Does Autism Present Differently in Women & Girls? What about Non-Binary Autistic People?


Everyone this week, we’re going to talk about gendered autism, male, autism, female autism. What does it mean? Let’s dive in.

[00:00:47] We’ve got a long history of missteps when it comes to autism and gender. For example, the original model of autism is based very specifically on a very narrow definition of straight, cis, white, male autistic children.

[00:01:10] And this is why for a long time, we see autistic women, girls and non binary people being missed because our original model of autism very narrowly is based on little autistic boys leaving the rest of us somewhere undescribed.

[00:01:35] So after years and years of light up blue campaigns and people championing the idea that autism was a boy’s condition, there was eventually an outcry to take a look at how autism manifests itself in autistic women and girls. And this is very important that we did this because it is important to realize that autism does present very diffi- differently when people are socialized differently as women and girls often are.

[00:02:18] But there are still some problems because we started talking about this female autism, and now we have this supposedly male autism and female autism but this is still a very narrow binary model of autism. And this male, female autism binary model is completely ignoring autistic people who may fall outside of the gender binary.

[00:02:50] Or what I hear from a lot of you online is – say, maybe you are a male and you fit the definition of stereotypically female autism, or you are a woman and you fit the definition of male autism, just gendering autism saying this is male autism and this is female autism is creating a whole set of problems that we aren’t really talking about.

[00:03:28] And although I agree, it is important to talk about the different ways in which we see autism manifesting in people of different genders, inherently saying “males with autism are this way, and females with autism or this way” – in my opinion, is doing a very large disservice to those autistic people who may not present in what is traditionally thought of as male or female autism or what is appropriate for their gender?

[00:04:03] You see me using lots of air quotes here. Uh, if I had my way, we would describe many autism presentations and different things we may see in autism, but we wouldn’t say this is male autism – this is female autism.

[00:04:20] We would just say – some autistic people present this way and other autistic people present this way, because it isn’t necessarily going to coincide with, you know, what we think of as stereotypically, male or female, something else that we need to consider when we are talking about this female autism is how much of this difference in autistic women and girls is really a difference in how they are socialized because as someone who was socialized as a woman assigned female at birth and raised as a woman, the expectations put on me growing up were very different from the expectations of my male counterparts.

[00:05:17] Manners are drilled into you from a very young age. You are expected to behave like a lady, have good manners, be appropriate, be approachable, be all of these things.

[00:05:36] Uh, whereas my male counterparts growing up and my male peers often would get a pass for things saying, you know, boys will be boys.

[00:05:51] It’s just this really different standard that people are held to in general, this is all children are held to these different standards or were traditionally when I was growing up and there are consequences to this because we are raised differently.

[00:06:07] With little girls and other girls, even other girls will keep you in check. Have you seen the Handmaiden’s Tale -where they all tattle on each other and they keep each other in check? This is what it’s like growing up as a girl with other girls around you, they will tell you when you do something that is inappropriate and scold you and call you out on every little transgression until you act right.

[00:06:36] But yes, I think it is important that we have these conversations about how autism can present differently from person to person and individual to individual but I want to ask everyone to use thought and caution when getting stuck in this very binary model of autism. Because a lot of autistic people – a larger number of autistic people than neuro-typical people identify as being gender nonconforming or gender diverse.

[00:07:16] And even those autistic people who may not identify as gender nonconforming and gender diverse may not necessarily fit in with what is, uh, the stereotypical binary system of autistic males are this way, autistic females are this way.

[00:07:36] So yes, we had some good intentions when this started, but knowing what we know now, I’m asking everyone to take this new information and consider into consideration when moving forward, because we really need to broaden how we describe autism with related to people who people’s genders.

[00:08:04] Honestly, if we could take it one step further, we could talk about how autism is manifesting differently in adults versus children, or how autism manifests differently. When people are trained to mask their autistic traits. Let’s talk about those things.

[00:08:27] Because a lot of the differences that I find when I look at how they describe male autism and female autism – around women and girls learning to mask and masking is something that is unintentionally put on you when you feel like you have to hide your autistic traits and the kind of pick -picking on that you receive when you are around other girls will definitely cause some autistic people to put a mask on.

[00:09:10] So let’s talk about autistic people who mask versus autistic people who don’t mask that would be better than male autism, female autism- right?

[00:09:23] Let me know your thoughts about gendered autism. Do you agree with it? Do you disagree with it? Do you feel like you fit in the gender binary of autism or are you like me? Where I don’t feel, I quite fit in this binary model, especially as a non binary gender fluid person.

[00:09:46] Also, if you would like to help contribute and support the work I do. You can subscribe on Facebook or on Patrion.

[00:09:53] I put out new videos every week and the Facebook supporters and patrons subscribers have early access to those videos. Thank you all so much for being a part of my world. I will talk to you next time. Bye guys!


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2 thoughts on “Does Autism Present Differently in Women & Girls? What about Non-Binary Autistic People?

  1. I am not sure if I think of a “gendered autism” as being real, as there were so many constraints put on me already as a little girl it was hard to know what my own blocks were and those that were imposed. I know I was mocked by a teacher for my need for “mise en place” in all aspects of my life from a very young age, something that later in life was demanded of me. There was a certain resistance in me to being manipulated constantly for reasons that seemed to make everything end in chaos for me. Like you, my long-term memory of the way things did not work out was trying to inform the present, and I was totally out of sync with what “the world” had planned for me–it was incomprehensible to me that I was set in stone for some future that was determined by my perceived “usefulness” in elementary school. So I was punished by being told by teachers I was not supposed to be smart. Neurodivergents ARE rebels, and girls, not in a good way. I was best working on my own, and now I am on my own, completely, at age 65, having worked all my life to make myself independent in a desperate attempt to escape imposed chaos. I just discovered a few years ago, with your help, that I have always been on the spectrum, although growing up in the 50s and 60s, this was just considered stubbornness and possibly inability to understand what was expected of me, i.e., mental insufficiency. I have learned though a lot of spiritual searching to pop out when I have something to offer, then pop back into my own way of living. It saves me being berated for whatever people think are my failings.

    As far as eye contact goes, I always found it dangerous to make eye contact. It was not that I did not notice an unpleasant facial expression, it was that it seemed best to ignore it until the person wanted to tell me something was wrong. I could not imagine what could be wrong, and the few times I tried and asked if there was something wrong, it was just an attempt to manipulate me, I thought. My own miseries had been written off as unimportant. People at best strike me with dread about long-term relationships where everything is my fault. Sometimes when I stand up for myself, it turns out well at first, but there is always the payback coming. So I have reached a comfortable space where I can go when I see signs of punishment for not being what the other person expects coming on. I am too tired to learn and play whatever games I could not learn, it takes me days to recover from engaging.

    This went on longer than I expected, and may have gone way off topic. Hope you find it helpful in some way.

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