Meltdowns and how traumatic they are…

Unfortunately like most people on the spectrum meltdowns are a natural part of my disorder. Most of the time they are quite mild and I can pull myself out of them by engaging in wearing my ear defenders or biting myself. Occasionally something triggers me and my meltdowns are a lot more intense.

When this happens I know I’m not going to be able to prevent it. I can hold it off, keep the buzzing and emotions on the inside for a while but eventually I need to let it out, take myself away and just let the meltdown happen or risk it being even worse. When I feel like this I need to put myself into as confined space as possible, pushed into a corner, squeezed between two pieces of furniture. Covering my ears helps but it doesn’t take away the sensations. It’s when it gets like this that it is most embarrassing, biting doesn’t even make enough of a difference, doesn’t ease the feeling of meltdown like it normally does. I hit my head. Either against a wall or something close by and if I can’t do this or it isn’t enough then I will pummel the heels of my hands against my forehead and temples, faster and faster until I cannot take anymore. I cry and cannot stop myself, become in capable of speech. It is a horrible experience. I hate the idea of anyone seeing them. Not because i am ashamed of having meltdowns, I know they cannot be helped but because people don’t understand them. Have terrible perceptions related to them. People think I can not cope or that I am a freak, that these are weird, that it makes me weak.

Once a meltdown is finally over I am physically, emotionally and mentally drained. Even more so when they are as strong as these ones. I can if I need to go right back to whatever I was doing as if nothing happened, if that is what is required of me but once I’m home I will often have another meltdown to compensate for the role i have had to put on and the mask I have had to work so hard to wear.

After I am heartbroken about the fact that my autism has let this happen all I can think about is what the people who know or saw my meltdown think. What are their perceptions of me now? This feels worse when it is around things such as work (very rare) or my fiancé’s parents etc. I spend my life trying to show people how capable I am just for it all to come crashing down around me when a meltdown hits.

Not only is the actual meltdown itself traumatic but the after effects are if anything even more so. The loss of respect, understanding and the way people then see me breaks me inside. I wish the understanding that meltdowns weren’t a character flaw, do not make you a weak person or change the good things about you were better understood. That it didn’t change how everyone around me looked at me.

I really wish I could take back the large meltdowns. Not have the lasting effects that come from them such as the inability to sleep because of processing and worrying, the bruises from where I have bitten myself or banged my head. They lead to a lot of questions, I’m not ashamed because I know why they are there but again I know people see it as self harming when that isn’t strictly the case (yes I have harmed myself but it’s not for the same reasons as self harm)

I just want everyone to know who reads this that I am sorry. Please don’t think any differently of me. I am still a capable and strong person. I am still me. Don’t focus on this one moment. Remember all the times I haven’t had a meltdown, and that autism is something I have to live with everyday. I battle these feelings all the time.

Struggles with conversations and thinking about my wedding…

The biggest sensory issue for me probably relates to auditory senses. I wouldn’t say I ever even realised it to begin with, its only been as I assess myself that I really see it. Lots of people talking is the worst for me and I hate it. It means I struggle when people are all talking at once, or when voices begin to raise or even when there are just a small group of people all involved in a conversation. The voices constantly changing grates on me, makes me want to cover my ears, tense up and just shut myself away. I hate this because it comes across as I am being rude as I shut myself down. I find myself unable to join in with the conversation and needing to immerse myself in my own things, normally I will start reading or something on my phone in order to help stem the feelings creeping up on me. I hate this! How can I expect people to understand that I am being quitter than normal, or ‘playing’ on my phone because everything inside me feels like pins pricking at me, and the more the conversation goes on the worst the feeling gets until I want to cry, hide away, I get a physical headache from it all and want to stim in order to prevent the meltdown feeling.

What makes this even harder is that I don’t understand why this doesn’t affect me within my job. Children are by far the nosiest creatures going, crying at the same time, just making loads of noise within their play, all over the top of each other and yet this doesn’t phase me at all. This just makes it look like I am making up or exaggerating how I am feeling when I try and describe how noisy adult conversations make me feel. I can’t even say it is something that I understand so how can I expect others too? Maybe its because when I am in work mode it’s a role and a lot of my symptoms drop out and I can deal with situations that in similar circumstances I would struggle immensely with.

