I wanted to share that me passing is a lot of work.

So much to say when you have metal tools in your mouth. There was no good time for further elaboration but I hoped for understanding of how hard it was for me to sit still while they probed around in my mouth.

Finally, as an adult, I am able to force myself (with great mental effort) to sit still through the entire dental cleaning.

At first glance it may appear as if I am calm and still but the reality is something far different.

My heart is racing and my hearing is fuzzy. As I lay flat on the dental chair my body is tense and I am pressing myself down with every muscle in my body, attempting to melt into the chair so I do not run away.

I wear sunglasses to block out the light and ear plugs to dampen the drills but still the excessive unpleasant physical contact is an assault to my senses.

Somehow I always manage to push through these draining experiences.

By the time I get home my head is pounding and my mind is fuzzy.

It is still very difficult but now as an Autistic adult I am finally able to get through an ordeal that was nearly intolerable as an Autistic child.

I am grateful for the small accomplishments. Learning to sit still while people touch me took  years of practice, determination, and hard work.

 

#ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #InvisibleAutism #InvisibleDisability

Learning to Say No – The Best Gift I Could Give Myself This Holiday Season

People don’t understand my limits when I feel too overwhelmed at the end of a long work week to go out on a Friday. They take things personally when I decline their invitations.

I used to get caught up in upsetting them. One one day, like a light bulb, I realized that I was not responsible for their feelings.

Taking on too many things is not good for my health. Social activities, although enjoyable, are very tiresome to me especially if they take place in a busy environment.

I may choose to stay in, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to go out.

I’ve learned that limiting activities that drain my brain, especially during and around busy work weeks, is something that I have to do. If I don’t conserve my energy at home, I won’t have the energy to do my job.

My job can be stressful but it’s actually a very fun job and I enjoy it.

I always want to be fresh and ready to do my best at work. That means taking care of myself – mentally and physically, eating healthy, and getting plenty of rest. I need to be sharp in order to work.

I have to say “no” to people. Some people get tired of hearing “no” over and over.  I’ve lost friends over this. It sucks to loose friends but my health has to come first.

Why do our parents teach us that “no” is a dirty word?

I think “no” is a wonderfully empowering word. Learning to say “no” has set me free.

No – I won’t do it anymore – not if it’s not good for me.

Learning to say no was the best gift I could possibly give myself this holiday season. This year, I hope that I can somehow give this gift to you.

 

With love and thanks,

Anonymously Autistic

“Anna”

 

Girls & Autism: It Can Be Subtle, Or Absent For Some At Risk — CBS Chicago

Wow – finally some coverage for Autistic women and girls in the mainstream media. Yes – we exist!

The developmental disorder is at least four times more common in boys, but scientists taking a closer look are finding some gender-based surprises: Many girls with autism have social skills that can mask the condition.

via Girls & Autism: It Can Be Subtle, Or Absent For Some At Risk — CBS Chicago

Gender stereotypes have made us horrible at recognizing autism in women and girls — Quartz

Just reshaping something from my news feed because the following is a statement that I could not possibly agree more with. Please see the full article using the link below. 🙂

I would LOVE to know what my wonderful readers have to say on this topic. Let’s chat in the comments section.

via Gender stereotypes have made us horrible at recognizing autism in women and girls — Quartz

In August, the National Autistic Society called on medical professionals to change the way they diagnose women and girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Ever since the term autism was first coined by Hans Asperger in 1944, it has remained predominantly, if anecdotally, associated with men and boys. As a result, women with the condition may be being overlooked, even […]

via Gender stereotypes have made us horrible at recognizing autism in women and girls — Quartz

This Is Me (Aspergers) – Princess Aspien

I was SO excited to find Princess Aspien‘s channel on YouTube. It is super exciting to find such an articulate young Aspian woman who is sharing her story and experience. Her perspective is so happy and positive and we need MORE of this type of happiness and acceptance in this world.

“That’s who I am’ and that’s what I’m meant to be.”

Please subscribe to Princess Aspien‘s channel on YouTube for more great positive videos.

She also had a great video about Autism Service dogs. I do believe that interacting with dogs as a child was essential to my mental development and helped me learn  to connect with this world and feel love.

