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

This story originally appeared on 03.11.20


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."

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."

Sponsored

This is the most important van in NYC… and it’s full of socks.

How can socks make such a huge difference? You'd be surprised.

all photos provided by Coalition for The Homeless

Every night, the van delivers nourishment in all kinds of ways to those who need it most

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Homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over 50,000 people sleep each night in a shelter, while thousands of others rely on city streets, the subway system and other public locations as spaces to rest.

That’s why this meal (and sock) delivery van is an effective resource for providing aid to those experiencing homelessness in New York City.

Every night of the year, from 7pm to 9:30, the Coalition for the Homeless drives a small fleet of vans to over 25 stops throughout upper and lower Manhattan and in the Bronx. At each stop, adults and families in need can receive a warm meal, a welcoming smile from volunteers, and a fresh, comfy new pair of Bombas socks. Socks may be even more important than you think.

Bombas was founded in 2013 after the discovery that socks were the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.

Access to fresh, clean socks is often limited for individuals experiencing homelessness—whether someone is living on the street and walking for much of the day, or is unstably housed without reliable access to laundry or storage. And for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness —expenses might need to be prioritized for more critical needs like food, medication, school supplies, or gas. Used socks can’t be donated to shelters for hygienic reasons, making this important item even more difficult to supply to those who need it the most.

Bombas offers its consumers durable, long-lasting and comfortable socks, and for every pair of Bombas socks purchased, an additional pair of specially-designed socks is donated to organizations supporting those in need, like Coalition for the Homeless. What started out as a simple collaboration with a few organizations and nonprofits to help individuals without housing security has quickly become a bona fide giving movement. Bombas now has approximately 3,500 Giving Partners nationwide.

Though every individual’s experience is unique, there can frequently be an inherent lack of trust of institutions that want to help—making a solution even more challenging to achieve. “I’ve had people reach out when I’m handing them a pair of socks and their hands are shaking and they’re looking around, and they’re wondering ‘why is this person being nice to me?’” Robbi Montoya—director at Dorothy Day House, another Giving Partner—told Bombas.

Donations like socks are a small way to create connection. And they can quickly become something much bigger. Right now over 1,000 people receive clothing and warm food every night, rain or shine, from a Coalition for the Homeless van. That bit of consistent kindness during a time of struggle can help offer the feeling of true support. This type of encouragement is often crucial for organizations to help those take the next difficult steps towards stability.

This philosophy helped Bombas and its abundance of Giving Partners extend their reach beyond New York City. Over 75 million clothing items have been donated to those who need it the most across all 50 states. Over the years Bombas has accumulated all kinds of valuable statistics, information, and highlights from Giving Partners similar to the Coalition for the Homeless vans and Dorothy Day House, which can be found in the Bombas Impact Report.

In the Impact Report, you’ll also find out how to get involved—whether it’s purchasing a pair of Bombas socks to get another item donated, joining a volunteer group, or shifting the conversation around homelessness to prioritize compassion and humanity.

To find out more, visit BeeBetter.com.

This article originally appeared on 02.07.19


Anyone who owns a dog can attest to the amazing comfort they provide during times of stress or discomfort. Research shows that dogs have a biological effect on us that elevates our levels of oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone."

Unfortunately, most of the time, dogs aren't allowed in the place where people need comfort the most: hospitals. Even though evidence suggests that that visiting with a pet while hospitalized improves a patient's mood while reducing their anxiety.

A story shared by Reddit user Mellifluous_Username on the online forum is going viral because of the lengths he and his dog went to to visit his sick wife.

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Animals & Wildlife

Horse ranch raises $17K to rescue two mustangs from abuse—thanks to a viral Facebook post

Clare Staples and her Skydog Sanctuary have saved hundreds of wild mustangs and burros, bringing them back to a freedom they deserve

Photos courtesy of Meta Community Voices
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Horses often invoke feelings of passion, freedom, and graceful power. And though they might not get the title of “Man’s Best Friend,” horses share a special bond with humans.

Just ask Clare Staples, founder of mustang and burro rescue organization Skydog Sanctuary who recently raised a whopping $17K to help two horses —simply by writing a heartfelt post on Facebook.

“I grew up in England where there is a huge culture of horse loving people,” she told Upworthy. “When I was growing up I lived in a sort of imaginary land where I rode everywhere on an imaginary horse, which is a bit crazy, but my love of horses was born at such an early age. I'd be going on long car rides with my family and swiveling my head to look in every horse trailer or every field to see if I could see a horse.”



Growing up, horses became Staples’ “happy place.” In particular, she loved watching American TV shows like “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie”, along with other westerns where “you would see a band of wild mustangs gallop through and steal the mares.”

