Autism Spectrum Disorder: a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior.
Asperger’s syndrome was renamed under the umbrella diagnosis of the autism spectrum disorder. Because autism was thought to be 3x more common in boys, (that ratio is changing) the diagnostic criteria is more focused on the way their traits present. Research has shown there is bias in the way autism is diagnosed in girls. Autistic females who are highly intelligent and more adept at mimicking social behavior often fly under the radar and may not get a correct diagnosis until adulthood, if at all. Read more:
Neurodiversity is a concept that neurological differences (such as autism) are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome. The neurodiversity movement strives to bring understanding and acceptance to all those with neurodevelopment differences that diverge from those considered typical.
At age 30, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, (the Asperger's variation.) Because traits present differently in girls than they do boys and because girls are better at masking their symptoms, we often fly under the radar and are misdiagnosed. It was always this great mystery and secret shame in my life, why I couldn’t seem to function at the level of my peers. By middle school, I became self-conscious of the rejection I felt from others and became severely depressed. I was hospitalized and sent away to lock-down residential treatment facilities in my teens for emotional and behavioral problems. It wasn’t until seeing a therapist and psychiatrist years later that my hypersensory issues, intense fixations (special interests,) scalp picking (as a means of stimming,) social impairments and other difficulties managing my life led to my current diagnosis.
Since my autism diagnosis, I’ve felt so much relief from the pressure I put on myself and have been able to adjust my life to suit my needs. I no longer feel defective because I know now that I’m just wired differently. The neurodiversity movement has been a huge source of esteem for myself and others and instagram has been a great way for me to make social connections without the anxiety of face-to-face communication. I am thankful for both and hope to spread awareness to correct the gender bias of Autism diagnosis that leaves so many girls to struggle the way I did.
My first interview talking about autism
COWIN SE7 - these are helpful in canceling out low frequency sound and can also be used to listen to music.
VIBES High Fidelity earplugs - I carry these with me everywhere and use them often in public places that are overwhelming and noisy.
Large Electric heating pad - could not live without!
The perfect pink velvet and sherpa weighted blanket.
My favorite twinkling fairy lights in a blue, yellow, white, pink and green sequence provide a calming atmosphere.
Doc Miller Compression sleeves - these are cute and functional. They help my coordination and reduce the feeling of restlessness and need to stim.
· Highly sensitive, anxious, can feel overwhelmed by environment and socializing
· High intelligence, analytical with an extensive vocabulary
· Good at giving the appearance of social success but struggles to understand and maintain it
· Repetitive movement/behavior that can be well hidden, as “masking” helps them fit in
· Preference for fixed routines and rituals
· Intense special interests that can change over time, they have extensive knowledge of certain subjects, often used to escape from stress
· Disorganized or poor eye contact, which can also be “masked” when trying to fit in
· Can have a history of changing jobs, majors in school, changing friend groups
· Often perceived by others as shy, quirky, odd and unique
· Can have family members on the spectrum
· Sensory processing difficulties can appear as both:
o hypersensitivity to light, noise, smell and other senses
o hyposensitivity and sensation-seeking
· Poor proprioception, clumsiness, accident prone
· Stimming (self-stimulating repetitive behavior) especially as a way to redirect self from uncomfortable sensations can appear as fidgeting, leg bouncing, skin picking, massaging self, swaying when standing, humming, cracking knuckles, biting lip, tensing muscles, viewing visual stimuli and many more
· Sensitive to certain fabrics, tags and has preference for comfortable rather than fashionable clothing
· Need to be in control of environment: adjust lighting, volume, etc.
· Hypersensitivity to medications, caffeine, drugs/alcohol
· Hypersensitive to certain foods and prone to food intolerances may make them a picky eater and cause GI problems
· Often seen as shy and introverted in an uncomfortable setting but can be bossy with a need for order and control in a comfortable setting
· Preference for one-on-one social interactions
· Too honest and lacking awareness of social rules
· Difficulty detecting lies or motivations of others
· Difficulty relating to others or seeing from their perspective
· Trouble interpreting nonverbal communication
· May adopt alternative personas, a chameleon who changes personalities according to social setting
· May identify someone who is popular as “socially successful” and try to mimic their behavior, clothing, body language, interests, etc.
· Naivety, socially immature, acting younger than age, vulnerable to social/sexual abuse
· Difficulties with conflict resolution: will people-please as a way to avoid conflict and prone to “burning bridges” as a way to escape conflict
· May prefer friends younger or older to peers their own age, taking on roles as the “teacher” with younger friends or “student” with older friends
· Intense relationships or friendships, romantic partner often becomes the “special interest,” they may require daily verbal reassurance of their partner’s feelings for them
· May look at friendships and relationships in a transactional way
· May prefer online socializing to in-person and prefer texting to other forms of communication
· May prefer friendships with males, as they are easier to understand than female friendship dynamics
· Physical and emotional exhaustion from socializing, usually needing to isolate themselves and recharge after socializing
· Often anxious and depressed
· May have chronic low self-esteem from feeling different and less successful at life
· Emotional melt-downs or shutting down can occur in response to feeling overwhelmed
· Lacks ability to describe emotions, manage emotions, and read emotions of other people
· Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol and/or self-harm can result from inability to cope with feelings
· Can feel deeply affected by violence and disturbing scenes in media
· Difficulty regulating emotions and trouble in relationships can be misinterpreted and are often misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder & more
· Black or white (all or nothing) thinking
· Ability to focus intensely but can be highly distracted in overwhelming environment
· Autodidactic, has many self-taught skills
· Perfectionistic, great attention to detail but can fail to see bigger picture
· Takes things literally, may take longer to process information
· Challenges with executive function, planning, time management
· Difficulty comprehending certain types of humor like sarcasm, may prefer more obvious, nonsensical humor to other types
· Lack understanding their own identity
· Lack ability to see how they’re perceived by others
Common comorbidities with ASD
· Food intolerances or allergy (11%)
· Respiratory allergies (19%)
· Skin allergies (17%)
· Anorexia nervosa (23%)
· OCD (30%)
· Depression (20%)
· Anxiety (40-80%)
· Sensory processing disorder (40-80%)
· Sleep disturbances (50-80%)
Aspergers in females
Aspergers diagnosis in adults
Could it be Aspergers?