2013 was a year of discovery for us, as we began to acknowledge and quantify what it means in our family to be on the autism spectrum. Now, as you know, we don’t yet have an “official” diagnosis. What we have is pretty much all of the symptoms, and a lot of research. Besides my truly amazing friends and family, who have been so very supportive and encouraging along this journey by helping us to identify each challenge as a unique gift, I have had two partners on the way who don’t even know how great they are, how much they’ve helped, or that we all exist.
First, I have to acknowledge the amazing work being done by Jess at Diary of a Mom. She has helped me immensely, giving me insight and gifting me with patience and enjoyment of what might otherwise have undone me. Despite being on the spectrum as well, Goldilocks and I often have very different experiences of what that term means practically, and we’re both headstrong and stubborn. Diary’s unique perspective, grace and determination have uplifted me, challenged me and enhanced every part of my life with my daughters (and myself!). I feel heard. I feel like my voice matters, and I will spend every ounce of my energy to ensure that my girls know what that feels like – from now! That means, first and foremost, that I must hear them. Diary of a Mom helps me not to lose sight of that, what it means, why it matters, and how to do it.
She also manages to imbue every post with energy, joy, passion, philosophical wisdom and thought-provoking controversy – and all beautifully written, too. Which matters to me. Visit her site here.
Secondly, Tania Ann Marshall is a researcher and psychologist who has specialised in understanding and documenting Aspergers Syndrome in women and girls. Really, her work is how I first truly understood that Goldilocks and I (and probably Red Riding Hood, given recent, vague developments in her life) are on the spectrum and probably have Aspergers. Until now, it has been largely believed that boys are four times more likely to be autistic to some degree than girls. Thanks to the work of Dr Marshall and others like her, this is now being understood differently. Because girls are better at social camouflage and mimicry, and more likely to hide in the shadows rather than act out in trying situations, they often go undiagnosed. They have to (and manage to) navigate this road alone. Dr Marshall attempts to itemise what it means to be a girl or woman with Aspergers, how it affects her life , work and social interactions, and how to get the help she needs.
To my enormous delight, Dr Marshall is writing a book on the subject, I am Aspiengirl, which will be available to purchase in the next few months. You can preorder it here. In the meantime, read her blog here.