Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Autism In Adult Females

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Acting Submissive In Social Situations

Autism in Females: How is it Different? | Kati Morton

This is a behavior that women in general are socialized to exhibit, but for those who have trouble figuring out how to behave in social situations, it may actually serve a dual purpose as a compensatory strategy.

Being shy and averting your eye gaze when someone speaks to you is more acceptable for females than males in our society, says Oswald. At the end of the day, its OK to be shy and polite because youre a girl, and so the potential autism traits get missed.

Anxiety Depression And Wellbeing In The Sample

All fourteen participants completed the HADS and GHQ-12. The mean HADS-A score was 13.5 , which lies above the recommended clinical cut-off. All but one participant scored above the cut-off score. The mean HADS-D score was 5.3 , below the clinical threshold, with three participants scoring in the clinical range. The mean GHQ-12 score was 15.4 , below the cut-off indicating mental disorder. Three participants scored in the distress range and a further two fell in the severe range, indicative of severe psychological difficulties at the time of interview.

Autism Symptoms In Adults

Classic symptoms of autism in children are not always present in adults on the spectrum, especially in those underdiagnosed as children . Adults on the spectrum commonly exhibit symptoms related to social and communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors, sensory processing difficulties, and issues with executive function and theory of mind. Short descriptions and lists of common symptoms in adults are listed below .

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Physical And Mental Effects

Tiredness and fatigue are common issues older women deal with.

But along with the general physical tiredness, many women with autism report a tiredness of pretending to be someone else and masking their autism. They simple cant do it anymore

Other physical limitations that could be experienced involve memory and a feeling of reduced brain-processing ability and speed.

Other issues include eyesight and hearing problems, which can greatly increase anxiety of not being able to recognize visual cues and make the individual reluctant to leave the house and maintain an active life.

Characteristics Of Females With Aspergers And High

I Was Diagnosed with Autism in My Late 30

“We think our daughter may have a form of autism due to her severe shyness, excessive need to have things just so, certain rituals she has with food, major touch sensitivity, a lot of anxiety, just to name a few. What are some of the signs to look for to help us decide if an assessment is in order?”Sometime during childhood, a female with AS or HFA characteristics will begin to know she is different compared to her peers. For example:==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning AutismAs young girls, many females with AS and HFA:

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Autism In Girls And Women

Autism is a condition that affects all genders. However, current research shows that the ratio of diagnosed autistic males to females is 1:3 . Why is this the case? Does autism really affect more men than women? There is some debate as to whether the prevalence of autism differs, or if the lower numbers of autistic girls and women are due to other factors.

There have recently been some high-profile female celebrities who have received an autism diagnosis in adulthood including television presenter, Melanie Sykes. The media attention of these cases is helping to further public awareness, as there is still much stereotyping within media representations of autistic people .

Autism In Women: Less Frequent Or Misdiagnosed

Autism in women is said to manifest in a 3:1 ratio instead of 4:1 according to recent studies.

However, it is widely known that autism affects more males than females.

Recent studies have made an effort to understand autism in women and their perception of the condition.

It has been suggested that women may be better masking their condition than men, this has led to the diagnosis of autism being more prevalent in men than women.

The concept of women and autism is barely understood.

Many of them are either misdiagnosed, receive a diagnosis later in life or are left without the autism diagnosis after all.

It has been suggested that women and girls tend to experience autism in a more subtle way than men, which makes the presentation of the behavior barely detectable or that is how clinicians and other people tend to perceive it.

In a study published initially in 2013researchers aimed to examine the differences in behavioral symptoms and cognitive functioning between males and females with autism.

Their results suggested that relative to men, females had greater social communication impairment, lower levels of restricted interests, lower cognitive ability, weaker adaptive skills, and greater externalizing problems.

Another study from 2016 investigated the female autism phenotype and the impact upon the under-recognition of Autism Spectrum Conditions in women.

They did a qualitative analysis and categorized the data in themes and sub-themes.

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Differences In Gender And Sexuality Identification

Sexuality is often discussed within the autistic community, with many observations that identities other than cishetero seem to be more common than is observed in the neurotypical population. There have not been many formal studies on this to date, however members of the community speculate that autistic individuals generally have different ideals, perceptions and desires than neurotypicals or simply do not comprehend or agree with society’s expectation, making them more apt to diverge from the norm.

