Here's the link to the interview:
Here's the link to Learn from Autistics:
Always a pleasure and always humbling to share my thoughts with others on or off the spectrum. Learn from Autistics has a really nice platform for autism self-expression. I encourage you to check them out!
Here's the link to the interview:
Here's the link to Learn from Autistics:
They told my mom she was overreacting and that I was a bad, spoiled kid even as an infant. Doctors, family and friends said my poor behavior was her fault.
So we struggled.
I fought to comprehend a world that was painfully loud, busy, bright and unpredictable; one that failed to follow through on even the simplest of promises, communicated in foreign customs with a frequency that my literal, logical aspie mind just could not understand. And despite my best attempts at reason and efforts to please everyone in my midst, I was nearly always deemed wrong, a brat, an annoyance and a dim-wit of sorts by family, peers, teachers and doctors.
My family attempted to understand the rigid, withdrawn, seemingly aloof alien in their household who threw fits when schedules were altered, avoided physical affection and spoke in monotone cadence even as a toddler when speech first acquired.
Despite a daunting two-year stay in an institution during my preteen years where my passion for running was born, high school graduation was achieved followed by a college degree, a career in education and service in our United States Peace Corps.
After three decades I learned that such a thing as autism exists and nearly a decade later I received my unequivocal aspie diagnosis.Today, roughly eight years enlightened, I bear no bitterness and am truly grateful for the gifts I possess, experiences gained, knowledge acquired, achievements made.
Nevertheless, the difficulties endured and scars that remain from so many misunderstandings and so much lack of insight, I would never wish upon any individual or their family unit.
On March 17, 2015 I published my first book, Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome: 100 Lessons to Understand and Support Girls and Women with Asperger's. The book is short enough to read in a day, while full of valuable information for males and females, old and young, parents, professionals, families and anyone willing to learn, Aspies and neurotypicals alike.
Thank you for reading my story and for supporting efforts to help bridge the gap between autism awareness and a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder including signs and symptoms specific to the female expression.
Six Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome can be purchased from Amazon, Kindle, Nook, iTunes and Smashwords. To learn more about my book, myself, presentation availability and direct links to purchase, please visit http://www.growingupautistic.com/tracey.html or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Someone might have autism if she...
Please note this is a 'might have autism' checklist. Nothing is official until a well trained professional in the field of developmental disabilities completes a thorough assessment.
I've long been an independent / loner who prefers solitude over groups. For years now my counselor has been encouraging me to get out in the world and play well with others. Yikes. That's a tall order for someone who is happy being in my own world, and a bit reticent to put my foot in the path of others. It's always been easier for me to relate to (and trust) animals, nature and my own mind. I know how to look like I'm enjoying others and indeed, sometimes I do! But if given a choice, chances are high I'm going to want to be alone, even in the midst of crowds, museum tours, restaurants, athletic events, shopping... you get the point. My counselor asked me to consider the effects of my behavior over the long haul. He asked me if this loner lifestyle was truly healthy for my mental and physical growth as I enter the last lap of life. Research does indeed show that as we age, it is important to have community, human touch, and connections. Apparently our brains and our bodies need one another even if only to shake a hand, exchange a greeting or give a high five. Those tiny behaviors aren't difficult for me to do, I just don't think about doing them that often. So... I made a decision this summer to put myself out there and join a group within which I felt I'd have a halfway decent chance of being accepted; a group I thought I'd enjoy. Seven weeks ago I joined a rowing club in my hometown. I love it. The people are kind, helpful and joined together by a common love for the sport of rowing. And therein lies the sweet spot. Tony Attwood has long told our community it is often easiest and most effective to belong to groups that share a liking for a passion. In those groups, personalities fade in comparison to the talk of the event, the sport, the creating of whatever it is we like. As per his usual, Dr. Attwood is correct. In rowing, we talk about rowing. The dialogue doesn't flow into politics or religion or what we do for a living or if we're married or anything really beyond- how do I get a good stroke, how do I hold the oar properly, or should I pop this blister now or wait until it calluses on its own!
My new enjoyment in an activity that brings people together around individual abilities mixed in with a group effort, is turning out to be grand. Until now, I've only shared a love for socializing around the horse world. Now, I can add a love for rowing, too. And in these two events, I find community that doesn't require me to give up who I am, pretend to be 'normal', or fake my way through. At almost 57 years old, I can unequivocally say, I am having fun and I am learning that indeed, some socializing with human beings can be advantageous to my mind and my health.
I encourage you to find something you like that is not computer bound (eek! Scary, I know...) rather it be quilting, swimming, birdwatching, collecting stats for sporting events, working with animals, rowing- anything you like - and see if you agree you can connect to and enjoy a new layer of life without exhausting your stress level or your individuality.
I lived for 23 years with no idea of the condition I had in my brain. That condition was Asperger’s Syndrome. I battled through my life with a number of separate psychiatric labels, each representing only small parts of my difficulties: Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, Depression... you get the gist. To be given the label of Asperger’s eased my inner conflict massively; I finally had an umbrella term where all these difficulties could make sense.
It is fair to say that my ‘special interests’ are centred more on people than things. One of the ways I have learnt to cope with my impairments is to monitor others around me, and learn how to ‘fit in’ through imitation. As I have gotten older this has moved into the more complex realm of Psychology, and understanding why people behave the way they do. I figured people are no different really to learning how to use a computer; we all have inputs and outputs. I tackle my own thoughts, feelings and behaviours with the same sort of obsessive rigour as scientists trying to find a particular vaccine in the midst of a pandemic, which is how I ended up doing a PhD studying autism in females.
I wanted to know if I was alone, why it took me so long to get a diagnosis, and how I had managed to adapt so well socially despite my impairments. What I have learnt so far is that there are hundreds of females out there in the same position as me, all wonderfully unique and kind human beings with bucket loads of empathy; not what the media teaches us autistic individuals look like! It can be tiring being so personally invested in the research that I am doing, it feels like I cannot get away from autism; at work, at home, it is present in everything I do and think. It also requires a certain amount of stepping back and objectivity, a skill I am perhaps yet to master fully. The condition lends itself to quite an egocentric perspective, so I am having to consciously think ‘can I really speak for everyone here?’ and learn about the different experiences other people with autism have had.
Whilst the majority of feedback I have received from the work has been positive, it appears you cannot become too big on the internet before trolls start attacking you, which has been the hardest hurdle to face (including all the research ethics forms I have had to fill in!). Being told by people who do not know you and have only read an article that you are a fraud and cannot possibly have the condition hurts, especially when you came to the club quite late and have lived with those doubts all your life. If the research was not so personal to me then perhaps I would be able to take these knocks on the chin, but that is the nature of the beast.
Overall doing my PhD on my own condition has opened up many doors for me, in understanding myself and those around me. From this work I created my own blog (www.aspertypical.com) and a group specially dedicated to women on the spectrum. I think it is vital that more research on autism is led by autistic individuals, as challenging as it may be for us to conduct I think that personal perspective within the research is paramount to understanding the condition.
PhD Student / Research Assistant / Associate Lecturer
Grad Soc Digital Marketer (2014 - present)
Anglia Ruskin University,
Faculty of Science and Technology, Psychology Dept.
Research Gate Profile / Linked In Profile
Author of www.aspertypical.com