Being Female. Huh? Well, I am female, and being so, I now view that as part of the overall complication of living with being on the Autism Spectrum. Not recognized as readily in girls (as opposed to boys) while in school, and not displaying the typical hyper-active characteristics of boys, girls were very rarely diagnosed beyond the usual “not applying herself” or “needs to be less social” (translation: less talkative) or “not working up to potential.” In my opinion, as a former teacher, these generic phrases could be applied to 90% of all students. The difference is that boys have always earned more attention from teachers simply because their hyper-activity demanded it. And, more attention meant more help. Girls were left on their own.
Not being properly diagnosed is the #1 issue here, though no one is to blame — it was the 50’s after all. ADD-ADHD-Dyslexia — the entire Autism Spectrum — were not discussed in any books that my teachers were reading. They focused on who could sit still, follow instructions, get the most assignments correct and on time. No real stretch here. But I was left with an overwhelming sense of failure, not fitting in or falling into line, and never really understanding why.
Not fitting in is a common problem for everyone during the school years. None of us knew enough to feel comfortable in our own skin, let alone among our peers, or those who were older and more mature. A constant source of frustration, it’s a wonder any of us survived and moved onto adulthood! How we made it through high school and graduated college is anybody’s guess. We do know, however, that college entrance requirements in the 60’s were considerably lower than today. I guess for that I am grateful.
I was diagnosed with being on the Autism Spectrum in my thirties and I’ll share that experience in a later post. Needless to say, my diagnosis was just as true for me as it has been for others who received this information in adulthood: overwhelming relief that we ARE NOT CRAZY. We now had justification and logical explanations for so many things! It is so easy to research (thank you Google!) and develop our own ways to cope with learning differences. And, yes, we can actually excel. So many famous people, actors and successful entrepreneurs have made a point of admitting they, too, have learning issues. It is interesting to read their stories and may even help someone to move forward with more confidence.
And Finally . . .
My primary reason for developing this blog is to help anyone struggling with ADD-ADHD-Dyslexia learning differences, being Female, especially as adults. Living without that diagnosis can overwhelm us and prevent our rising to our best versions of ourselves. And, being Female while living with these learning differences we are often made to feel less than, stupid and incapable of achieving life assignments. Sadly, ADD-ADHD-Dyslexia learning differences are overlooked in girls while we are in elementary school, thereby keeping the tools and support available to us our of reach until we have suffered many losses and frustrations.
I hope sharing helps everyone still looking for answers. I enjoyed the following video on YouTube: “Trouble with Normal; My ADHD, The Zebra,” by Emily Anhalt. I think you will too as it is one of the few by a woman, and one of two doctoral candidates speaking up about our learning differences. The other by Salif Mahamane. His YouTube video is “ADHD Sucks, But Not Really.”
“To me, it is quite clear that however important I may feel I am, I am just one individual, while others are infinite in number and importance.”
The Dalai Lama
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