A study looking at the co-occurrence of ASD in patients with gender dysphoria found 7.8% of patients to be on the autism spectrum. Another study consisting of online surveys that included those who identified as nonbinary and those identifying as transgender without diagnoses of gender dysphoria found the number to be as high as 24% of gender diverse people having autism, versus around 5% of the surveyed cisgender people. A possible hypothesis for the correlation may be that autistic people are less able to conform to societal norms, which may explain the high number of autistic individuals who identify outside the stereotypical gender binary. As of yet, there have been no studies specifically addressing the occurrence of autism in intersex individuals.

How Does Asd Present In Women

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While every girl and woman with ASD is unique, many share certain experiences. According to the Asperger/Autism network, a female with ASD may:

  • Know that she is different, noticing that her interests veer away from those of her peers.

  • Prefer having only one or two friends, or to play in solitude, having an appreciation of and focus on specific interests.

  • Demonstrate an aversion to what is popular, what is feminine, or what is fashionable.

  • Be sensitive to textures, she might prefer to wear comfortable, practical clothing.

  • Appear naive or immature, as she is out of sync with the trends or the social norms.

  • Work very hard to camouflage her social confusion and/or anxiety through strategic imitation, by escaping into nature or fantasy, or by staying on the periphery of social activity.

  • Show different sides of her personality in different settings.

  • Be more prone to releasing her bottled up emotions at home through meltdowns.

  • Be exhausted from the work of deciphering social rules or of imitating those around her to hide her differences.

  • Be anxious in settings where she is asked to perform in social situations. This could lead to mutism, escapism, or a focus on routines and rituals.

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Where Can I Find Support

Given that women tend to be better at masking their symptoms, being an autistic woman can feel particularly isolating. For many women, its an emotional process that involves revisiting childhood behavior and social problems.

Consider reaching out to other autistic women. The Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting women and gender-nonconforming autistic people.

Even if youre not ready to interact with someone, you can find blog posts, first-person stories, and doctor recommendations online.

Development Of Repetitive Or Restrictive Habits

Repetitive habits are another sign of high-functioning autism. Those habits could interfere with the persons ability to do what they need to do or what others want them to do. One type of repetitive habit might be related to movement. The individual might have to tie and untie their shoes multiple times before they are satisfied and are able to start walking or leave the house. Some people develop restrictive habits that interfere with socially accepted living. For example, an individual might refuse to wear any other kind of shirt than a tee shirt. This could impact their health and well-being if they live in a place with cold weather.

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What Causes Autism In Women

Experts arent sure what causes autism. Given the wide range of symptoms and severity, autism is likely caused by several factors, including genetics and environmental factors.

While theres no evidence that the exact cause of autism is different between the sexes, some experts suggest that boys are at a higher chance of developing it.

For example, investigators believe that girls might be born with genetic protective factors that reduce their chance of autism.

Theres also an emerging theory called the extreme male brain theory. Its based on the idea that fetal exposure to high levels of male hormones in the uterus might affect brain development.

As a result, a childs mind might focus more on understanding and categorizing objects, traits that are generally associated with the male brain. This is in contrast to empathizing and socializing, which are more often associated with female brains.

The effect of hormones on brain development isnt well known yet, giving this theory some major limitations. Still, its a start toward understanding how autism develops and why it appears more in boys than girls.

Coping With Change And Uncertainty

Why its time to be honest about autistic women and sex

Difficulties around change of plans and breaks to routines remain as the woman with ASD goes through adulthood.

However, women with autism tend to hide their discomfort and take the stress on themselves and do what is required, but may engage in self-destructive behaviors once at home.

They find it hard to admit their limitations, vulnerability and asking for concessions or help since this would equate to failure for many women with autism.

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Tags: Asperger traits, Aspienwomen, Women and Asperger Syndrome.

Links Disclaimer: Autism Awareness Centre believes that education is the key to success in assisting individuals who have autism and related disorders. While we do the best to ensure the accuracy of all information on our site, Autism Awareness Centre is not responsible for the accuracy and validity of the content linked to on external third party sites.

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Autism Symptoms And Diagnosis In Adults

The mean age of autism diagnosis in the US and UK is 4 to 5, though later diagnoses do occur . Age at diagnosis depends upon variables such as symptom severity, socioeconomic status, and initial parental concerns or misidentification of symptoms as behavioral issues 60065-4/fulltext” rel=”nofollow”> Shattuck et al., 2009). Typically individuals with more severe symptom challenges receive an autism diagnosis early in life compared to those with subtle symptomatic differences . Those diagnosed later in life are thought to have less severe symptoms and a higher likelihood of reaching self-sufficiency and functionality . However, this successful adaptation to symptoms often masks an autism diagnosis and leaves many of these individuals to experience autism-related health issues without understanding the root cause .

