What is it like to be a girl, woman or mother with autism?
Note: While we seek to be gender-inclusive always, in the context of discussing autism, it is important to acknowledge that there is a problem with girls and women being under represented in conversations about autism. Because we seek to diminish the male-gender bias barrier, this link and resource page has a female/woman focus....and via it, we hope to create a better resource to help people understand the experience of mothering while autístic.
If you ask experts (or Google) about autism and parenting, chances are you’ll find conversations and articles about parenting children with autism...but you won’t easily find articles about being a parent with autism or neurodifferences.
Furthermore, if you ask the experts (or Google) about adult autism, you’ll likely turn up articles discussing autistic males and their symptoms. Sadly, you won’t find many discussions about how females experience autism, especially in the many cases in which “autistic-wiring” is the only “difference” in a girl or woman, meaning she isn’t “disabled” in more obvious ways.
Why is autism in women so hard to see and talk about?
Because of the burden of appearing “normal” and desirable to be around, girls and women develop coping mechanisms to look perfectly typical yet the energy and preciseness of remaining camouflaged can be detrimental in the long run. Outward behavioral symptoms of a girl or woman with an autistic mind may only ever be experienced by those closest to her. For example, women and girls may have more control of the “stimming” and repetitive behaviors that autism is known for-and only perform them when alone or around close and accepting family members. Instead of publicly hyper-focusing verbally on one topic, they may write or draw about it, take a new hobby to an extreme, or isolate altogether. Women with autism may appear social, and make the needed eye-contact and perform well socially in short bursts, yet feel easily overwhelmed and retreat into “their own world” after social interactions. Sadly, the energy spent on trying to seem “normal” and the suppression of their autistic tendencies can often lead to placing themselves in situations (like getting into overwhelming relationships) that in the long-term creates anxiety, depression, and physical illness. Fortunately, when women are helped to understand what autism looks like for them, and how their unique autistic thinking can be used as a gift, its possible for healing from years of true-self suppression to happen.
How can a parent being autistic impact their parenting and mothering?
While Breastfeeding Housecalls claims no expertise in assessing for or diagosing autism in women (or anyone), we would like to be a voice that acknowledges female autistic minds within the realm of parenting and mothering.
If you have a story to share about how you parent your children while having autism yourself, or if you’d like to share what you wish others knew about how autistic parents experience the prenatal and postpartum seasons, we would love to share your story.
Autism & Neurodiversity
Insightful compilation of what women and girls with autism experience and how they “mask”/adapt:
“The Lost Girls”
What does it feel like to be autistic? https://m.youtube.com/watch?safe=active&v=Lr4_dOorquQ
Autism in Women & Girls: https://www.aane.org/women-asperger-profiles/
Challenges of being recognized as a female with Autism https://researchautism.org/the-autism-dilemma-for-women-diagnosis/
Mothering with Autism
Screening for Adult Neurodiversity: https://rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php