Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Re Post: Autism Awareness- Gender Bias in Psychology

I just ran into this issue again. It's always a tad depressing. This was a paper I wrote in my sociological studies a few years ago. I really can not express it better than I did before. Original post with comments found here :http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2013/04/autism-awareness-month-gender-bias-in.html

Gender Bias in Psychology

This essay will discuss what I think of the ongoing gender bias that continues to exist in psychological research and will include parts of my experience as a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome. In the past I have struggled immensely to find the same respect and resources that I have found for my male son who also has Asperger’s Syndrome. It has only been in the last few years that multiple accounts of female Asperger’s syndrome have surfaced. Studies speculate that there are just as many female “Aspies” as male but there has not been nearly the amount of research on the female version of the syndrome. Thanks to Rudy Simone and a few other pioneering women who demanded that their voices be heard, leading experts like Tony Attwood are finally conducting research and writing books for the female audience.
I admire that psychology has tried, but failed, to deal with gender bias. At least it is an educational discipline that has acknowledged some if it’s shortcomings. Nauert (2006) cites social psychologist Hegarty who says he is optimistic about changes to gender bias in psychology because “psychological methods allowed us to bring this issue to light and to describe it” (para.7). While I do not feel 100% confident in the findings of psychology, especially from a female perspective, I do feel it change is necessary to the development of the discipline. Nauert (2006) also quotes Hegarty saying that, “About three quarters of these positioned men’s data first, and made women the second sex. But this effect was reversed when psychologists depicted data about parents” (para. 5).
In my own personal experience with psychologists, I have to fight hard to be heard apart from my gender yet when I talk about my son’s diagnosis, I am respected for my role and my authority as my child’s mother. This is completely frustrating and degrading. In the role of the mother, I am respected for my wisdom and intuition but I am questioned for the very same traits, simply because I am a woman and am speaking to matters pertaining to myself. I have been treated as being over dramatic when I have said something about myself when the same statement was acceptable when pertained to my son.
I regard my son as not solely male but a human that thinks and acts in a similar way to myself. In this regard, I hope that I can transcend gender in matters that involve our brains and see the differences in ourselves, not primarily as male and female, but simply from cultural conditioning or difference in temperament and taste. In my experience, my brain relates more to my male son than my female daughter, who also is an Aspie. This further complicates the role of gender and shows that the biases of psychology are not solely based on individuals and their needs. Psychological biases are also part of cultural or societal context.
Before I began my sociology studies, I thought of studying psychology. I had enough experience in my life to want to continue the research on a more equal standing, especially in regards to Asperger’s in each person, whether male or female. As I took note of varied accounts in the psychological field, I realized that my problem with psychology is that even though it is a study of the individual, it did not seem to treat each diagnosis as individual. I realized there are so many other factors involved, and so I wanted to study the world we created and then apply it to the individual as well as the whole.
I want psychology to succeed in awareness and neutrality. I will not feel confident in psychology until these two qualities show up as the norm instead of the rarity. But in my life, I depend on psychology to give me support, knowledge, aid and diagnosis. It has changed our lives for the better, while also creating injustice. For me it is a necessary discipline, despite gender biases. I have great hopes for the evolution of psychological studies and the reduction of ongoing gender bias.


Nauert, R. (2006). Male gender bias in psychological research continues. Psychology News.
Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/news/2006/12/29/male-gender-bias-in-psychology-research-continues/513.html

This is by Samantha and SO good for Aspergirls. I would highly recommend for any who wish to understand women and autism to listen while doing chores or watch during downtime:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

About Pain: Tethering the Soul to Sanity

Sometimes when pain is unbearable I have to tune out the entire world. The only room in my mind for thought is a floating awareness of my breathing. My goal is to make it to the next moment...and then the next. My hope is that it will end. If I have a mantra it is "this too shall pass" even as my brain screams back "all things pass and the good times will pass into more moments like this." I tend to get depressed with pain. Sometimes the pain lessens enough for me to give myself over to panic or my childlike self. I revert to five year old status when it is terrible enough to think of death. Mostly I think of other's deaths even though mine is more realistic at the time. I feel grief rip through me as if I have already lived through the event. I would say this happens at transition time... the time of pain when it is at an 8 to a ten crossing over into beyond pain.

I have been through childbirth. I know pain but when it is beyond the threshold of sanity, pain is too kind of a description. It takes all my self control to stay in myself and to stay out of the hospital. For I know most times it passes and most times I will feel worse taking any medication. I fight to be.

