After growing up in an environment of sensory overloads, teasing and watching the popular girls breeze by with apparent ease it can be especially overwhelming to then begin puberty.
There are changes that are drastic and alarming.
Menstruation begins and the added worry of whether they are developing normally and the compounded fear and insecurity of not ‘measuring up’ to their peers can cause stress and anxiety. Add the impossible airbrushed pop videos and model type film stars most teenagers aspire to look like further compounding how they believe they are ‘meant’ to look and there’s a classic target for males to take advantage of.
Drawing from my own experience I can remember panicking over the right clothes and whether my figure was ‘correct’. After all, the girls have never liked or accepted me. Will I fail with boys as well? I worried I would never have a boyfriend, that I would never find someone to love me. The usual teenage angst but magnified and enhanced by my own low self esteem and dare I say it, my autism.
We as autistic females mimic, we fit in and mostly can go unnoticed.
We try to keep our self stimulating behaviours and meltdowns inside us desperately needing our peers acceptance. This masking is often so complete that after a few hours of quoting popular phrases we have heard others say and emulating gestures down to such minute details like eye rolls and grimaces we leave ourselves in shut down mode.
Some of us go completely the other way, we rebel and dress as flamboyantly as possible confident that we are different and comfortable in our neurodiversity. But what of the girls who crave and have the fundamental need to validate themselves as desirable, wanted and in their view acceptable? These are the girls to be watched.
A girl who has communication problems and has had past experience of bullying. A girl who needs and wants to feel beautiful, normal and in her eyes popular, just once.
One who would feel that if someone wants to touch them, to kiss them and tell them they are pretty and funny would believe it completely. Would fall so deeply in love with this seemingly ideal ‘partner’ that everything including her own health and well being would no longer matter. Without this partner they would not feel valid, complete or needed.