There is a lot of misinformation about autism floating around the internet and our own communities. Please be an ally to autistic people; a great way to do so is by refreshing your understanding of what autism is. I recommend this description from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network as an accurate, autistic-led, definition of autism.
Unfortunately, almost every single study, diagnosis guideline, and therapy for autstic people is based on years of looking solely at the male brain and male behavior patterns. Check out this short Buzzfeed video that explains the problem.
Spoiler alert: the lack of understanding of what autism looks like in women means most autistic women go undiagnosed and without any kind of support for their developmental disability. So what does autism look like in many neurodivergent women? Samantha Craft’s now infamous checklist is an extremely helpful start, and is the model I will use for the purposes of this blog post about witchy, autistic, women.
Witchy (Autistic) Women
Among others, Ms.Craft suggests the following traits are common in most women on the spectrum:
Unconventional Social Interaction
Witchy Autistic Women everywhere, here is my ode to you. May I do this list well as I humbly correlate these traits to, what I believe is, an overwhelming propensity for autistic women to be drawn to witchcraft. Furthermore, I believe witchcraft to be an outstanding therapy for autism, especially in a world bone-dry of resources for neurodivergent women. I realize this may stir up a lot of feelings for you around whether you are autistic, and what you need to do about it if you are. My point, dear sister witches, is that you have already engaged in an amazingly therapeutic practice for autistic women: the power of witchcraft.
Autistic Traits in Witchy Women
Deep Thinkers: Nothing is simple for the autistic woman. An understanding of one concept only begets more questions. We read voraciously, write prolifically, and create intuitively. We become experts in fields like human psychology, religion, philosophy, human services, and healthcare. We want to know how everything connects to everything and what the truth is. We will devote what others consider to be way too much energy (anxiety!) to making order in chaos while at the same time learning to accept chaos as the complex reality of our lived experience. As witches, we learn to direct this immensely deep energy into channels that benefit both ourselves and the greater good. What was once anguish becomes time well-invested in real magick.
Innocent: Innocence is seen as a weakness in neurotypical society. It is assumed the innocent person is “stupid” for being so naive, and is someone who “deserves” to be taken advantage of. Since autistic women have trouble understanding why someone would lie, manipulate, or take advantage of her, especially someone she loves, there is great danger of abuse. Many autistic women are abused as children or by their partners as a result of this developmental difference and inability to understand harmful social cues. For women who have been hurt by this trait, I urge you to find healing in reclaiming this innocence for yourself in your witchcraft. Give yourself the gift of trying new spells, and power them with the knowledge that they will work because of your pure intentions. Allow yourself to drop the mask you wear to avoid the great hurt autism can cause you by being really good at something ego-driven people are not – moving energy to make real magick.
Unconventional Social Modus Operandi: Autistic women often vacillate between two social modes, escapism and hyper-sociality. On the one hand, we create imaginary friends that don’t have the complicated social rules of “real” friendships. We take to reading and music to keep us company. We spend energy on fake friendships because we know they aren’t real and can’t hurt us; only they do. On the other hand, when we do make friends we are loud, oversharing, lack boundaries, and seem to monopolize the conversation. I call it part of my charm, but it can be really off-putting to neurotypical people who know the nuances of polite conversation. In witchcraft, we get to embrace the best of both our social modes – rules be damned! We get to escape within, delving deep into conversation with ourselves and energies we feel. We tune in to the real as naturally as can be, and the time has come to not be ashamed of this fact. We also are passionate about witchcraft, as it is our special interest. We can talk about it all day and we are great proponents of the benefits of the craft. We talk about our own experiences fully and deeply, not because we are narcissistic, but because we hope others find value in something that matters so intrinsically to us. We quietly heal ourselves and loudly heal others.
Sensitive: Autistic women are highly sensitive to physical stressors and emotional energy. We require great lengths to “re-charge” over things that barely seem to affect neurotypical people. When we don’t honor this need to recharge, we overload and melt down in the form of anxiety, anger, depression, and hopelessness. Witchcraft not only honors the need to be cyclical – equal parts resting and action – but it honors our empathic nature as a gift instead of a weakness. Given the right environment, the right support systems, and the time needed to regroup, our empathic gifts flourish in the forms of spot-on intuition, healing prowess, green thumbs, and mindful lifestyle. Waking the witches means changing the way we see sensitivities as a society at large.
Pattern Oriented: Autistic women notice patterns, coincidences, energy flows, and reciprocity in words, songs, details, and numbers. Not only are they tuned into the natural patterns of the universal systems, they know what to do with these patterns. They know how numbers are messages and how song lyrics can make you feel really good deep in your soul. A certain rhythm or cadence of a repeated phrase is intensely satisfying and therapeutic. The tool of pattern recognition is crucial to witchcraft, and autistic women have the innate ability to harness this power. Furthermore, we use these patterns to aid in our problems with executive functioning. Having trouble motivating yourself to clean the house? Use the energy of the new moon to clear, and the energy of the full moon to clean. Can’t make a decision? Use the tools of divination to walk yourself through the process. Let your ability to tap into the energy cycles named in witchcraft inform your executive functions.
What does this mean for you?
Perhaps you are autistic and nodding along with this list. Perhaps this list has you suspecting you might be autistic. Perhaps this list has you affirming you are not autistic.
Autistic women: I see you.
Possibly autistic women: I support your journey of self discovery.
Neurotypicals: now you know how to be a better ally to autistic women.
To all of you, I welcome you to the intersection of autism and witchcraft. It has always been here, we are now just naming it, and we can champion it together.