This Teen Is Using TikTok To Educate Others About Autism
Paige Layle has gone viral on TikTok with her videos educating others about autism.
The 19-year-old is using her social media influence to educate her followers about what it is like living with autism as a female.
Layle's first video on TikTok last year was calling out others on the platform making fun of a scene featuring two people with autism on the U.K. television show 'The Undateables'.
The teenager from the U.S. has since posted numerous videos about her own autism, but a four-part series she posted specifically about how autism affects girls has been viewed more than 8.5 million times.
Layle was diagnosed with autism at the age of 15 and said the late diagnosis is largely in part because early studies of autism were on boys, not girls.
"This makes it harder for anyone else to be diagnosed because everything is based off the male brain," she said in the first video.
"I was 15 when I got diagnosed, and that's considered early for a girl.
"I have a guy friend who's autistic and he was two when he got diagnosed."
Another reason girls are typically diagnosed much later than boys is because they are better at 'masking' their autistic behaviours, Layle said.
"It's (masking) is so hard to explain when you are not autistic and you don't understand what it is like," she said.
"When you are in the 'autistic closet' and are not known to be autistic yet... you are like subconsciously know that you are like, weird, you don't know how to act or how to be."
Layle describes the "exhausting" task of masking -- copying how her peers walk, talk, do their hair and even their interests.
"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," she said.
"You just get so used to creating this mask that when it's like, 'hey you can take it off', you're like 'what the frig is underneath it?'"
Layle also stresses the importance of not referring to people with autism as being 'low' or 'high' functioning.
"I know you might think that saying 'oh you're high functioning' is a compliment -- it's not a compliment," she said.
"It's actually a reminder that I am just masking and it is so hard."
After years of hiding herself, Layle is now embracing her autistic traits and has made her New Year's Resolution to stop masking.
"Not, you know, pretending I'm someone I'm not and just being more myself."