Maybe it is the tone or pitch of the noise? Children although higher pitched are somehow easier sounds for me to process than the throb of conversation around me?

During these moments are the times when I really want to wear my ear defenders. For some reason I do my best to battle through and not give in and put them on. Not because I am ashamed of the fact that I need them or anything but because this just adds to how anti social I look and the rudeness that I feel. I don’t want people to think I do not care, or am not interested or engaged in things they talk about, it isn’t about that at all. It just physically hurts. I apologise to anyone that thinks or whom has ever thought that I do not care or am being rude at social events. I would love to not suffer in order to make things look better, to not be an embarrassment or someone that people have to ‘apologise’ or ‘explain’ so that people do not get the wrong idea about me but I appreciate when people do understand after being explained to, not that it takes away my feelings of failing.

All the talking about sensory processing and noise level of conversation has got me thinking about planning my wedding. I had already decided I only want a small wedding, but all of this has cemented it for me, especially for the main ceremony. I don’t mind so much for the evening, its easier in a part mode (which is strange seeing as there are more noises to process…) but the whole attention wont be purely on me and I can immerse myself at that point in the dancing and having fun side of things. I have also realised how hard it is to find a venue that is going to be nice enough, small enough, cost effective enough and mean that I don’t have the hassle of going to different events throughout the day! It’s a good job we aren’t rushing to get married, partly for this reason. To give us time to prepare and find what is right. Then I start thinking on the other wedding issues, such as food. I can be quite fussy with the type of food that I like and am generally quite a plain and simple person when it comes to food but I know wedding food is often on the fancier side and actually this is what people expect…to be fair its not like I am a very hungry person so as long as my partner likes the food then it doesn’t really matter. It’s a lot to think about and take on board. This isn’t something im very good at. Anxiety of actually looking into things and having to go places and deal with all the logistics is difficult for me. I would be fine if I was supporting someone else, or doing it in a work capacity because it’s a role and I can take that on, unfortunately doesn’t meet the same criteria in my brain when it is for myself and I am left battling the over excited part of my brain that wants to sort it and plan it all and the other aspect that shy’s away from all of this and wants to be able to sort it all online with a few clicks. I wish it was that simple!

A few random thoughts of the week…

This week I have struggled to find something to write about. There has been a lot going on in my life recently and I think rather than focusing on one specific  area of my autism I will share a range of the things I have been feeling and thinking about this week.

This week I have decided to share on of the things that I use to help support and focus myself. Writing has always been a tool of mine that I have used to help express myself. The written word is much easier for me than spoken at times, especially during difficult and tricky situations relating to my autism. From an early age I have used this love of writing to create stories, these often draw on areas of my own life and things I have struggled with.

I enjoy the process of writing, it helps me to process everything and begin to understand myself. Writing my blog has defiantly supported me in understanding myself and share my experiences and thoughts.

I am not saying I am by any means a great writer or anything of the sort but I know that I can put a story together. English was always my strong point at school and I enjoyed immersing myself into my own little worlds, this is something that has stuck and adapted to include others worlds, such as movie characters and television characters.

I have created a story which if people who know me look closely enough does incorporate much of my own life into, putting this into a character helps me to show the world through my eyes. Although the character I have written isn’t autistic and has very different life to me it is the subtle aspects which draw on myself, how the character is written and the inner thoughts.

I believe that learning these talents and sharing these is an important aspect of autism. I know this isn’t always an easy fete to see, and depending on where on the spectrum someone lays it isn’t always obvious. Use someone’s interest and focus just like you would do with anyone else. If an interest is in dinosaurs then use this to support and develop, make someone feel good about the fact that there is something they are good at and know inside out. Bring them positives.

Writing is the one thing I can use. My intense focus on Iron Man, the programme Castle etc are not really going to help me with anything in my future, other than to feel better and enjoy myself, but writing is a skill that I can try and use, try and make a difference with.

