August 14, 2015

One thing not mentioned and often brushed aside is the need and want for acceptance and friends in girls who are autistic.

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.

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About the author 

Emma Dalmayne

Emma Dalmayne has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome along with Synthanesia. She has six children on varying degrees of the most spectrum so easily. When she is not writing exposes as an autistic advocate, her days are spent doing sensory play, reading, outings, and taking them to therapies e.g. play therapy, music therapy, speech, and language.

  • Very important article. If we are supportive and vigilant to our autistic daughters we will stop another generation of victims.

  • I was diagnosed with Asperger at the age of 17 but received no information and proper help until I was 21…When I was 18 I got my so far only boyfriend, and it took me 6 months to become comfortable enough around him to let him touch my stomach on top of my clothing. We were, dare I say, extreme Christians at the time, and so sex was out of the question. I enjoyed being with him, but I never experienced any sexual desire with him. I tried fantasizing about him to no avail. He ended up dumping me with the sentence: “It’s your diagnosis that has gotten too tiresome, but it isn’t your fault.” I’ve been single for the past 7 years whereas he got married in January.
    All my life I’ve heard “because of your situation, this will be difficult for you….” and “this is tricky for you because of…” . Never did I hear anyone tell me I could do it. That I was talented. That I was beautiful. A friend praised me for having “managed” to stay a virgin for so long. My answer was: “It’s easy as long as you hate every inch of your body and also know that you crave physical contact but at the same time is terrified of it.”

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