So, I follow @EverydayAbleism on Twitter, which is very similar to @EverydaySexism, except from the fact that it covers people in the UK who suffer from an ableist society. Ableism is basically the discrimination of someone because of a disability that they might just have to live with day in day out.
I have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) which I was diagnosed with at the tender age of three. As I grew up, I was made very aware of my ‘disability’ by ableist foster carers, who looked after me solely for my DLA and the higher rate paid to them by social services. I was bullied at Brownies and Guides because I ‘suffered’ from a condition, and was often reminded by teachers that I would never go to university, because ‘kids like you simply don’t do things like university, if you aim that high you are only setting yourself up for failure.’ That would be before they would shoo me away and tell me to get on with that wordsearch that would be the only bit of schooling I would be given for the day.
It wasn’t until I got to mainstream school when sexism came into the picture for me and ASD.
‘You can’t be autistic, you don’t seem it.’
‘Girls don’t get Aspergers, that’s a guy thing’
‘I didn’t think you had Autism, unless you were born male’
‘You look rather boyish, so that kinda makes sense’
I never thought that being female, and being autistic was such a crime! I never really thought that it was a problem. Autism doesn’t affect as many female s as it does males, and doctors and scientists are still trying to figure it all out. I have often been the only girl in a class of twenty students when I was at special school. I didn’t care a jot, naturally. I thought that was normal, as I played Yu Gi Oh and read manga with my best friend. I was seen as one of the guys. And I didn’t think that was wrong!
I was on Twitter yesterday, when a discussion on ableism in education was spoken about. I brought up the special school teacher incident, and a few girls with ASD and Aspergers replied to me. They told me that lots of Aspie folk attend university, and it is seen as normal. Yes, it can be tricky for us as we don’t have the same skills as everyone else when it comes to studying, but there is support available.
The conversation then turned to being aspergers and female. That opened up a whole can of worms for us. Yes, we are women, yes we have autism and/or aspergers. Why does that matter?
What we need is to be seen and heard just as much as male ASD folk. Notice that I never mentioned ‘sufferers’. When doctors and specialists write about Autism, they must’nt focus on some people just because a penis rather than breasts and vaginas are involved. I’m sorry, but that’s the bottom line. When teachers have a girl with ASD, they need to make sure that she is just as valued as her male counterparts. Girls and women with Aspergers and Autism need feminism just as much as any other women. Perhaps we can be more oppressed than some other women, simply because of the fact that we ASD girls are not taught about feminism, teachers just don’t think it applies to us. If anything, we might need it more than anyone else. I’m not saying that we are the most important, lots of women need feminism, from the trans (yes, feminism is VERY IMPORTANT for them!!!) To the WoC (women of colour). But sometimes the disabled women are forgotten. Especially those with what is known as an invisible condition.
So, next time you meet a woman with Aspergers or ASD. Don’t question her and her ‘eligibility’ to live (not suffer) with it. Just support her, and love her like you would love any of your other friends.
Because Women have Aspergers Too.