Autism in girls and women-
a constant ‘othering.’
Not fitting the stereotype of what it means to be ‘neurotypical’
(because, we’re not),
but also not fitting the stereotype of what it means to be ‘neurodivergent’
(because, we are but, we’re not boys, which is what the stereotype is based on)…
This poem is about that sense of ‘othering’ that so many of us, as neurodivergent girls growing up, and now, as neurodivergent women, have experienced. It’s called, unimaginatively, ‘Autism In Girls’, and here it is.
It’s not just having an
‘obsession with trains’
‘disposition to misbehave’,
it’s getting kicked out of lessons
when you can’t concentrate.
But not knowing why.
Not understanding what it is that you’ve done wrong
so, internalising that, and coming to the conclusion that, it must be you who is ‘wrong.’
That, it must be your fault that the words from their mouths aren’t relaying
to your bran,
Can’t even say it.
What are you saying?
What are they saying?
‘Bout to start complaining that nothing ever stays in
your ‘stupid’ head.
You wish that you could just be ‘normal’ instead,
forget all the crap that you’ve been fed
about being ‘wrong’
or ‘too much’
or ‘not enough’,
forget how it feels to be constantly judged.
All the time.
For things that you’re not even aware that you’re doing in your conscious mind.
– Being told that your attitude ‘reeks.’
– When you finally find your voice, being met with sniggers and jeers from your classmates;
‘Oh, it speaks!’
– Being unable to make eye contact.
– Head feeling ransacked
And, before you ask, I can tell you now that we have all tried being more ‘zen’-
it doesn’t work.
For, the feeling that we are somehow ‘wrong’, it still lurks.
And, because of where it resides, in the deepest parts of our subconscious minds, we can’t always stop ourselves in time.
We can’t always stop ourselves from spiralling
as we desperately try to hit rewind again,
try to be more kind again
Like they told me I should be
when I said that I felt like I was ‘trapped in a story’,
in which I was the protagonist in the story-
They told me that I wasn’t.
They told me that I was just ‘poorly.’
Which, made me feel worse, actually.
Why was I poorly?
This is just my brain.
If I were born a boy, I would’ve been called Lee.
and, maybe it would’ve been easier to stim,
and to get away with it.
-Shaking my legs up and down whenever I sit,
-Constantly looking for something to pick,
-Having an annoying, but overarching, all consuming tendency to quit
Maybe it would’ve been easier,
school made breezier,
had I been born a boy called Lee,
‘obsession with trains’
‘disposition to misbehave.’
Maybe it would’ve been easier…