The frustrating thing about getting diagnosed as an autistic woman is, for all the problems that come with being autistic — and a woman — the one step that moves us towards resolution, healing, understanding our past, and successful management of our issues is a diagnosis of autism.
But for some reason, mental health practitioners seem to think they’re doing us a favor by steering us away from it. Discouraging us. Redirecting our attention elsewhere. Or diagnosing us with something “more likely”, given that we don’t meet the male-centric criteria that have become standard-issue measurements for “autistic or not”.
Contrary to popular
opinion prejudice, an autism diagnosis is not something that will hold us back.
It will not necessarily make us seem sub-human to ourselves.
It will not necessarily make us feel more broken.
It will not necessarily make us think less of ourselves.
No, that’s what non-autistic people do. It’s a classic case of a narcissistic, neurotypical thought pattern which assumes that just because you think a certain way, it’s normal — and everyone else should agree with you… or they’re disordered.
So many of us already feel that way – sub-human, broken, less than nothing.
But an actual diagnosis which places us on the autistic spectrum… that turns the tables in our favor.
A clear statement that WE ARE AUTISTIC can save us in uniquely autistic ways. It makes it possible for us to find a place for ourselves in a larger context. It lets us fit ourselves into a familiar pattern that’s shared by countless others. We may be all over the spectrum, in terms of our issues and challenges — and that can change within our own individual experience from one day to the next, one minute to the next. But simply having the knowledge that it’s autism influencing us makes all the difference.
It’s not a personal failing, not a character flaw, not ovary-induced stupidity, but an actual condition that affects us specific and global ways… and affects myriad other women in much the same fashion.
An official ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition) diagnosis can actually be the most humanizing thing you can provide to an autistic woman. Because you are actually giving her a powerful tool to understand and address her situation effectively, in her own ways. You’re giving her a pattern to work with. To understand. To study. To analyze. You’re giving a woman who thrives with pattern thinking a conceptual framework within which to place herself and her issues, a point of reference she can use with other autistic women and men… even the non-autistic, neurotypical world.
You’re giving an autistic woman the most important tools of all — information and knowledge which she can leverage to address her own issues. Sensory issues can be recognized and mitigated, thus improving her ability to live her life and possibly minimizing the incidence of meltdowns — a very common source of pain, suffering, and low self-esteem. Social issues can be examined and practiced for. Communication issues can be flagged, and workarounds can be developed. At the very least, there can be some oft-elusive resolution of the years and years of confusion and frustration over things that affected her without her knowledge or understanding.
When you provide an autistic woman with an official diagnosis, you also open the door to community. To support. To knowledge. To hope. To the understanding that she’s NOT deficient, but simply different. And because it’s autism, it’s a thing that can be grasped, framed, approached, named, and accepted as we women accept so many other gray areas in our lives. You open the door to finding community with other women — and men — like herself, who share her same joys and frustrations… and won’t automatically treat her like there’s something wrong with her, like the rest of the NT world does.
If you really want to help autistic women, stop blocking us from putting a name to what lies at the very core of our being. Put reliable, thoughtful, credible autism diagnosis within our reach.
It’s the very least you can do.
We’ll take it from there.