Pets CAN be great for Autistic children IF they are calm, quiet, and well behaved.

Asperger’s Girl- Stress, How to Manage it & Sensory Toys

Autistic people are marked by their adherence to routine and resistance to change. We find comfort in familiarity.

I like to have a plan and know what is going on also I always try to have stim toys handy.

One of my favorite YouTubers – Anja Melissa has a new video talking about how she manages stress and will deal with transitioning to a new part of her life.

Reb Records – How I Hide My Autism

Reb Records – a beautiful, brilliant, young woman on the Autism spectrum talks about how she blends in as an Autistic woman on the spectrum.

I can relate SO much to what she says about avoiding IKEA, the mall, and Walmart because of the sensory overload.

“Passing” is something that is extremely common among Autistic women. Our disabilities are invisible and we hide them. We manage to get through our day and than crash and burn when we get home and are finally alone. I do this too.

So much of what she says could actually  be my own words – although I can take NO credit for her video.

Please check out Reb Records‘s channel on YouTube and subscribe for more great content.

#SheCantBeAutistic #actuallyAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic

Am I Ready for an Autism Diagnosis?

One of the most common emails I get from readers revolves around one question. People reach out to me asking, “should I get my child diagnosed?” or “should I get diagnosed?”

Unfortunately I can not answer that question.

The decision to seek out an Autism diagnosis is a very personal one and you must search inside yourself and look at your own personal circumstances to decide if getting diagnosed is right for you.

Just because you are not ready to get diagnosed today does not mean you will not be ready to get diagnosed in the future.

I am diagnosed because getting a diagnosis eventually was right for me, but when I first discovered my Autism I was not ready to be diagnosed right away.

At first I was in denial and did not understand Autism. I was not ready to talk to a psychologist because I was still lying to myself that my symptoms were non existent or that there was some other explanation for them. Autism seemed so final I was not ready to accept it.

When I started to think about diagnosis I quickly realized that there was a very limited pool of doctors who were qualified or even had experience with adult women. None of the adult Autism doctors I found took insurance. If you do not live in or near a big city you may be taking a long drive to see a doctor.

Getting an adult Autism diagnosis can be expensive. I’ve had people tell me they paid out of pocket $800-$5000 to get diagnosed. Because a lot of the Autism specialists are out of network, insurance companies will often leave you with the fees.

Before I started reading about Autism and talking to other Aspies I had a hard time describing the feelings and things that were going on inside my body. Reading about Autism was like unlocking a key that let me start talking (mostly typing) about what has been going on inside me my entire life.

I have alexithymia. It is part of my Autism that makes it hard to describe my Autism. I have had to teach myself to describe my feelings because if I don’t consciously ask myself how I feel – I don’t know.  Before I started asking myself this question I never would have been able to explain what I was feeling because people always told me how I was feeling growing up.

People told me the wrong things about my feeling sometimes and because of my alexithymia I believed them. Because of this some of my feelings and emotions got confused. I needed to untangle this mess before I could accurately talk to a psychologist about my Autism.

Once I had finally straightened all of those things out I felt like I was ready for an Autism diagnosis.

I journal a lot and that has helped me tremendously in life. People with alexithymia should write. It helps us work out our feelings.

I took a 10 page paper to my psychologist explaining my life story without using any of the Autism terminology. (Doctors seem to be put off by laypeople who sound too scientific. They think we are up to something when we use big words.)

The doctor tested me and I answered her questions honestly. I was extremely nervous the entire time – afraid she would come back with a wrong diagnosis.

After our first meeting I had time to think on her questions and sent her another five page paper further explaining things I could not express face to face.

The way she had asked about stimming had confused me and I had under expressed how much stimming I actually do. (I need questions asked the correct way or I get confused sometimes.)

If you can get your doctor’s email address or bring in typed papers I would STRONGLY recommend doing so. Because I take in information and do not process it right away, sometimes on the spot conversations are impossible. I made a point to mention this to my doctor.

Tell your doctor EVERYTHING that you have trouble with. Make a list.

Autistic burnout (sometimes called Autistic Regression) is a real thing. All of the sudden all of my childhood sensory symptoms were back and worse than ever. It seems like stress and change can have a huge impact on this.

