Will disabled people in general understand my Autism?

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alexagirard98
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10 Sep 2019, 7:36 pm

I'm a 21 year old girl with high functioning Autism. Because I have Autism, I have trouble making friends. I have always struggled with social skills and appropriate social behaviors.

In elementary school, I was in Special Ed and all of my friends had some kind of disability. Because of this, I actually got to have play dates when I was little. If I would've been mainstreamed, I wouldn't have gotten to play with other kids or have a normal childhood.

Starting in middle school, I was mainstreamed and all of my classmates were neuro-typical. All throughout middle and high school, I had NT "friends", but none of them were actual friends. They were either just acquaintances who were nice to me and liked me in school and completely forgot about me when not at school, or they were fake friends who absolutely loved me and called me their "best friend", but they would single me out and exclude me from everything including conversations, get-togethers outside of school and parties. I didn't have any REAL close friends. I either had fake "close friends" or acquaintances. I never had ANY plans after school or on weekends unless I was doing something with my family. I feel like it's because I stand out among my NT peers because of my bad social skills and behaviors and had trouble fitting in because of it. I have even had my NT peers pick on me about my Autistic behavior, take advantage of me by having fun at my expense and accuse me of being rude or doing something wrong when I wasn't trying to be bad or rude at all. My mom noticed this issue and suggested that I join a Meetup group just for people with Autism. I absolutely fell in love with the idea! I thought that if I was surrounded by other Autistic people who had the same issues as me, i'd be understood and finally find the good friends I had been lacking since elementary school.

I was right! I went to my very first meetup with an Autistic group and it went really well! I met people my own age who I can actually relate to because they have the same problems as me, and I even got invited to the mall with one of my new friends from the group only a week after I met them. My new like-minded friends actually invited me places because I can actually relate to them, so I was able to form a WAY better chemistry with them than I ever did with my NT peers. I felt like I could actually be myself with these friends, and I FINALLY had plans after school and on the weekends with FRIENDS, with people my own age! I was actually getting included in things! Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well, it was, except that almost all of my friends were guys! That's because there are WAY more guys with Autism than girls with Autism. Because of this, I was the only girl at the majority of the meetups, and there were other times where there was only ONE other girl at a meetup. Also, when my friends and I would hang out at the mall, I wanted to go into girly stores like H&M, Sephora, Forever 21 and Victoria's Secret, but I couldn't because I was hanging out with guys. Guys usually don't shop at stores like that unless they are gay or something. Not only that, but whenever I hung out with only one of my male friends, I constantly had to let people know that we were just friends, not dating. That got old and annoying fast. I think it'd be easier if I befriended and hung out with other girls, but girls with Autism aren't common enough.

There's another Meetup group in my area for people with all types of special needs, like Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, being blind or deaf, being in a wheelchair and other disabilities. I'd like to give this other group a try because it's more likely to have an equal amount of guys and girls. Disabilities like Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, blindness and deafness affect both guys and girls equally, so I feel this other group will have more girls in it than my current group, and i'll no longer be the only girl at certain meetups. I don't like being the only girl in a situation! It's so sad and it makes me stand out! When I was in Special Ed, my class was an equal amount of boys AND girls because it was a class for all disabilities, not just Autistic kids. Should I join this other group and give it a chance? Will people my age with disabilities other than Autism still be better friends for me than my NT peers? People with other disabilities might not understand Autism, but at least they'll understand what it's like to be different and struggle with things, right? What i'm looking for is easy friendships where my friends accept me for who I am and have the same interests as me. I need to be able to be myself around my friends too. I'll still have male friends, but i'd prefer to have mostly female friends, and I want my BEST friend to be female. That way, hanging out at the mall will be easier, I can ask my friends if I can borrow a pad or tampon if I get my period, I can go get my nails done and things like that with friends(something I definitely can NOT do with guys), and I can talk about girl stuff with my friends(crushes on guys, etc.). Should I join this other Meetup group and try to befriend people with various disabilities? Will they understand me just as well as people with Autism? Thank you! :)



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10 Sep 2019, 8:07 pm

I would say that someone with a disability would likely be more likely to understand that someone else has a disability and that their issues are real, but I don't think they would be more likely to understand the nature of it, and anything related to the brain is harder to understand than a physical disability.


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Joe90
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11 Sep 2019, 11:47 am

I have a friend with Fragile-X syndrome, and although she isn't autistic, we still share some traits; we both dislike loud noises, we both struggled socially throughout our school lives (even though we didn't go to the same school), and we both would rather stay in and do some creative activity rather than go out to a bar. She's the only other person I know who hasn't ever been drunk in her life and hates bars and clubs. Plus she literally has less friends than me.

I have met people with downs syndrome before. I remember these 16-year-old twin girls that both had downs, and they attended a special school. Their parents said that they weren't autistic but they weren't 'normal'. They both stuck together like they were joined at the hip, and they liked playing with brightly-coloured toys and other objects. Their minds seemed to be no older than 4 years old. They could speak but only spoke to each other, for example if you asked one of them if she wanted a drink she'd look at her sister and answer to her as though she had asked the question. They were both very happy though, and were often jumping around excitedly. But they did climb over me sometimes, and one of them once wiped a bit of earwax on my arm and thought it was hilarious. They didn't seem to understand how gross that was. I haven't seen them for years now. I'd like to know how they're getting on but I can't find them or their family on Facebook.

Wait, I think I derailed this thread a bit. But I'm just saying that not all non-autistics are neurotypicals. Knowing this makes me feel less victimized by autism.


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Mona Pereth
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12 Sep 2019, 4:38 pm

I would suggest that you go to both groups.

Continue going to the autism group -- and arrive early, so that any other woman who happens to show up isn't scared away by being the only woman.


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cyberdad
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15 Sep 2019, 2:49 am

You seem very sweet and I agree with other posters here that people with other types of disability might well share common experiences with navigating life in the NT world and relate to you.

If you mix with a wide variety of people it will provide a more enriching experience and I applaud you for being open minded. Don't close the door on NTs...although we are a little "judgmental" there's a few good ones out there. Keep going with being open minded :)



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19 Sep 2019, 11:48 pm

I think you should go, but I do have a few things to say. First, I do think there is significantly more autistic women than the world thinks there is, they just get different labels slapped onto them. If you want to seek out such women, look for mental health groups, the disabled group would likely feature more women whose disabilities are very different from autism. I still think you'll find you can relate with a lot of people in the disability group though, because you share the same social experience of being disabled. One thing I need emphasize though is that you don't relate with them because you're disabled. It's not arbitrary deficiencies that tie you together, but the experience of living in a society that fails to accommodate them. With autism, that also applies, but it also doesn't. See, in addition to the shared social experience autism also impacts how people think. My warning is not to place too much emphasize on the difference between autistic and not autistic, as that is a division based on ability, not on how people think.


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01 Oct 2019, 12:49 pm

Some of them might, but don't count on it. They might better understand aspects related to having a disability, but I wouldn't assume they'd be more likely to understand what autism is; then again they might if they've been exposed to it before.


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