Considering the image as a “romantic symbol of the American West,” Staples was shocked and sad to later discover that the American mustang’s reality was much less glamorous. As she explained, mustangs who run free on public lands get rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management, making more room for mining and livestock interests. “It makes the American government a lot of money and wild horses don't.” These captured horses and burros receive a Bureau of Land Management “BLM” brand, then get sent to kill pens or get auctioned off.

Staples became determined to offer her hooved friends a place of refuge, so she founded Skydog Sanctuary—a 9,000 acre ranch near Bend, Oregon where wild mustangs and burros can live out their lives peacefully in their natural habitat. The sanctuary also has an 11 acre location in California. In addition to rewilding equines, Skydog aims to raise awareness about the plight they face, in order to bring about change.

horse, ranch, barn, Skydog Sanctuary, Facebook

Earlier this year, two young mustangs caught Staples’ eye, as they bore an uncanny resemblance to one of her own horses from Skydog. Sure enough, by looking up their BLM IDs, Staples confirmed they were related. She then posted a Facebook fundraiser to get the siblings reunited.

Within only two weeks, people rallied enough support to reunite the two mustangs—now named Rising Sun and Presley, in homage to Elvis—with their native family.



With around 220 horses and 50 burros to look after, and no grant money, Staples relies heavily on her ever-growing social media community. Luckily, Facebook doesn’t take a percentage of their fundraisers, which gives people all the more incentive to donate, since they know exactly where their money is going. Plus, the platform has expanded Skydog’s reach tenfold—with nearly half a million followers, and fundraiser videos racking up nearly 20 million views.

Staples is especially excited for Giving Tuesday, when Meta, Facebook’s parent company, matches funds up to a total of $8 million dollars. “It means a lot to our followers to know if they donate $10 we're actually getting $20. Every year we just break records for ourselves. It's a really fun day. I feel like Facebook are our partners, because they've helped us grow and then [GivingTuesday] is a real day where we can celebrate them too.”

Connecting with people who care and want to help, combined with the power of social media, gives Skydog the resources needed to rescue horses from the very worst of situations. And for Staples and her followers, “seeing them come back to life and watching them heal on this land is just the most beautiful thing. Rewilding them and giving them their freedom and space back is one of the most extraordinary experiences. It never gets old.”

Kids watching their parents dance to Taylor Swift is sheer delight.

We all know parenting can be tough, but if there's one thing that makes the roller coaster of emotions totally worth it, it's seeing our children's faces light up with joy.

Children's smiles are infectious, and not in the scary pandemic kind of a way. There's simply nothing better in this world than the face of a bright-eyed little human beaming with happiness, which is why a recent TikTok trend has people grinning from ear to ear themselves.

The premise is simple: The parent asks the kid to record them dancing to Taylor Swift's "Love Story" with the screen facing away from them (under the guise that the parent dancing needs to see themselves). So instead of recording the parent dancing, it's actually recording the kid's face watching them.

And oh, the love and joy on these kids' faces is so, so sweet to witness. Watch:

@thechavezfamilyy

The end 😭😭 why am I bawling at this trend?! He’s SO CUTE #momsoftiktok #momtok #toddlersoftiktok

That face. OMG.

And check out the encouragement from this little fella:

@themarshhfamily

The end did it for me 🥹😭I birthed such a sweet, loving and encouraging little boy!! #momtok #toddlersoftiktok #taylorswiftchallenge #lovestorychallenge #boymom #toddlermom

Seriously, seeing close-ups of kids' joy should be a daily thing.

@makingthemoffitts

#nationaladoptionmonth #adoptionawareness #thisisadoption #thisisfostercare #adoption #fostercare #makingthemoffitts #lovestorychallenge #taylorswift

Some dads have gotten in on the trend as well. Look at the way this little girl beams at her daddy.

@durbanofamily

Had to jump on the trend! Love this beautiful girl!

Of course, part of the beauty of having kids is you simply never know what they're going to do. While some youngsters gaze lovingly at their parents while they dance, others have a … well … different reaction. Check out this girl's facial expressions:

@haleigh.booth

It’s the side eye at the end for me 😆😂😂😂😂

Hilarious. And because this is the internet, naturally someone had to do the TikTok trend with their dog. Gotta admit, Ellie's toothy grin is pretty darn cute as well.

@elliegoldenlife

This is why I don’t dance 😂

TikTok trends can sometimes be strange, annoying or problematic, but once in a while one comes along that brings people together in surprisingly delightful ways. Seeing people's kids' pure enjoyment watching their parents being silly is simply the best.