Secondly this week I have been assessing one of my greatest and worse aspects of my autism. Whatever I believe in is something which I will not let go off. This is great for aspects such as peer pressure as I like what I like whether it fits with the norms of the people around me or not. This was most prominent when I was younger and my interest and love was for the girl band Atomic Kitten. None of my friends were big fans of them or any of the people within my year at school, yet I was obsessed. I didn’t care that my friends preferred different music and change who I am to listen to it. This still rings true today, I like whatever music I like whether it fit with what is expected for my age group or with the people around me doesn’t mean anything to me.

This has meant I am less effected by things such as peer pressure and social norms, which means bullying me about these things has very little effect. I will not change who I am. As I have got older this has also helped with me having and sticking to my opinion and views on things. I don’t stand down on what I think is right. I will fight and fight for what I think, this is great as long as what I am thinking is on par with people around me and is actually the right thing. It can be really hard to change my way of thinking in order to see things from others points of view too though. Not that I won’t listen, I will always take in what everyone is saying but I need evidence or for what I think to be proved wrong in order to adapt. Ina  work sense this is great as I am able to follow rules, policies and procedures in an exact manner. This isn’t so good in my own personal life, for example the evidence suggested heavily to me that I was unable to find love. Mainly because I sucked at the physical aspect as I do not always like being touched and the evidence of my life suggested that no one would be able to put up with this. I am not very good at blind faith when it comes to myself and my life. It didn’t matter how often people would tell me things would get better I just couldn’t see it until it actually happened. Now, now I would advocate at how quick life can change around, how things can go from being at their absolute worse to the very best. I went from being suicidal and thinking I would never have the things I desired to finding the most amazing, understanding and loving man in the world and am now on the way to the future that I have always dreamed of. If someone had tried to tell me this a few years ago (in fact people did) I would have been absolutely adamant that this was not going to happen. I know having a conversation with me when I am being stubborn is very difficult and I would like to apologise for this but I know it won’t ever change. I am who I am in this sense. I will listen to your point of view, but I wont ever truly believe it without the evidence to back it up.

Another aspect that is currently on my mind is my return to majorettes. (baton twirling). This has been an aspect of my life since I was five, and something which I absolutely love and adore. I am not that good at it really, too clumsy and little sense of special awareness but I enjoy the challenge and the focus it gives my mind. I had some problems with being there and peoples understanding of my autism and how things effect me, I felt like I was being bullied etc. This is something that we have tried to develop and work on through a series of meetings, which although quite have the outcome or understanding come from that I wanted it was enough for me to begin thinking about returning and seeing how things go. This is where I am currently. I cannot get over the anxiety enough to go back. How will I know whether my troupe actually want me to come back or not? Are they just doing what they think is right because I am autistic and it would be discrimination to not? How will they treat me? I thought these people were my friends, will they still want to be? Will I be able to get over the anxiety enough to actually join in without my autism getting the best of me and me feeling the need to cover my ears or hide away and immerse? I want to go back, I really do miss it but I am too scared, especially right now with everything going on in my life and how this is all making me feel right now? Like I am already all over the place will returning help or make things worse? I don’t know how to make people understand or show them that I am still the person I was before. I hate feeling like this. Not knowing what to do for best.

Finally this week my difficulty in sleeping has really shone this week. I need things in my life to start settling down and I know that there is nothing that I can do to help with sleep until this happens. It is not a problem with falling asleep exactly, it more comes from staying asleep and stopping the intense dreams from preventing me from waking relaxed or rested. Luckily I am a person who can survive on little sleep without it having much effect on me overall. This doesn’t mean having a good nights sleep isn’t still beneficial for me but it doesn’t shut me down during the day. As long as I stay busy I don’t really think about the lack of sleep I have had until I slow down and stop again.

I have tried things such as sleeping tablets in the past but they do not really have much effect. As I said it is mainly the dreams that get me. They aren’t even necessarily about anything that is happening within my life but they are so intense and realistic, when I initially wake the dreams feel so real and I have to try and assess what is happening, even sometimes throughout the day parts of dreams rush back to me and I have to think about whether this really happened or not, almost like de ja vu.

