Teenager creates eye-opening videos that shatter stereotypes surrounding autism and girls
via paigelayle / Instagram

The most recent data shows that about one in 68 children in the U.S. are affected by autism and boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is marked by communication and social difficulties, sensory processing issues, and inflexible patterns of behavior. Almost everything that researchers have learned about the disorder is based on data derived from studies of boys.

However, researchers are starting to learn that ASD manifests differently in girls. This has led many girls to be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.


"The model that we have for a classic autism diagnosis has really turned out to be a male model," Susan F. Epstein, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist said according to Child Mind.

via PIxaBay

"That's not to say that girls don't ever fit it, but girls tend to have a quieter presentation, with not necessarily as much of the repetitive and restricted behavior, or it shows up in a different way," Epstein added.

Stereotypical ASD behaviors may also get in the way of recognizing the disorder in girls.

"So where the boys are looking at train schedules, girls might have excessive interest in horses or unicorns, which is not unexpected for girls," Dr. Epstein notes. "But the level of the interest might be missed and the level of oddity can be a little more damped down. It's not quite as obvious to an untrained eye."

Girls with ASD are usually better at hiding their autistic behaviors, so they suffer in silence.

Paige Layle, a 19-year-old eyelash technician from Ontario, Canada, has autism but because she's a social butterfly, most people don't realize she has the disorder.

"I get that a lot, that because I'm good-looking, nothing can be wrong with me — so I want to show that mental illness is diverse," Layle told BuzzFeed.

To help people better understand how autism manifests in girls and women, Layle has made a series of videos on her TikTok page.

"I decided to start making videos because of an audio that was going all over TikTok that was making fun of autistic people. I hated it. I feel like many people don't understand how many people are autistic," she said.

Layle's videos are eye-opening because they shatter some big myths about autism and show how difficult it can be to live with the disorder, especially if you don't know you have it.

@paigelayle learn more about autism! :) i get many questions every day to make more vids about it, i will continue to show you guys! ##feature ##fup ##fyp ##featureme
♬ original sound - paigelayle

In the first video, she explains how the initial research done on autism was only on boys or men.

"Girls usually end up showing different traits than guys do. Which is why it can take us years to get diagnosed. I was 15 when I got diagnosed and that's considered early for a girl."

She also explains that girls often are diagnosed later because they are better at hiding autistic behaviors.

"This is something we call masking. Masking is basically just being like a really good actor.

It's where you take traits that everyone else is showing and start portraying them as yourself. It's like a lot of copying going on. ... In your mind you don't think you're copying. You think that this is normal and everyone feels the same way you do.

You basically feel like an alien and you're really good at hiding that. Which is why I don't seem autistic."

@paigelayle no such thing as high/ low functioning autism!!! it's just how YOU perceive us. not about how we're affected. ##feature ##featureme ##fup ##fyp
♬ original sound - paigelayle

In part two, she discusses the idea of being high-functioning.

"Get high-functioning and low functioning out of your vocabulary. It doesn't help anybody. I know you may think that saying 'Oh like you're high-functioning' is compliment. It's not a compliment. It's also like a reminder that I'm just masking, and it's so hard.

Masking is the most exhausting thing in the world... 'High-functioning' is basically a label that you can use to be like 'Your autism doesn't affect me that much.' But I'll tell you that everyone you think is high-functioning is greatly affected by their autism."

In part three, Paige discusses common autistic traits that girls have.

"I am overly social. I give way too much eye contact. I'm really good in social situations. It's also very common for girls with autism to have other mental disabilities or mental disorders as well. I have seven and one of the main ones is OCD.

All of these mental illnesses stem from having autism. But OCD, anxiety, and depression are very common, especially in girls. Just the feeling that the world needs rules for you to understand it. That's why a lot of autism special interests include things like anatomy, the human body, psychology, just figuring out how the world works is our way to figure out how to live in it."

@paigelayle ahhh masking. can't live with you, can't live without you. ##feature ##fup ##fyp ##featureme ##autism
♬ original sound - paigelayle

In part four, Paige discusses the topic of masking.

"When you're in the autistic closet and you are not known to be autistic yet ... you like subconsciously know that you're weird and you don't know how to act or how to be.

It's like the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you wear your hair, like your mannerisms. Like everything you say. Everything you think. Everything you think that you enjoy. It's all what you are accustomed to from your peers.

I've been diagnosed for four years and I'm still trying to figure out who I am and what I actually like to do. You just get to used to creating this mask that when it's like 'Hey, you can take it off,' It's like what the frick is underneath it? I don't know what's going on."

via KTLA 5 / YouTube

A little after 7:30 on Tuesday night, Los Angeles County Sheriffs received multiple reports about a herd of cows running through the streets of Pico Rivera, a city 11 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

This Twitter video does a perfect job of encapsulating the surprise residents felt when they saw 40 cows running through their quiet suburban neighborhood.

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via KTLA 5 / YouTube

A little after 7:30 on Tuesday night, Los Angeles County Sheriffs received multiple reports about a herd of cows running through the streets of Pico Rivera, a city 11 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

This Twitter video does a perfect job of encapsulating the surprise residents felt when they saw 40 cows running through their quiet suburban neighborhood.

Keep Reading Show less
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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."