As pain subsides to a bearable level (perhaps a seven or so) I have to tether my soul to existing. I have to "come back" to the world. Because beyond ten I am floating. I may interact in a way. I am not of the pain yet the pain is consuming. As the pain gradually goes down to normal levels of being in the world I have to find more ways to become my full self again. I begin to do this when it gets back down to a nine out of ten. Then I become the childlike self. If I am silent or screaming I am beyond a nine. Under seven I start to orientate myself. I call this tethering my soul to sanity. Until I am "normal" I will go through  phases of numb to searing. I will find aches in places I did not feel before and my inner wires will feel "crossed." I will question everything in a matter of minutes and philosophize about life (Aspies are capable of many thoughts per minute and our minds race way quicker than the average person is capable of.)

How does one tether a soul to sanity? Some use religion, others use discipline, while still others focus on positive thoughts. For myself, I focus on the very thing that magnifies my pain in the first place- sensory awareness. How ironic that the attribute that can cause me MORE pain is also the attribute that can bring down my threshold of pain or vacant numbness. I may not feel the music I choose but I hear it and it heals ( beyond a seven it makes it worse.) I may not be completely aware of the soft blankets surrounding me, but in some part of my mind I feel the cocoon affect.  My husband's hand on my back can take down pain two levels. I will still be consumed but with his warm hand I concentrate all my power onto that little slice of heaven that is his healthy warmth seeping into my skin. I manage every pain better with a firm but gentle presence or touch yet if my back is rubbed wrong or a light touch administered I can reel up into higher pain digits again.

Images are the most powerful for me. I am an extremely visual person. One glimpse of violence and I can feel like vomiting or put myself exactly into the picture. One glimpse of passion and I will want my husband. A picture of home will comfort me in my darkest moments. Perhaps it is why Pinterest is my favourite social media? I use it to comfort...I pin when my pain levels go below a six. It is my way to begin healing and expressing. I also will look at colours. This is why hospital rooms magnify my pain - there is no reprieve to white. The starkness reminds me of the sterilized empty world of pain. The smells bring back memories and the harshness of the environment encourages the harsh thoughts of decay.

I can tether my soul to sanity by also reaching out to the people who love me. The voices that remind me of who I am and what I am capable of. Softly they listen. I can act five and they won't bring it up when I am 31 once again. My best friend is a person whom I can call anytime. She does not placate but she doesn't downplay it either. She dissects pain and struggle with me. For a logical Aspie brain- this is the best method to calm pain levels of 5 or less down. Her and I will go over potential causes, past experiences, other people's stories, internet research and we will chat through my breathing until I am levelled out. I will hear her war stories and she will witness mine. I feel connected and accepted. I can tell her about my five year old moments. I may not let her witness them. Luckily my only witnesses have ever been my husband, children, doctors (unfortunately) and mother. But she is fine hearing the stories and still respects me as ME. As I slowly recover I reach out to more. My husband is always the first person, then my mother, then my best friend (each one happening as levels get progressively lower) then either a doctor or another good friend, my grandmother and my children. These are all strings that hold me back on the earth until I can put down roots again.

Sometimes I will sleep if the levels are low enough to escape into the sweet bliss. I feel this is a superhuman achievement to level myself off enough to escape. I will concentrate on something sensory like my husband's arm around me or my child's laugh and I will hold it like a beacon, running over and over the fact in my mind, not allowing any other thought in with tenacious control until finally my brain is defeated and it falls into a restless pain riddled sleep. I remind myself I have survived 100 percent of my worst days and while that depressive part of my brain tells me with frank reality that one day that will not be the case, I try to remind myself that life IS. I am seared with the scars of yesterday and the scars throb when the pain comes back. Yet I KNOW that the little moments, the moments when I breathe without gasping, and live without fear or find joy in a cup of tea, or relief in a hot shower are the moments that make life so appealing. The sensory is both pain and joy. If I tether my soul to that sanity- the sanity of the ordinary ( ordinary love from people, ordinary sensory experiences ect.) I will slowly come back to myself.

How do you deal with pain? Either physical or emotional?
Today, when it was all over, and I was back down to a bearable pain level of four- this is the song that popped into my head and I had to honour- I know it's too early for christmas but I have warm christmas memories and this evoked the childlike part of me that was balanced, innocent and joyful: