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Women With Autism

Kelli "AURIEL" Lynn Overby

Artist, Mystic, Polymath, Autodidact

" Being autistic can often be likened to seeing a duck in water: On the surface we may seem like everything is fine, but beneath the water our legs are paddling like hell to stay afloat. "

Kelli "AURIEL" Lynn Overby

Up-And-Coming Gallery Artist and Published Writer
 

View her body of work at: 

Women with Autism
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Women with Autism

My life before my diagnosis was vastly different from the one that I am stepping into post-diagnosis now for I have spent the majority of my life trying to figure out what was wrong with me.  However, in hindsight, this did lead to a level of self-awareness that I am almost certain I would not have should it have been discovered sooner. 

This does not discount the heartbreak I still am processing from wondering what could have been if I had been noticed, if I had continued to be as I was as a small child, where I did not feel like anything was wrong with me- even if I was different, I know I did not have the self-doubt or lack of self-esteem that I did as I grew older. 

 It felt like I was somehow ahead of the curve and way behind everyone else at the same time.  I was bullied from grade school to high school (often from people I thought were my friends).  In fact, my inability to detect the genuine from the disingenuous has been one of the hardest skills to learn thus far. 

I had no answers, and neither did anyone around me growing up.  None that gave comfort or improved my life,anyway.  This is not to say I have not managed to have moments of joy or unique and wonderful experiences, because I have, but the damage done from being misunderstood and misdiagnosed will take years to fully heal from.

Aside from bullying in school and an unstable family life at home, I was often lonely, sensitive, and frustrated.  This led to many burn-outs and meltdowns, though at the time they were considered results of laziness, stubbornness, and childish tantrums.

I developed several health issues from the stress from frequent colds, migraines, digestive issues, rare illnesses (Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, Auto-immune blisters), etc. and this was compounded by hypothyroidism and obesity.  I was sick frequently and missed school a lot.  This upset my parents and even teacher’s made fun of me when I was out. I was used as an example of what not to be.

I would do really well in english and art and any science that talked about space.  Even excelling and being chosen to participate in special projects such as creating a model of the Stardust satellite to be displayed at J.P.L. when I was in 6th grade.  But math was always a terrible struggle.  

I was extremely shy or too loud.  I would be super sensitive to light and especially the sun.  I would get startled easily at sudden loud noises, never knew when to talk or to shut up, and I would “trip on air” as my family would say.  

I would eventually begin a pattern that would be later described as results of a “spikey profile” on the spectrum, but was again attributed to laziness… I would get on the dean’s list in college, then be on academic probation. I would get a job, but lose it or quit in a matter of weeks to months due to misunderstandings in “office politics” or sensory and social overloads. 

Since I was unable to hold up to the expectations of regular systems and societal expectations, I was never able to be self-sufficient enough to survive on my own, (I still am not able to) and have been dependent on family or lovers, despite how safe or unsafe it has been.

I tried to get help from several counselors and psychiatrists and self-help books, video’s, and practices.  I was so overwhelmed that I was massively dysregulated, my experiences left me traumatized, and I was leaving everyone around me frustrated as I was.  Even when I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 or as a Quiet Borderline, they said it was not quite typical, but they needed something to prescribe me medicine to see if it would help.  I was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills and I only got worse.

I decided to quit at 22, and work with what I was actually good at because fitting in was not working.  I embraced my special interests with tenacity as a life-line for I was starting to actually give up on living.  Not because I wanted to die, but because I did not know how to live in this world.  

I made the only thing that connected me to others and myself a priority.  I took to art, to writing, and to spirituality to ground myself.  It gave me peace and something to hold onto, but I was still struggling financially and had backed myself into a corner in living situations so much that I decided after a few years, that I would sell my car and go on an art retreat- try to meet people, show them my skills, and hope I could get a break.

     When I got back, I got a call from one of the hosts who asked me if I had ever been tested for being on the spectrum.  It never occurred to me, I was not what I was told an autistic person looks like, but I had nothing left to lose so I researched it like mad and everything fit more than I ever thought possible.  So I printed out pages and took online tests that I scored high on..  

So with government insurance, I fought hard to find a place that had experience diagnosing adult females and a few months later a spot opened up 7 hours away and I got the testing started and at the end of the in-person testing, it was confirmed.

 The doctor said I was missed because I was highly intelligent, self-aware, and had been traumatized.  I was diagnosed with autism, an anxiety disorder, and PTSD.  I finally had answers and a new way to look at my life up to this point. I even started having some successes (like getting into gallery shows). I have a lot less shame and blame, but also a lot of what-if’s.  I understand my quirks and I gave myself permission to self-soothe, drop the masks, and start to feel safe reclaiming the child I used to be before I was beaten down.  I get a do-over, and not everyone can say that.

Quotes & Memes by Autistic Women
Resources/Articles about Autistic Women
Resources/Websites on Autism in Women
Resources/Videos about Autism in Women
Podcasts about Autism and Women

Do you have a formal diagnosis of autism? 

Grief on the Autism Spectrum
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