What is most frustrating with the dreams is that when I first wake I can remember them all clearly and I try my best to hold onto them but of course they begin to fade. This wouldn’t be a problem but they sit just outside of my consciousness throughout the whole day, bleeding into my day with odd thoughts, nudging at my brain but never coming fully back to me. I hate this. I just want to remember them or totally forget about them. I cannot stop thinking about them and then part of my focus is always being pulled towards them, this can last for days if other dreams do not come and overtake. Yeah this isn’t anything major but just something that really bugs me.

My apologies for the randomness of todays blog. Hopefully when things settle I will able to be more cohesive in my posts again and get back to what I want this blog to be. Thank you to everyone who sticks with me and continues to read these, it truly means so much to me. It gives me the platform to be myself and know that I am not alone in the world, that people do care about how the world looks to me too.

Missing you…

The feeling of missing people is one feeling I particularly struggle with. I think that this comes down to how in some aspects, once I have moved on that’s it I’ve moved on. I do not know what to do with the feelings like this. I cannot put into words exactly how it feels and I do not know what to do to make things feel better. How can I take away the feelings I have when I am not in a position to see the person/people?

Right now, I miss my sisters. Until now I have done well with these feelings and not had them bother me too much. Obviously I have missed them and hate not seeing them all the time but I have coped with talking to them, messaging them and knowing that they are happy. This weekend I am feeling it. I think this has been enhanced by the feelings I had within last weeks blog with missing friends.

It has suddenly become real that this will be the first ever Christmas that I will spend away from them completely. I know in theory I could go over to them, but at the moment with me moving into my flat and everything I just don’t think I will be able to afford it this year.

I have spoke to Maddie and Morgan quite a bit and honestly this really helps, hearing what they have been up to and video calling feels like I am with them. I haven’t spoke to Tegan so much. I understand, but I miss her. I miss cuddling up with them all on the sofa, talking about superheroes or school, playing board games and the playstation with them. Even just sitting beside them basking in their presence.

It is not their fault in any way, it isn’t anyone’s fault. I am immensely happy and proud of them, I really really am and I would not want to take this opportunity away from them. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much to do so. I wish I knew what to do and how to process the feelings so that it wasn’t like this. I hate changes in routines and this has been one if the biggest I have had to endure. Just when I think I had accepted the fact that they had gone I am hit with the realisation that I will miss their birthdays, Christmas, I cannot go to school plays.

It makes me want to cry, retreat, curl up and immerse and stim so that I can forget about everything, but then night hits and my head is filled with trying to process it all. Its making sleeping difficult. I think this is also due to the fact that everything is changing right now and I need things to begin settling down. I need to build my routines and normality again so that it isn’t constantly in my mind. I love my sisters so so much, they turned my life around.

Trying to Juggle the changes in my life…

Right now there are some big changes happening in my life. This is a huge thing for me, and I know it would be for a lot of people too. I am weeks away from moving out into a flat with my amazing partner. This is most exciting thing I have ever done.

Ever since I was 16 and I realised how bad things were with my parents and felt like I had to stay from place to place I have wished for a home of my own. The rush of all this is exhilarating and I honestly never believed that I would be in this position in my life. Unfortunately I am a very impatient person when it comes to things like this. If I had my way I would have packed all my belongings up and be beating down the door to our new place to move in. I am really struggling with the waiting of it all, it is such a long process and the problem is they can not give any real time frame for anything. I would be fine if I had something to count down towards but I can’t do this. This makes everything feels even more intense. Everything buzzes inside me and I just want to get everything sorted.

The thing I have struggled the most with is wanting to buy everything for our place. I am obsessed with how I want the flat to be and what things we need. My partner has been more practical about this and wants to wait till we know a date and move in, especially with the larger items. Which totally makes sense I know but I want it all now. I want to know that I have everything ready, be able to set it up as soon as we actually have the chance. I can picture how I want everything in my head and I just want everything to be perfect. This also isn’t practical, to begin with we are better of using the things we already have and then building on furniture once we already in and not to spend all the money we have carefully saved over the past months. Also once we can access space a bit better too and know how things are going to fit and look in the space we have rather than basing all my decisions from the photos and measurements that I have. It will be much better when I can actually see everything where I want it properly. Finally of course ordering when we are in makes most sense as this will be less things for us to have to try and move and fit into the cars. (Yes this has been me convincing myself as much as all of you…)

