There are many social and cultural aspects of autism. First, let’s discuss some terminology.
Most members of the autistic community prefer autistic person or autistic in formal English, to stress that autism is a part of their identity rather than a disease they have. In addition, phrases like suffers from autism are objectionable to many people.
The autistic community has developed abbreviations for commonly used terms, such as:
Aspie – a person with Asperger syndrome.
Autie -an autistic person. It can be contrasted with aspie to refer to those specifically diagnosed with classic autism.
Autistics and Cousins (AC)– a cover term including aspies, auties, and their “cousins”, i.e. people with some autistic traits but no formal diagnosis.
Curebie– a person with the desire to cure autism. This term is highly derogatory.
Neurodiversity– tolerance of people regardless of neurological makeup.
Neurotypical (NT)-a person who does not have any neurological disorders. Often used to describe an individual who is not on the autism spectrum.
Allistic-a person who is not autistic but may or may not be neurodiverse in other ways, for example, a dyslexic person, or someone with ADHD. Originally and commonly, however, it is used in parody to describe non-Autistics.
- Autistic adults
Communication and social problems often cause difficulties in many areas of an autistic adult’s life. A 2008 study found that adults with ASD commonly experience difficulty starting social interactions, longing for greater intimacy, a profound sense of isolation, and effort to develop greater social or self-awareness.
A much smaller proportion of adult autistics marry than the general population. It has been hypothesized that autistic people are subject to assortative mating; they tend to pair with each other and raise autistic offspring. This hypothesis has been publicized in the popular press, but has not been empirically tested.
An increasingly technological society has opened up niches for people with Asperger syndrome, who may choose fields that are “highly systematised and predictable.” People with AS could do well in workplace roles that are “system-centred, and connect with the nitty-gritty detail of the product or the system.”
- Autistic savants
An autistic savant is an autistic person with extreme talent in one or more areas of study.
Although there is a common association between savant syndrome and autism , most autistic people are not savants and savantism is not unique to autistic people, though there does seem to be some relation.
- Gender aspects
Autism is thought of as a condition mostly affecting males, with males up to four times more likely than females to be diagnosed as autistic or Asperger syndrome.
Impact on FEMALES:
- Females may be more concerned with how they are viewed by peers and the failure to connect with people outside of their immediate family could lead to severe anxiety or clinical depression.
- Autistic girls who have normal intelligence may be more socially disadvantaged than males because of the rising level of social interaction that comes in middle school, when friendships often hinge on attention to feelings and lots of rapid and nuanced communication.
- Autistic girls may suffer additionally by being placed in specialized educational programs, where they will be surrounded by males and further isolated from female social contacts.
- Although sample sizes are too small to draw firm conclusions, one study suggests that women with autism are less likely than males over the long-term to marry, have families, go to college, have a job, and live on their own.
- Females may also be different from males in terms of interests; autistic females rarely have interests in numbers or have stores of specialized knowledge.
- Some female authors diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders have written autobiographical books about living on the autism spectrum from the female perspective. Below is the list of some non-fictional books written by female authors and aimed specifically for the female audience.
- Aspergirls by Rudy Simone
- Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum by Shana Nichols, Gina Moravcik, Samara Tettenbaum
- Asperger’s and Girls by Tony Attwood.
- Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum: Overcoming the Challenges and Celebrating the Gifts by Eileen Riley Hall
- Safety Skills for Asperger Women: How to Save a Perfectly Good Female Life by Liane Holliday Willey
- M is for Autism is a novel written by the students at Limpsfield Grange about a girl with autism.
- Famous female persons diagnosed with autism are for instance:
- Temple Grandin, who has written many books and given many presentations on autism.
- Daryl Hannah, a popular actress with autism who struggles with anxiety and has done interviews on how it has affected her life.
- Rosie King, an autistic person from a family with several autistic siblings, who have hosted a short documentary called “My Autism and Me” as well as presented on autism at a TED conference.
- Valerie Paradiz, an autistic woman who has been a strong advocate in designing curricula for autistic people.
- Donna Williams, an Australian writer, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter and sculptor.
Want to read more?
- No One Understands the Sibling
- 10 Tips to Handle a Person with Autism
- Here is how to know your child is autistic