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Teenager creates eye-opening videos that shatter stereotypes surrounding autism and girls

"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."

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.

"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."

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

@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

"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.

@paigelayle more on special interests later ☺️ #feature #autism #fyp #fyp #featureme ♬ original sound - paigelayle

"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."

In part four, Paige discusses the topic of masking.

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

"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."


This story originally appeared on 03.11.20

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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