Then there is the other side of the coin, once the adrenaline takes a moment to lower and I realise what a big change this is to me, to my routine. This will mean I have to create a new routine a new normal. I am prepared for this and know that overall I will be fine but this is going to take some getting used to. I know at some point this part is going to affect me and the autism aspect that doesn’t deal well with change will have something to say about all of this and chances are there will be a moment where I have some level of a meltdown but I know that Justin will be there to support me through this, he will not judge me for this or think he has made the wrong decision by living with me. He will make me feel safe and secure.

He has already discussed that he wants to make the place as comforting and sensory friendly for me as possible. This is how much he knows me and accepts me. This is part of how I know I will spend the rest of my life happy with this man.

Other things that are changing in my life is my ability to juggle everything and everyone I care about. As much as I absolutely love Justin and our amazing life together and I wouldn’t change a single aspect for anything but trying to make time for everyone else that I care about has been difficult. Most of this comes down to not Justin himself but the way that I am and process everything. I like to know exactly what is what. The routine of everything. Therefore I have an annoying habit of everything in my head needing to be planed in advance. This means if Justin has already said about dinner for certain days then I will struggle to adapt and arrange to meet up with others. Not because I do not want to see them because I absolutely do so so much but trying to change things round in my head feels very messy and mixed up and I cannot turn my thought process around, resulting in anxiety with the fact that I cannot make everything work or figure it out.

When making time to see others I will plan it in advance so I know what is happening, even this can sometimes cause anxiety because it breaks routine. I like routine so very much. Therefore if I could plan to see certain people on certain days every month for example the first Wednesday of the month or every other Saturday and stick to this routine then everything would be much easier. Unfortunately this is not how other people live their lives and I could never expect them too. I don’t know how to fix this though or to make this work and I hate it. I do not know what is best. I hate that I feel like I am loosing the other people who are close to me because my autism means that I cannot handle trying to change the routine of everything. This makes me feel like such a failure. It is not difficult to plan things week by week. Day by day even, but even if I do not have anything in particular planned and someone asks me in the morning if I would like to meet up with them I still battle with myself and cannot bring myself to do it. Because it wasn’t planned in advance. It wasn’t what was supposed to happen on that day. Even if this means that I sit and do nothing spectacular I struggle to change the plan of well doing nothing. This whole thing probably makes very little sense, I am trying so hard to try and articulate it but it can be so difficult at times to show people, to get them to understand that I am not just being stubborn or melodramatic or un caring in any way, in fact it is the opposite in some ways. I am overthinking, trying to keep everyone happy, struggling to understand how to fit social norms in a world where I know my way of thinking is frowned upon and seen as a derogatory way of dealing with situations, anxiety that is crippling and end up hating myself for the fact that I cannot just handle this like everyone else seems capable of doing.

I am hoping when I move into my flat that this will be much easier for me to mange too. I will not have to feel like I need to split my time between everyone quite as much as I do now because the end routine will still be the same. At the end of the day I will still be going home to the same place, to see Justin. I will not have to feel guilty about missing an evening with him and therefore not seeing him as often. I will be able to just pop out and know that things will be exactly as they should be and need to be when I return. I only need to adapt one aspect of the day rather than negotiate what feels like my whole live, Justin can do dinner for himself because the food will already be in the house and we can use it another day rather than the fact that we get dinner in now and I feel guilty if we don’t stick to the routine of what we have planned, for his sake as well as my own. I will not feel like I am splitting my time with him because I know he will be right there when I return. Again this possibly makes very little sense but its how my brain is currently dealing with and processing everything.

I apologise for the mis match of this weeks update but if anything this shows just how much my brain currently buzzes with everything that it is dealing with and how and why I sometimes respond how I do, and I would like to say these are the only things that it is processing but there is even more that I haven’t touched on as I could go on forever and well that would not make for great reading.

Seeing the world differently can make things hard to understand…and make it hard to like me.

