Lately, I’ve been talking to many girls on the spectrum that are Em’s age and older. Something that seems to be a core thing with girls of any age is self-esteem and confidence issues. When they are on the spectrum they also are very self conscious about areas they know they struggle in.
For some it’s how others may perceive them and how to adjust to working in a work environment with others. For others it’s about how to navigate the social waters of being a teen or young adult and figure out dating. There is always concerns about missing social cues that can lead them to awkward and embarrassing situations.
It can and often does lead these girls to frustration points at times. That frustration then leads to anxiety. As the anxiety climbs, the autism definitely becomes more noticeable. With it just being realized now that many girls present on the spectrum different differently, some are often getting the diagnosis late in their teens and early twenties.
Social skills are not as refined as girls who are caught earlier and worked on in their early youth. Then when they get into those environments or college situations, the people they live with or get to know will ask them why they are a certain way. It could range from sensory issues to social issues.
They try so hard to not let the questions bother them but there comes a point when it’s overwhelming to answer the same questions over and over again. They often don’t have the answers any more than the people asking. It’s just the way they are. And if they do know the answer to every question, it sometimes makes them feel like they are under a microscope.
When they are compared to others their age and every flaw is pointed out to them, they feel alone and flawed. These individuals need love and care. Not blunt microscopic commentaries on what they should and shouldn’t do. That they should be able to manage this or that better. What they need is to know that they aren’t alone. They need gentle encouragements. Build them up, not tear them down.
Sometimes the people around them aren’t even aware of how they make them feel. It’s a balancing act that we all need to learn to be more observant of how we explain things to them. It will take them time to adjust and fix things that are struggles for them. We need to encourage them and be patient with them.
To those struggling and in positions of conflict they are struggling with Em and I have some words for you. Take a minute for yourself. Take a few deep breaths and figure out who you have to talk to. Then ask that person if you can sit down to have a conversation. When you sit down with them, it’s going to be hard but they cannot read your mind so you have to tell them what is bothering you and how it makes you feel.
Know that it won’t be easy. You may both cry and have tears. Make sure you tell them how you appreciate that they care about you enough to share that information with you but that it builds that anxiety you have. They may even be hurt and upset. Tell them how you just want them to understand you better.
Dialog and conversations are how we move forward. If you don’t think you have a conversation with them alone, bring someone along to support you. Just ask them not to speak for you. Em has had to do it. It’s not always easy and sometimes it hurts, but in the end she feels better for letting them know how she was feeling.
We all have struggles. No one is perfect and we all have things to learn about ourselves. If we are so busy pointing out flaws in others, we can’t be working on ourselves.