How a 20-Year-Old Is Using TikTok to Change How We Talk About Autism

Paige Layle

Paige Layle wants to change the way people talk about mental disorders. The 19-year-old has gone viral on TikTok after explaining to her viewers the myths and realities of living with the disorder.

A 20-year-old is educating her TikTok viewers on the realities of living as an autistic woman. And Paige Layle says people have the wrong idea.

"Girls end up showing different traits than guys do," Layle said in a four-part explainer series titled, "Autism in Girls."

"Which is why it can take us years to get diagnosed."

Layle, an eyelash technician from Ontario, told Buzzfeed News that she became frustrated by how many people assumed she wasn't autistic because of the way she socialized or presented herself with others. 

She finally decided to put matters into her own hands when she noticed people making TikTok videos imitating or making fun of autistic people. In her videos, she touches specifically on young girl's experiences and how they differ from boys.

"I was 15 when I got diagnosed, and that's considered early for a girl," they said in the video. "I have a guy friend who's autistic and he was 2 when he got diagnosed."

"A main reason as to why girls are so late to get diagnosed is that we are particularly good at one thing that guys are not so good at when it comes to autism."

She then goes on to explain what "masking" means. Layle says that women often "mask" their emotions and adopt other people's traits and behaviors to show them as their own. "You basically feel like an alien and you're really good at hiding it," they said. "Which is why I don't seem autistic."

Layle is unafraid to use the public platform to debunk stereotypes around the disorder and to spread awareness about what it's actually like to live with autism.

Her videos have now garnered millions of views and her audience is only growing. 

"The diagnosis has changed my life for the better. I can understand myself so much better, which is so beneficial for social situations, school/work life, and most importantly being alone. I can now function alone and understand my emotions better," she said.