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What My Life Is Like as a Girl on the Autism Spectrum

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When you think of autism you might think of boys who love trains, science or computer games, but girls can have it too. Girls on the autism spectrum can struggle just as much as boys. We need support and our voices to be heard as well. I was one of the lucky girls to be diagnosed at a young age, and my parents have done everything they can to support me.

Girls on the autism spectrum struggle with social situations, but tend to approach them differently than boys. I put on a mask in new social situations. I try to be as “normal” as possible — answering every question, not mentioning my special interest and putting on a polite smile. I don’t know how new people will react to my “quirks,” but the more someone gets to know me, the more I’ll open up.

I’ve struggled for years to make friends. I only have a handful of friends whom I cherish. I pick people carefully, and I’m not what you would call outgoing. Girls with autism like me learn how to script conversations, and we pick up how to mask from a very young age.

When the world became overwhelming for me, I escaped into my imagination. I got lost in another world of poetry and avoiding the outside world. I didn’t have much interest in other people as a teen — my interests and routine were rigid and my thinking was very black and white. The older I got though, I gradually let color into my world. I discovered the world of makeup, another avenue of creativity to explore, but I have never taken to fashion. For some autistic girls, fashion can become a special interest, but for others, there is no appeal. Fashion was confusing for me, hard to keep up with, and if I’m being honest, quite boring. I was surrounded by people who made me feel like labels mattered, instead of wearing what I truly loved.

People still tried to tell me who I should be, though it made me feel disappointed and inferior, plus slightly annoyed. Why couldn’t people just leave me alone to do what I loved?

When I hit my mid-20s I plucked up the courage to join a support group. People were open and compassionate, sometimes sharing their struggles. At this point my life I still struggled somewhat socially, but my overloads/meltdowns were kept at bay from years of experience of coping mechanisms. I made friends at a slower pace, but people made allowances and my new friends viewed me as likable. Making friends and being autistic is not impossible, it just takes hard work and you need to meet the right people. Don’t spend time with people who put you down. I might be in the minority because I am a girl with autism, but it’s made me who I am today and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Getty image by Page Light Studios.

Originally published: January 7, 2020
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