Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Being an Asian American and a female with autism

I never written about my experiences about what's it like being both a woman and a person of color on the autism spectrum.  But I think it's a topic that's important as both females and ethnic minorities are vastly underrepresented in the autism community.  There is also less talk of how these identities intersect and how the experiences and perceptions of autism are different due to intersectionality.  Let me start by saying that I am one of the few Asian American women (or part of an ethnic minority groups for that matter) who is very active in the autism community.  Most of the self-advocates I know are white.  While I am happy that there are autism self advocates who can tell their story, I feel sad at the same time that there aren't so many others with intersecting identites (e.g. being part of an ethnic minority group and a woman) out there telling there stories.  In addition to my personal experiences with being autistic,  I had to deal with marginalization both as being part of an Asian American but also being a female and the negative stereotypes associated with it.  I never really thought that hard about these identities until I started taking college classes that dicuss marginalization due to both gender and race.  This is when I began thinking deeply about how these statuses began affecting my life.   The vast majority of people on the autism spectrum that I personally know are mostly male.  I can honestly say that the boys with autism are different from me in terms of interests and the way autism is express.   I sometimes wished I knew more girls on the autism spectrum and that interventions for people on the autism spectrum had a component of emotional support instead of being ( there will be a future blog post of what I mean by this in the future) based on just learning skills.    I also have to deal with stereotypes associated with traditional gender roles that  conflicts with my autism like being into fashion and trends and the expectation that I have to be social.  Having autism, social interactions are hard because of my social anxiety and I am also an introvert (another post on this will be discussed later).  Since girls and women are expected to be social, it is hard to conform to this stereotype and the negative perceptions that I would viewed as cold and uncaring for not conforming.  

Now I will discuss my view of autism in terms of my race.  I cannot speak about the African American or Latino perspectives since I don't have much knowledge  about those two ethnic minority groups but I will talk about the Asian American perspective on autism spectrum disorder.  What I am aware is that the Asian American community tends to be silent when it comes to special needs which include autism.  They tend to not want to get involved in the autism community because it's a sign of personal shame and all about the honor system.    The reason why I am so open about my diagnosis is because my parents were not the typical Asian family.  My mother was involved in numerous autism groups and was dedicated to making sure I got the best interventions and services that will help me thrive.   However where my Asian American identity intersects with my identity of having autism is that I want to be very open about my condition but at the same time the Asian American community (especially the Japanese American community) is not very open and accommodating about my disability.  This is why I maintain sort of distance from the Asian American community.  These stories of double marginalization in addition to the autism diagnosis are seldomly shared and how the expectations due to one's race and gender can conflict with autism and how it is hard to identify with people of either groups because they don't share the same experiences.  I am happy that I can share both my experiences of being a woman and a person of color on the autism spectrum.

No comments:

Post a Comment