This week has really hit home to me how seeing the world so differently can make me feel. There are times in my life that seeing the world from my perspective is a positive and allows me to deal with things differently. It has helped me to get through issues such as my childhood and I believe allows me to be the practitioner I am at work, who will do anything for the children within my care and always give my best to them.

Then comes the time where seeing the world differently makes everything so difficult and so hard to understand. Knowing the right thing to say or do and the uncertainty of how overs will take what your saying or doing and judge you.

I give everything to the things I care about and that isn’t always a good thing. I will stand up for what I think is right even though it gets me in trouble or causes more issues for myself. I know some may say this is good as I stand up for what I believe but it isn’t always good. For starters I can be seriously stubborn in my beliefs and views and struggle to see others points of views when my head is set on something. This means that it can be hard to get through to me and rationalise with me or help me see the others point of view no matter who is wrong or right. Once I come to a decision there is a very good reason I have reached it so trying to turn me around on it is near on impossible. I am not by any means saying I am always right but I usually have a very good reason for feeling or believing what I do and getting me to see otherwise is a difficult task.

I’ve been told that this makes me a very difficult friend. That I can bring people down and it can be hard having conversations with me and support me whilst I am in this mindset. I do not know how to take this. I cannot change how my brain works. I have tried in the past before accepting myself. I am sorry that I am difficult in this way. I really am. I have spent my whole life scared to be honest and talk about things because I was afraid of how people would take what I am saying and that they wouldn’t understand me, I guess I have always known I don’t see things the same as others, neuro typical’s,  even before my diagnosis. For years I strived and pretended, mimicking behaviour and trying to fit in, unsuccessfully and couldn’t fathom why I just couldn’t be like the people around me. Why I found it so hard to understand them and why I couldn’t let go of things or dealt with things the way I do. It still makes me sad that I can be this difficult. I do not do it on purpose or to make things harder. It’s the only way I know how to be. It’s the only way my brain works.

Secondly, I expect others to be the same. I stand up for my friends no matter what and I get very upset if they wouldn’t or don’t do the same for me. Not because they don’t care but because they look at things from every angle, every aspect. Can see both sides of a story or think of the consequences and do not want to get themselves into trouble or make the situation worse for themselves. I cannot do that. I don’t think or care about the consequences at the time. I will stand up for them, say my piece if I need to and then end up taking the brunt of it come back at me. For example there was a time where online someone’s partner but a comment on about my friends children. It wasn’t anything major and could have just been ignored to not cause any further issues and in fact this is what my friend decided to do. I couldn’t do this. I was outraged and had to make a comment. I was not nasty or mean or anything but I couldn’t just let it slide and I would do it again in a heart beat even though I was the one that then got moaned at.

It is exceptionally hard to put this into words without naming particular occasions and I wouldn’t want to people to feel names and shamed because that is not what this is about. It is not about going through and saying all the times where I thought people could or should have stood up for me more or anything it is merely about explaining my side of life and how difficult this particular social aspect can be for me. I have been taught that you do anything for those you love and care about and that they always come first and you should stand up for them…yet apparently this isn’t always appropriate or the right thing to do or way to go about things. How am I supposed to understand the grey area in between and know when I should do or say something and when I should just let something slide?

This week I am feeling negative about this aspect of my autism and that makes me angry too. I know its who I am and that I am striving for autism acceptance and hating myself feels like I am letting myself down but it also highlights just how difficult autism can be. I am not raising awareness because I think that everyone should change their way of thinking to my way, or anything like this. I am raising awareness but it is important to understand and acknowledge how difficult and trying everyday life can be for someone on the spectrum, and the things that you find annoying about them may be the very things that they are battling hardest to understand. ],(o.__

Autism in females…

Obviously this whole blog so far has been about Autism in females in a sense, as I am female but I believe it is important to understand and accept how different autism can present when you are female, or even higher functioning if that’s what you want to call it.

