Monday, October 31, 2016

My Personality Is Not A Sub-Type Presentation

C.L. Bridge writes "My Personality Is Not A Sub-Type Presentation" at Autism Women's Network.

"When I was first identified as autistic around 2001, very little had been written about autistic girls. There was a page or two in Tony Attwood’s book Asperger’s Syndrome, but there were very few books and articles that focused specifically on how girls experience autism.  Today, that is changing. I wish I could be happier that more professionals are realizing autism isn’t a “male” condition.

Unfortunately, there is very little “autistic girl” literature written by professionals that I can read without cringing. All too often, these books and articles combine sexism with ableism.

 For one thing, many of these authors seem to think there is only one “typical” way to be a girl. Any not-so-girly interests or preferences an autistic girl has are attributed solely to autism. One widely-read example of this is the description of autistic girls and women on Tony Attwood’s website. Dr. Attwood makes sweeping generalizations about girls in general, and autistic girls in particular. He mentions that autistic girls may prefer “gender-neutral toys such as Lego”, but fails to mention that many non-autistic girls love Legos too, and that a girl’s love of Legos may have less to do with gender than it has to do with the fun of building. Is the fact that some girls like Legos better than dolls really so remarkable that it can be used as a diagnostic trait? Attwood seems to think so. He also scrutinizes autistic girls’ clothing choices. I know many non-autistic girls who prefer “comfortable clothes with lots of pockets” rather than “fancy, frilly clothing”. According to Attwood, however, not liking frills is just another sign of an autistic girl’s inability to understand social norms. He very clinically refers to tomboyish girls as having “an aversion to the concept of femininity”. Would he refer to a non-autistic tomboy in such pathologizing terms, or would he respect her interests and clothing preferences as valid choices? In addition, his black-and-white ideas about gender expression don’t even acknowledge girls who like Legos and dolls, or cargo pockets and frilly dresses."

Read the rest here!

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