Enter into the online autism community and you will come across a lot of posts about how bad it is to discuss ‘female autism’. Hearing this as a newly discovered autistic female in the community, you may feel disappointed to find out that ‘female autism’ is not something those at the front of the movement are not in support of.
Attaching yourself to ‘female autism’ provided you with an understanding of why you were not diagnosed or recognised at a much younger age. This attachment is completely understandable for a personal standpoint. I do however hope this post will start a gentle detachment from autistic gender stereotypes, without destroying the idea of your new-found identity.
I will say though that if you wish to continue identifying yourself with ‘female autism’ you should be able to do without feeling bullied. But I hope you can understand the big picture objectives, and the reasons for moving away from gender stereotypes, to support autism awareness and the neurodiversity movement.
Although I call my self-advocacy platform “Women On The Spectrum”, please do not misunderstand me, and think that I see autistic women differently from autistic men. I do not discuss female autism versus male autism, but I may touch on the topic when talking about an initial discovery of autism.
I see autistic women as different from one another. And I see autistic men as different from one another.
Most peoples understanding of autism is based on the stereotypical male type. In the process of revolutionising the perception of autism, we have been pushed to the extreme. And, a lot of talk about ‘female autism’ emerged. It was part of the process in breaking away from the belief that autism is the ‘extreme form of the male brain’.
The research into ‘female autism’ has positively instigated the understanding of how autism can appear differently to the stereotype. However, the problem with linking traits to gender is that some males may relate to the ‘female autistic traits’ but are not identifying because of the gender difference.
Now, we are trying to move away from autistic gender stereotypes and instead move towards understanding the full spectrum of autism. There is not one male stereotype, and there is not one female stereotype. Just like neurotypicals, we are also very different from one another.
One response to “Detaching Yourself From ‘Female Autism’: Working towards the bigger picture”
You’re right about there not being one type of ‘male autism’ or ‘female autism’. If there was, I wouldn’t have had to wait until I was 60 years old for a diagnosis. Besides, I’m not convinced that gender is strictly binary, and from my observation of the neurodiversity community, a high proportion of us don’t conform to ‘accepted’ gender expression or ‘accepted’ sexuality for that matter.
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