Even though autism is more widely accepted or understood now than what it ever has been before there still seems to be missing or fear in diagnosis in those who don’t scream autism just by looking at them. For those whose signs are less obvious or are better at masking certain aspects. There seems to be a fear within society that suggesting a child or adult may need support when the condition isn’t clear to diagnosis will cause more issues, or upset to the person and the families. As a person who was not diagnosed until adult hood I can assure that although there may be some resistance, denial or anger to begin with in the long run that early intervention is much more important than worrying about what a diagnosis may be or what the families may think or how they may act. It should be easier for these discussions to happen without nurseries, family members or professionals worrying about. I believe that this comes down to peoples understanding and knowledge especially when I comes to conditions such as autism.

Lack of knowledge on the different ways which autism can present itself often make it difficult for people to see or acknowledge some of the signs and can often lead to misunderstanding, thinking someone is merely withdrawn, have behavioural issues etc. I believe this is seen much more with females. More education needs to be given on how autism can present itself within females and the importance of noticing these early signs to allow for the early intervention which will allow support needed to be given, to prevent them growing up in a world where they do not feel understood like I have. To me this isn’t even about the importance of having an actual diagnosis, at the end of the day a diagnosis although an important thing for me, for many is just a word. It is more about the support and understanding for that person than the title of a diagnosis. Therefore even if you do not want to make the call on an autism diagnosis it is important that support is still in place. Ignoring the issue will not make it go away and will not make it any easier for the person to learn, progress, and feel accepted in this crazy world.

I began this as a way of expressing myself but would love to be able to use my experiences and my knowledge to help educate others on how autism presents in females. The lack of knowledge and information in regards to autism in the female population amongst professionals means that many have and will continue to slip through the cracks. I would love to go into schools and nurseries to help promote this understanding and to support families with noticing signs.

I think one of the most important things to remember is that girls will often mask signs and symptoms and are much more adept at imitating others, especially within social situations. As this social aspect is such a huge aspect of an autism diagnosis, it can therefore be more difficult to see the struggles females have in social situations. Girls often want to be more social and therefore understand the benefits of social interactions and often mimic behaviour of the people closest to them. This doesn’t take away the difficulties they have and how understanding different social cues is still a battle. This often results in signs of anxiety and/or depression and with a diagnosis relating to this or personality disorders being given. This was certainly the case for me and then I felt like a failure when none of the medication, treatments or therapies worked for me.

Other signs include:

  • The obsessive and immersive nature I have discussed before, from a young age this can present as obsessions, collections and organisations over toys as well as characters.
  • Toys being friends. Having relationships with cuddly toys for example. Talking with them, creating little worlds and repeating and playing these games over and over.
  • Many people assume that people with autism have a lack of imagination due to the rationality of the way their brain works. This isn’t the case at all. Especially in females on the spectrum. In fact it often can be the case that their imagination is ‘too much’. They become a character for an extended period of time, staying within this role all day at times. Girls will often have a very active imagination, loving mystical and magical books and characters. They may also have imaginary friends. For me I would talk about my ‘family’ and ‘children’ that I had from my imaginary games. I could talk about these as if they were real.
  • It is not always the case that we don’t like physical touch (although this is often true at times.) Sometimes the sensory issues can mean that we seek tight hugs, can be needy in being close to others, often not respecting boundaries and for example standing too close.
  • High functioning girls often immerse themselves in books and reading. For me this was due to these worlds being easier to navigate, expected to be immersive. I especially love books that come as a series so I can become part of their world, or fanfiction about characters I am obsessive over.
  • Females can be very emotional. They often have great empathy but lack the ability to deal with all these emotions.
  • Finally, we can be social. Especially due to the ability to mimic behaviours but following this may isolate and need a lot of time alone. Sometimes I just need me time, even if I feel lonely. I can want someone to be with me but need them just to be there and let me be myself, not too close to me, not talking to me too much, just being around.

I hope that some of this gives a greater understanding. I think it is important that we prevent as many females slipping through the cracks as possible. No, it may not seem as bad as how others on the spectrum but it doesn’t take away the struggles that we do have. In fact people have a higher expectation on you to be ‘normal’ respond like neurotypicals do and people tend to have a lack of empathy towards our feelings and reactions during situations. This needs to change. Do not take away the difficulties that I have just because I do not look ‘autistic’. I can assure you I am!