“YOU’RE VERBAL?” Things I’ve Been Told As An Autistic Woman
I have always been amazed when people learn that I’m autistic. I’ve been told that first, I don’t look Autistic. What does that even mean? Does Autism really have a look? I don’t think it does, but apparently, to some, they say there is a “look” to autism. But when I ask, no one can really tell me. The truth is, we look just like everyone else. Then, we people start getting to know me, they realize I have very niche interests and I do mean niche interests: Holocaust Teens and Children & Diaries + Old Hollywood. I know, a very weird combo, but that’s how I am .
When people learn that I am verbal, a lot of them go, “OH MY GOD! YOU CAN TALK!” Like autistic people can’t talk? Some of us can’t, but a lot of us and I do mean the majority of us, can. I can and I’m lucky to. You might also notice that autistic people, like myself, are very creative. We love doing artsy things, which includes acting, writing, dancing, you name it. Some of us have interests that don’t make sense to other people. One interest that I never really understood as an autistic woman, is the fascinating with trains, or Thomas the Tank Engine. Frankly, I usually think that show is for kids right? Well, apparently, autistic people love it? I never understood why? Or why they like trains so much. Somebody asked me if I liked trains and I said, “No.” I told them I love Deanna Durbin, Bonita Granville and the occasional reading of Holocaust diaries. I enjoy that. I am the youngest docent trainee at the local Holocaust Museum. There has been nobody who is my age, and that’s ok. I am their Youth and Diary Historian. So what does that mean? I study the Teens and children and I study the diaries and if they have a question about either, people usually come to me.
Another thing people have said to me is: “Wow! You drive?”
Yes. A lot of autistic people drive. It’s true, we drive! Wow! Surprise!
I drive, but sometimes I get nervous driving in the big city, because there’s a lot of traffic, but I have to suck it up and I have to do what’s best.
Another thing that really surprises people is that I’m employed. Yes, a lot of autistic people are not employed, but I am lucky to work in a place where there are lots of autistic people working there and they are very accommodating, believe me, I love where I work and I would never change it. But sadly, employers don’t know how to handle us very well. It’s hard sometimes for autistic people to get a job: I should know, I was unemployed for a while in 2019, until I got a job. Sometimes work is hard for us, due to long hours, demanding bosses or toxic co-workers .
But sometimes, we change or even lose jobs, because the employer has no idea how to suit our needs. The job I’m at now, is very helpful and they are always encouraging me.
With autism, comes a lot of other issues (like depression, or anxiety) and our emotions are a lot more escalated than most. People say we “have no feelings”. Umm, have they met me? You can’t imagine my feelings when it comes to people. I want to make sure everyone is happy and healthy, while myself is drowning. I am good at “masking” (looking like I’m normal), but when I get home, I plump right into bed, with my laptop and I turn on the TV- usually it’s on Gravity Falls or Golden Girls.
I am an autistic woman. There are things in my brain that I wish I could show you, so you could see how much we want to just be “part of your world.” No, before you say it, we cannot be “cured” and a lot of us, including me, don’t wanna be “cured”. It is us. A lot of autistic women, are diagnosed really late, or not diagnosed at all. For me, I was diagnosed at age 22. I was lucky to get my diagnosis, because autistic women, as people have said, we are better at “masking” than boys. Yes folks, autism is not just for boys! We gals have it too! I’ve had it all my life, but it was not really diagnosed until I was much older. I had suffered in school, and I had suffered through my personal life, and I’m still that way. College, was a little more understanding of my special needs, than lets say Elementary, Middle and High School were, because they didn’t know what was exactly wrong. I’ve had doctors tell my mother I have a “mood” disorder, or I have high anxiety, but it’s all under the autism label.
As for myself, I tend to keep to myself, or I like to talk to people. I try not to talk too much, but I do. Some people believe that autistic people don’t like to talk, or we all can’t? Well, I can talk, but there a lot of us who can’t. It’s hard for those who can’t. It’s hard enough to even talk.
When I was in school, except if I was spoken too, I never really spoke in class. I would have my teachers calling home asking if I could talk or if there was a problem, because I didn’t say a word (which is weird, cause I did Theater). But, I am one of the autistic women, who is still trying to figure what being autistic really means. The crying, the intense special interests, the “talking to yourself”, or the small group of friends, or the mental breakdowns every other week, comes with the autism. I feel like I can only express my own feelings, instead of speaking about others.
Autism for me, is a journey. It’s not something you understand overnight. Everyone who has autism is different. They act in different ways, they have different special interests. We even love differently. Some of us, prefer to be alone, some of us, like myself, want someone (and luckily, I got married!), but a lot of us have a really difficult time with relationships. I know this, I dated a lottt before I met my husband. They all usually said the same thing, “You’re great! But I don’t see us as anything but friends!”
I was always seen as the friend, until my husband told me when we were dating he was looking for a wife, instead of a girlfriend.
I know I got engaged rather quickly, but I really loved this guy and I have been very happily married for almost 9 months .
When you talk to an autistic person, or at least to an autistic woman, be mindful of what you say..