Video, '24/7' CSMCAD, 1993, 45mins unedited, silent
'SM is a common comorbidity of Asperger Syndrome (Wolff, 1995; Gillberg, 1989; Andersson & Thomsen, 1998)' Carl Sutton, University of Chester, 2013
However, as much of the assessment/diagnostic criteria for Aspergers/Autism are male biased, girls and women are more likely to go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed with other conditions, unable to access the right support, or gain a perspective on their condition.
'The fact that girls with undiagnosed autism are painstakingly copying some behaviour is not being picked up on and therefore any social and communication problems they maybe having are also overlooked. This effort of mimicking and repressing their autistic behaviour is exhausting, perhaps resulting in the high statistics of women with mental health problems.'
Dale Yaull-Smith, National Autistic Society 2008
'Virtually every Aspergirl I interviewed experienced selective mutism at some point in her life, and some still experience it. This occasional inability to speak strikes the minds and tongues of both males with Asperger's and Aspergirls, and it is very unpleasant for all, but girls are "expected" to be socially competent creatures. ….A woman who cannot speak when spoken to will just seem overly shy or unfriendly; perhaps she will even appear mentally challenged. In a culture which currently seems to prize confidence over substance, this extremely public illustration of our shyness and withdrawal is very embarrassing and isolating.' [And] 'Mutism not only hijacks our words but also our ability to think.'
'…I am able to think but it's very slowed. I very much want to speak but cannot. It feels as though the neural pathways are racing to process the traffic jam on the information highway and because it is overloaded with information the roads start to clog. So the road of language is the first to shut down. Eventually I am able to speak again, but slowly. (Brandi)'
'…my brain doesn't work in words. It works in images, sounds, patterns. When I'm upset or nervous my translation system breaks down. I can think and think and think, but I can't turn any of it into words… (Andi)'
Rudy Simone, Aspergirls, Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome, 2010
'The world is unfair, unjust, unknowable, out of control. When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold.'
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, 2011