Autobiographical Narratives of Adult Females on the Spectrum
This blog is a sample of soon to be released book entitled “Behind the Mask: The autobiographical narratives of undiagnosed females on the Autism Spectrum”
Over the years I have listened to the narratives of many individuals on the Spectrum. I have interviewed and listened to females, read their autobiographical narratives (a 3-4 page written narrative from their earliest memories until early adult years) and provided support and intervention to them and their families. I have also interviewed and listened to their partners, mothers, fathers, siblings, children, carers and/or their doctors, psychologists and other professionals. Within this unique group of females, interesting themes emerge from their narratives. Briefly, what follows is just some of the many common themes that I have identified within the narratives of the females that I have worked with. Thank-you to the fabulous women who gave permission to use their own words. If you are looking for a fee-for-service assessment or support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Thank-you.
1. A strong feeling of being “different”, “odd”, “weird” or feeling as though they are from another era or planet, and/or feeling like the “black sheep” in my family.
“I have always been trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why I am so different”
- A strong will and sheer determination
“If I want to achieve something I will do it and I’m prepared to put the work and effort into getting it. Nothing will stop me”
3. A lengthy history of therapy, counselling and/or medication.
“I have a history of “labels”, therapy, counselling, group work, you name it. I just had another five labels attached to me…borderline personality disorder, anxiety, some mood disorder, depression, OCD and some more crap therapy, and medication, which has only partly resolved my issues”.
4. Being invalidated, and unheard.
“I have been told I cannot possibly have AS because of my successes, the way I dress, my eye contact, the way I communicate with others, my ability to socialize, my verbal abilities and my intelligence. She said I don’t need any help and was unwilling to diagnose
- Low self esteem
“I have had very low self esteem from very young, but bizarrely I have a confidence to do my own thing”
- A history of being bullied, teased, manipulated and lied about
“I experience ridicule, criticism, humiliation, psychological bullying, and teasing, even towards me by those on the Spectrum. I thought people on the spectrum didn’t do those things. I joined a group of female Aspies. I thought it would be supportive and helpful. I was wrong”
- The experience of education/school
“From the second I was picked up from school (after my first day) right up to the second I finished my final paper, fourteen years later, school was a psychic nightmare beyond any measure, for me”
8. An uneven skillset
“The teacher told my mother that I was emotionally immature. I was exceptionally bright, determined, strong-willed, naive, and intelligent with hyperlexia and dyscalculia”
- I feel very intense emotions in relation to animals, and inanimate objects. By the age of seven or eight I had become so deeply sensitive to any sort of criticism.
“I cannot watch television, listen to the radio or watch violent/horror movies. Being on a anti-depressant has helped me be less sensitive. I need that to cope in the world”
10.Social echolalia, masking and fitting in
“I altered my entire phenotype; my true self was hidden and made invisible, even to my parents. I changed the way I walked, my tone of voice and I practiced smiling at myself in the mirror. I suppressed every urge to express my feelings and beliefs. I still don’t know how I managed it because I am a naturally very emotionally intense human being. I hated people asking me what was wrong, or why I was staring at their lips. I hated myself for feeling so different. I didn’t know why I couldn’t look people in the eyes; all that mattered was that I learn to look normal”.
- A deep love of fantasy and other-worldly themes
“Fantasy was my primary source of satisfaction. It was in the moments that I was alone that I dissociated, escaped into my very own safe little world. My Imagination was my salvation. I had friends, and I lived in nature. Often I was Pocahontas, or a fairy that could fly away. I wrote long, complex narrations about fantastical animals and magical people.
- Finding refuge in animals and objects
“Every afternoon after school I would, to some extent, feel very tired, moody, irritable and/or angry. Human affection could not console me. I rather found refuge in my pets; they were my real friends. I felt that I could trust them to love me unconditionally. There was always only one of them that I could give all of my undivided attention to at any given time. I considered myself the world’s best animal trainer, and handler- except not including human beings. Fortunately, I naturally found behavior a vast topic of interest. I managed to pull off normal, just in time for the school bell to ring signifying ‘home time’!”
- A history of eating issues and/or an eating disorder
“My eating disorder is a way of controlling my life. I have always been picky with food and have huge sensory sensitivities”
- Life is more challenging for me compared to my peers
“I have been married, had children, jobs, a life…but life just seems to be so hard. I often say, “Geez, just living day to day is hard for me.”
15. Years of Searching.
“I spent years searching, looking answers. I joined clubs, groups, religions, group therapy, AA, even a cult. I realized I was really just hoping to find the answer to why I felt so different.
I am Aspiengirl, I am Aspienwoman books and Aspienpowers can be purchased from http://www.aspiengirl.com
Tania is a best-selling author, writer and psychologist. She is available for assessments, consultations (in-person or Skype), interviews and/or presentations at email@example.com
For more information on female Autism/Asperger Sydnrome go to : http://www.taniamarshall.com
Tania Marshall. 2016. All rights reserved. Thank you.
10 thoughts on “Emerging Themes of Autobiographical Narratives by Females on the Spectrum”
OMG, all of the above. I’m so lucky I found you. But yes, I used to like animals but I actually played with younger children. They were the only ones who didn’t pick on me. Have you noticed that? I was 11-12 and my only friends were 7-8 years old.
My 17 year old is always being treated for mental health problems instead of the diagnosed asd. We have been in the system for 10 years now. Can you help us or point us in the direction of someone who can Tania?
I fit 11 out of 12 of these. I never had therapy or counseling, fortu ately for me I think. Now I am in my 40’s run a horse rescue and teach kids to ride as well as kind of managing the farm my rescue is on. I have learned to access my strengths and found a spot where my weaknesses don’t matter. I like myself and wouldn’t want to be “normal” even if I could.
I want to follow your example. I have spent my twenties sufferring the dual hell of struggling to change to be what others insist I should be and failing and then copping bullying or discrimmination.
I was smarter as a teenager, in that I skipped over what I was bad at and focussed on my strengths.
I get quite angry at peope who write me off, or in other ways, focus on my weaknesses making them bigger as a result. I want nothing more to do with that mindless extroverts are superior outlook.
Great article. I know several girls who have struggled with these issues you mentioned and I believe a great deal of them may be autistic. One thing that cliqued was the connection to fantasy worlds and animals and inanimate objects. I can completely appreciate what you said about years of therapy as I know some therapists who would not be particularly helpful to girls with autism, and I found your passage on the inability of human affection for comfort really illuminating. I recently suffered a great loss along with several of my friends and wondered why some people, who know I have autism and know others with it to, did not seem to comfort me, yet now I have an idea why, and really truly appreciate them for sticking by me, even if they don’t understand how the nature of my condition is different from others. I really wish the presence of girls with autism was paid attention to, so they could get help and live more comfortably in their lives.
I relate to all themes listed.
Is somatic anxiety common for women on the spectrum? I notice that I continue to have issues with gut-anxiety and other somatic (nervous system) issues. This leads to a constant state of fatigue (on top of the fatigue experienced from social situations).
Yes! I definitely fit most of these! It is amazing to me how very much we are alike even though we are all so different. <3
It’s like I finally found my tribe ! YES !! I am in AA cause drinking became a huge problem for me . I can hear exceptionally well and my sense of smell is very keen to , My eye sight at night is Better than anyone I know. The really weird thing is when I was drunk all my senses reversed ! I became deaf I had to yell to hear myself, I couldnt smell very well or see as well at night.
Eating disorders were the norm for me . I even joined OA . I do have a sugar addiction that I have to be mindful of .
I don’t really like the feel of makeup or block out I my skin. I use make up for special occasions .
I have hyper-mobility in my whole body . I now have to wear orthotics and lace up shoes 24/7 for the next 2 years . At least I can walk with almost no pain. My history of mobility issues is phenomenal .
I am extremely clever . I can learn anything I want to if I’m interested . My taste in everything is eclectic . I use sewing , crocheting all types of craft as a self soothing activity. Colour and creativity are the center of my world .
I hate shopping centres and I especial hate eating in the food court , I call that space the pig pen .
I enjoy writing stories , I am a trained primary teacher . I was bullied out of my job . At the time I didn’t have a diagnoses and I didn’t fit in the staff room . I am a great teacher I got on very well with my colleagues , but the boss didnt t like me. I’m pretty sure she knew I had ASpergers. She always able to tell me I was a visual learner . But little did she know I can learn anything anyway I like . I do prefer visual though !