CARY, NC– Growing up, Becca Alley always felt different from others. She just didn’t have a label for herself.
“The Shania Twain song like ‘I feel like a woman.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know what that really means,'” Alley said. “I really enjoy makeup and long hair, but I don’t necessarily feel the strong identity of being a woman.”
The 28-year-old North Carolina resident did not quite blend in with her peers. She struggled socially with brutal honesty, which caused many of her friendships to end.
“My girlfriend came to school in high school with a brand new haircut. I told her it looked awful. I figured that was a way she could have it fixed. I thought I would be helpful,” she said.
Alley was diagnosed with autism at the age of 23. She identifies as gay and has a girlfriend.
People with autism are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+. They are more likely to experience a greater diversity of sexual orientations, according to the University of Cambridge. Figures show that men with autism are almost four times more likely to identify as bisexual. Women with autism are three times more likely to identify as gay.
“They are socialized a little differently, which is partly due to autism, but is also misunderstood and potentially marginalized,” said Dr. Clare Harrop, Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Medicine.
According to Harrop, rates of autism are likely increasing because there is more awareness among women, who are more likely to be diagnosed in adulthood. She said that there is a phenomenon in autism called masking.
“Almost like pretending not to be autistic. So use strategies to appear ‘normal’, to fit in with peers. Really exhausting,” she said.
Today, Alley is proud to be an advocate for the autism community. She wears noise-cancelling headphones when she leaves the house and sunglasses because she is sensitive to some lights. She even rejoiced with colleagues and friends by sharing that she is autistic and proud.
“I’ve gotten better at recognizing when to just shut up, but now I’m surrounded by people who are more accepting of me being too blunt,” Alley said.
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https://abc13.com/autism-lgbtq-cary-nc-pride-month/12077009/ People with autism are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+