What is “Girltism”?

This is a picture of me and my daughter. She posted the picture on SnapChat, just before our last move. We have moved a lot. We are survivors. We have survived together. My daughter is Autistic.

Whoa!! I bet you weren’t expecting this, were you? A blog post about Autism on a website that sells a myriad of arts, crafts, and vintage products? Well... tapping into my creative side has been a source of healing and therapy for me, throughout my life. My journey, being the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, has taken me down paths that I never thought I would experience. So... why not write about it? Maybe... just maybe... my experience can help someone else. Maybe... just maybe... writing about it will help me, too.

My daughter does not love the word “Girltism.” It is a term that I coined to make a point that I will get to later. (I actually thought it was kind of clever...) But, my daughter’s experiences, living with Autism, are the foundation of this blog, so... along with promising my daughter that I will not use her name, or share any stories that are embarrassing (I will do my best.), I have also committed to not using the term “Girltism” beyond this initial post. That being said, I do have her permission to share pictures of her and to tell our story. She is an amazing woman. It has been a long road. Some stories are funny and entertaining. Most are not. Living with Autism is hard. It is hard for my daughter. It is hard for me. But... we persevere. This blog is not intended to attract attention. This blog is intended to help others.

My daughter is 24-years old. We have learned a lot in 24 years. My wish is that sharing our journey with you, may help you understand what I call “Girltism,” and that our stories may help you, or someone you know, understand that girls with Autism are different. Let me explain...

I will not bore you with a lengthy description of Autism, or its spectrum. If you are interested enough to read this, the odds are good that you are already familiar with the Autism Spectrum. If you are not... take a moment, now, to jump on the “Google Machine,” and do a quick search. I do mean quick! It is incredibly easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of information and opinions surrounding the subject. This blog will be filled with my own opinions, but they come from experience. And, my experience... as well as data that you can research... say that females on the Autism Spectrum present VERY differently from males. One major difference... boys on the Spectrum have a tendency to act out, often in anger, when they are overstimulated... what many refer to as a “meltdown,” while girls tend to introvert into their own quiet world. Is this consistent, across the board? No. But, it is easily observed, on a major scale. This, alone, has been the source of much, much grief, throughout my daughter’s life. From difficulty in receiving a diagnosis, to trying to live independently, as an adult... the fact that my daughter‘s disability is not blatantly obvious to every person that approaches her, or even knows her well, has been both a blessing and a curse. She has escaped the stigma that surrounds so may with obvious disabilities, yet so few people really understand her.

So, what is “Girltism?” “Girltism” is my name for Autism in females.. “Girltism” is having an invisible layer slapped on to an often misunderstood disability, that makes trying to function in a world that, already, makes little sense... even harder.

My daughter has “Girltism.” The blog posts, to follow, are my stories about our journey to try and figure out how to overcome the challenges of “living Autistic” in a world that just doesn’t get it. If you are the parent of a daughter with “Girltism,” I hope my stories and the tools that have worked for us, are of some assistance in your own journey. If you are an educator, I hope that my stories may help you see a quiet girl, struggling, in the back of your classroom, and recognize that she is not just shy, she is probably having a hard time, and needs your attention. If you know my daughter, or any other young woman with “Girltism,” I hope my stories open your eyes to the world that she sees, from her perspective and mine. If you are my daughter, and you are reading this blog post... I am SO incredibly proud of you. Thank you for agreeing to let me use my voice to try and help others. You are amazing. Keep using your voice. People listen. And, yes... I’ll stop calling it “Girltism.” :)

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