By Aidan Dunn, Intern at the Global Autism Project
Hello readers! It’s me again. You missed me last week because I was at the United Nations building with the rest of the team listening in on a couple of lectures on Autism for Autism Awareness Month. It was my first time at the UN which was exciting for me. After we got past the airport-like security to get in, we all got seated in a large hall that I found nearly identical to the auditorium back at college. The lectures were pretty much identical in tone as well. The only differences were the better seating, the lack of audience participation, and the lack of extra credit for writing about the lecture. (This blog doesn’t count- it’s just regular work, I don’t get a raise for doing it…)
The subject of these lectures was women with autism. This is a tricky subject for me to relate here since I- am A: Male, and B: don’t know any women around my age on a personal level autistic or otherwise. That said, I will try to talk a little about what I know. First off, there’s a lot more guys with autism than girls. Estimates suggest that (at best) there are four boys diagnosed with autism for every girl. The reasons why aren’t exactly clear- it might be genetics, or it might be that it’s harder to detect autism in girls. For example, one of the biggest telltale signs for autism at a young age is shyness and an aversion to social activity- that was how my parents initially noticed that something was up with me. However, while shyness is considered out of place in a boy, a shy little girl is often considered “cute”. As a result it’s possible that there are just as many women as men affected with autism- they just haven’t been diagnosed.
People who are autistic are vulnerable to being taken advantage of in relationships- we aren’t great at understanding other people’s thoughts and emotions and that means that we can be prone to being deceived. In the UN lectures one particularly moving lecture came in the form of a first hand account of a woman who fell in love with someone who was already in a relationship and how her life unraveled as a result. While the story did have a happy ending, it was an unfortunate example of how misjudging someone can lead to tragedy.
I don’t really have any advice for people on the spectrum who might be taken advantage of. The feeling of betrayal hurts like a knife to the gut. I’ve felt that feeling of being hurt by someone you trusted and I have had friends who have been hurt by the people they trusted. All I can say is to be careful, don’t give or blame yourself if a relationship breaks down, and don’t be afraid to share your experiences- you are not alone.
This post got kind of heavy towards the end- I guess that means this is a good time to end it. Until next time readers!
*The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Global Autism Project.*