As professionals, whether teachers, psychologists, behavior analysts, evaluators, or others who work with people on the autism spectrum, we need to increase our awareness of the difference between autistic boys and men and autistic girls and women. One excellent way to do this is to listen to and read works by women who identify as autistic or Asperger’s. There is a lot out there, and each writer has a unique perspective. To paraphrase Stephen Shore’s famous quote, “If you’ve read about one autistic woman’s experience, you’ve read about ONE autistic woman’s experience.” By reading many books, articles and blog posts, and by meeting and talking with many women on the spectrum, we can begin to understand the many ways in which autism manifests differently among females. Here are some ideas to get started.
Asperger’s and Girls featuring Tony Attwood and Temple Grandin as well as other experts and women on the spectrum is a great starting point for learning about how autism affects women differently.
Temple Grandin is the best known and most accomplished autistic woman author and speaker. If you haven’t yet read her works or heard her speak, you should. Find her books and conferences at Future Horizons, Inc. and listen to her YouTube channel for her TED talks and other presentations. Dr. Grandin has a unique perspective, but hers is not the only one.
Anita Lesko is an autism advocate, author, and speaker who was diagnosed at age 50. Read about her story in her book, Asperger’s Syndrome: When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade. She has another book, Becoming an Autism Success Story, coming out in April, 2019, and is also a speaker for Future Horizons.
Jennifer McIlwee Meyers, author, speaker, and Aspie at Large, was also diagnosed as an adult, at age 36. Her book, How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger’s, is based on extensive research as well as her own personal experience.
Mary Meinel Newport is another autistic author, co-writing with her husband, Jerry Newport, Autism-Asperger’s & Sexuality: Puberty and Beyond, as well as the autobiographical Mozart and the Whale, which was made into a motion picture by the same name.
Liane Holliday Willey has written Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome and Asperger Syndrome in the Family: Redefining Normal, and she has another book coming soon.
Donna Williams, (1963-2017) wrote several books including her first, Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic.
There are many blogs written by women on the spectrum. Reading some of them, and following the ones that you feel are teaching you the most of what you need to learn next, is a great way to get started on getting into others’ unique perspectives. Here are a few:
- Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network at https://awnnetwork.org/blog
- Asperger’s Diary: Life through the Lens of Asperger’s by Lynn Soraya https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/aspergers-diary
- Musings of an Aspie by Cynthia Kim https://musingsofanaspie.com/
- Inner Aspie https://inneraspie.blogspot.com/
However you choose to educate yourself about the unique and valuable point of view of girls and women on the autism spectrum, getting started on this learning process is a great step forward. If you know of other blogs or books that I should have included here, email me and let me know. I’ll add your suggestions.