In the end getting a diagnosis was right for me when I started having trouble coping with the real world.

My diagnosis protects me from liability if I ever have a meltdown in public or have sensory problems that cause confusion. It lets me ask for small accommodations at work – like sitting in a quiet spot with natural light.

Now that I am diagnosed I can ask for things – small things that were refused before – and people are supped to give them to me.

I won’t ask for much. I don’t want to take advantage or draw extra attention. More than anything I just want to be comfortable in a world that was not built for me.

 

 

To the Parent of an Undiagnosed Autistic Girl

Every now and then I come across something that really hits close to home. As an adult women on the spectrum – who was diagnosed late – the following post REALLY stopped me in my tracks.

Anna Nibbs contributor the The Mighty.com shares a passionate letter to “the parent of an Undagnosed Autistic Girl. This could have been a letter to my own mother although I can take absolutely no credit for Anna’s writing below.
Please check out the full post HERE on The Mighty.

Yes, she’s a little on the “quirky” side, but on the whole, she seems to be coping; you’ll just leave things as they are. Besides, you don’t want to “label” her unnecessarily.

Thing is, though, we’re always labeling people.

Clever. Talented. Bright. Inquisitive. Curious. Compassionate. Kind. Funny. Sociable. Chatty. Tomboyish. Earnest. Bookish. Quirky. Eccentric. Precocious. Gifted.

Those don’t sound too bad, do they? Sure, you might be more keen on some of these “labels” than others, but on the whole, there’s not a lot to worry about here.

What about these?

Bossy. Opinionated. Controlling. Aloof. Selfish. Rude. Shy. Anxious. Naughty. Irritating. Antisocial. In your face.

Is it that you don’t want to label your girl, or is it simply that you don’t want to label her as “autistic”?

She’s fine now. She’s coping, as you say. But what about in the future?

As she grows older, other labels might start to creep in.

Withdrawn. Lazy. Lacking in application. Arrogant. Inconsistent. Over-sensitive. Away with the fairies. Disorganized. Teacher’s pet. Uncooperative. Defiant. Difficult. Out of control.

And it might happen that you seek out professional help on behalf of this girl, who may seem to be so brilliant in some ways, but to be struggling so desperately in others. And then, other labels might be used.

Bipolar. Borderline. Obsessive-compulsive. Clinically depressed or anxious. Anorexic. Bulimic. Suicidal.

Some of these will be wide off the mark. Observed autistic behaviors will be wrongly categorized, and a wrong diagnosis applied. And the struggles will continue.

Other labels might be correct. She might feel pain, confusion, frustration, stress, and exhaustion from puzzling over her identity; from trying, or at times refusing, to fit in, in a world which she doesn’t understand and which doesn’t understand her. From the onslaught of overwhelming information and sensory input. From trying to “cope.”

At times she may try to “mask.” And if she does so, sometimes she will do so successfully. And at other times she will get it woefully wrong. And either way, it’ll be stressful to keep up, year upon year upon year.

She might struggle with education and employment.

Or she might still do well in life.

But even if she does, something inside will never feel quite “right.” Something will be missing. The key. The glue. I hesitate to use the words “puzzle piece,” they’re too loaded and emotionally charged for many of us; but perhaps they’re appropriate here. This girl is not the puzzle, but she isn’t getting the full picture. Something that should be identified will not be.

Please check out the full post HERE on The Mighty.

#SheCantBeAutistic

A powerful hashtag (#SheCantBeAutistic) has been blowing up on Twitter this month bringing attention to an issue that I’ve been talking about a lot recently.

I was not diagnosed until I was 30 years old because people thought #SheCantBeAutistic.

They were wrong. I am Autistic and I spent too many years waiting to find that out.

Below are just a few of the reasons that I “can’t be Autistic”.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has a great job.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she pays her bills on time.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she works full time.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has a husband.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has pets.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she is too smart.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she wears makeup.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she bathes.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she is very talkative.

#SheCantBeAutistic – her imagination is rally good.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has feelings.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she knows how to read and write.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she is successful in life.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she seems happy and warm.