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Most Females Are Misdiagnosed Prior To Their Autism Diagnosis

Most females with autism are diagnosed with anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, or bipolar disorder prior to their diagnosis with autism. In general, people with autism do have higher rates of depression and anxiety. They feel like outsiders, aliens, and they struggle with social isolation, all of which can lead to both depression and anxiety. Females are often misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder because they have difficulty regulating their emotions and they struggle with relationships and social interactions. This inability to regulate their emotions often leads to bipolar diagnoses as well.

These factors, combined with the fact that many clinicians dont understand autism well and understand the presentation of autism in females even less well, contribute to a perfect storm in which many clinicians adhere to preconceived notions and give females the diagnoses that are more common to females.

How Does Autism Differ In Males And Females

Behind the Mask: Autism for Women and Girls | Kate Kahle | TEDxAustinCollege

How is autism different in females? The answer to this question is nuanced.

Researchers note that females with autism tend to have stronger social skills than males. This probably allows girls to be more adept at masking or hiding their autistic traits. Many women with autism often describe the ability to imitate social behaviors of others effectively, although the process admittedly takes an emotional and physical toll.

And then, other research seems to indicate that females with autism have more difficulties with social interactions than their male counterparts. And when asked to self-report their levels of empathy, women with autism tended to have the same levels as men with autism.

Interestingly, one small study noted a difference in blood biomarkers between women and men with autism. However, there is not much research comparing males and females with autism.

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First What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder

Lets backtrack: What exactly is autism? Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by differences in social communication and the presence of repetitive and focused interests and behaviors, says Earl. It is important to note as the name describes, that ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning that symptoms will vary in presentation and severity between individuals.

You Dont Seem Autistic To Me

I hear these words often. Sometimes they are said in disbelief or outright mistrust. This skepticism might come from good friends or co-workers in the disability fields. I even hear it from some parents of children on the spectrum who attend my conference presentations or from special educators I train in sensory and social supports for students in their classrooms. Its been 12 years since I was diagnosed with autism when I participated in a study at New York University Hospital. Although Ive earned the badge of veteran to my diagnosis, I still have days when I wish I had a tougher skin. My invisibility as a person with autism is due in large amount to the fact that I am female.

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Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder In Women

Learn why women and girls experience autism differently, and why diagnosis is so important.

Its well known that women frequently fall victim to misdiagnosis in the medical field due to doctors who may overlook important symptoms in cases of both mental and physical health. This happens due to medical biasand the fact that women sometimes experience conditions, like autism spectrum disorder , differently from men.

Like many health conditions, ASD looks a bit different on everyoneand girls and women are diagnosed less overall, though its not a male condition.

This difference in presentation between genders is thought to explain why prevalence rates are heavily skewed towards males compared to females, with boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls, explains Rachel Earl, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, University of Washington/Seattle Childrens Hospital. It also likely explains why girls are more commonly diagnosed later in life than boys. Lack of female representation in autism research is also a longstanding issue, leading to better understanding of autism symptoms in males compared to females. We now understand that autism is indeed observed in women and girls, but that symptoms may look slightly different, Earl reveals.

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This gender disparity explains why ASD has been primarily viewed as a male condition, says Wendela Whitcomb Marsh, M.A., R.S.D, B.C.B.A., award-winning author and adult autism assessment specialist.

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Autism in women:

8. Emotional regulation issues and meltdowns. Women with autism often have problems with emotional regulation. Research has shown that there is a poor connection between the frontal cortex and the amygdala in people with autism.4 Put simply, the amygdala can be thought of as an emotion centre in our brain, as it’s part of our limbic system and our mammalian brain. The frontal cortex can be thought of as our thinking brain, the more rational part of our brain which makes judgments.

Because of the poor connection between the two areas, women with autism may find it hard to rationalise situations and stay in control. Many describe having meltdowns: extreme emotional reactions to situations that might result in losing their temper, crying, or going into shutdown mode.

9. Stimming. Stimming refers to repetitive behaviours. The most obvious behaviours we associate with autism are rocking, hand flapping, repetition of words or phrases, and rocking or spinning. However, women with autism may display other stimming behaviours such as skin picking, feet rubbing, pacing, or hair twirling. People with autism tend to stim more than other people and may not be aware of their behaviours. It is thought that stimming is a self-regulation tool.

Anyone who identified with the above symptoms should seek out professional help. Autism displays similar symptoms to other conditions and a formal diagnosis can help establish whether or not autism may be at play.

References

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