Acting Submissive In Social Situations
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.”
Choosing School Or Work Over Socializing
Because people with autism often find social situations difficult or stressful, they may come up with excuses to avoid them, like work or studying.
“They may be extra rigid in their scheduling,” says Scott-Hudson. “In college dormitories, they often choose to stay in their rooms to avoid having to go to parties or other group activities and may choose to stay into study as a way to avoid social outings. Boys can do it, too, but girls tend to camouflage more of their social avoidance by saying ‘Aw, I’d love to go to the party, but I have to study!'”
Why Is It Harder To Diagnose Females With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Diagnosing autism is based on observation and its correct definition. However, the lack of a reliable test to test for autism and the general acceptance of autism symptoms as behavioral disorders make it difficult to diagnose autism in women. The creation of existing tests based on pre-existing concepts also causes this misconception. Because of the fact that it is prepared on the basis of the male population.
The fact that autism in women has a different course than autism in men causes women to be misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. Autism in women does not fully meet the current diagnostic criteria. This shows that the diagnostic criteria are lacking in terms of both gender and age.
Camouflaging, imitating or masking are methods frequently used by women with autism. They use it to adapt to social life. Thats why they often come up when discussing the issue of female autism. While women with autism camouflage their strange behavior in order to adapt to the society they live in, this causes autism symptoms to be misdiagnosed. As an attitude they develop against social pressure, they can hide their socio-communicative disorders or mask them to some extent.Especially women at the high-functioning end of autism are quite successful in this regard. Although they cannot make sense of social communication, they are strong in imitation at this point.
You May Like: Is There A Treatment For Autism
Great Strengths And Abilities
In general, people with autism are honest and dependable most are focused on their work and are rarely distracted by social activities or outside interests.
Quite a few have exceptional talents in areas such as computer coding, mathematics, music, drafting, organizing, and visual arts. While it can be tough for autistic adults to set up and manage their own space and schedules, many are outstanding bosses and employees.
Some corporations have started to recognize the value of actively recruiting and hiring autistic individuals a few include:
- Freddie Mac
Autism In Women: Why Its Different And What To Look Out For
In many areas of life, and particularly healthcare, men are seen as the standard and women suffer as a result as it is assumed female bodies function in the same way. We know that heart attacks and strokes, for example, present differently in women than they do men and this gap in knowledge can have devastating consequences for women.
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is similar in that many studies have shown that autism presents differently in women than it does men. Sadly, as with many womens issues, there is a stark lack of scientific research in this area. However, we think it is important to outline what we do know about autism in females so that youre better able to spot signs of autism either in yourself or others. This is an extremely nuanced and complex topic and we encourage further research on everything we will briefly mention in this introductory article.
Read Also: Can High Functioning Autism Live Normal Life
Issues When Diagnosing Asd In Women:
As there are no reliable biomarkers of autism, the condition is diagnosed behaviourally i.e. based on observation and description of the core characteristics impacting everyday functioning to a clinically significant degree. A fundamental issue with the current diagnostic procedure is that behavioural markers used as diagnostic criteria are established based on pre-existing conceptions of what autistic behaviours look like. These criteria have been developed based on the predominantly male populations previously identified as autistic. Evidence would suggest that it is under-diagnosed in women because women express their autism in ways which do not meet these current diagnostic criteria, although further examination of the characteristics and their impact across all genders and ages is needed.
Female Autism Phenotype and the component of camouflaging , in particular, often come up when discussing this issue.
View Our Asperger Syndrome Books
Our curated collection features only the top titles.
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.
Don’t Miss: I Think I Might Be Autistic
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 .
Social Communication And Interaction Symptoms
Autistic children and adults often have difficulty connecting with others.
This can result in a range of symptoms, such as:
- inability to look at or listen to people
- no response to their name
- resistance to touching
believe that women and girls are more likely to camouflage or hide their symptoms. This is particularly common among females at the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum.
Common forms of camouflaging include:
- forcing yourself to make eye contact during conversations
- preparing jokes or phrases ahead of time to use in conversation
- mimicking the social behavior of others
- imitating expressions and gestures
While both autistic males and autistic females can camouflage their symptoms, it appears to be more common in women and girls. This could explain why theyre less likely to be diagnosed as autistic.
Its important to note that studies looking at differences between autism in women and men have been very small or flawed. Experts still dont have any definitive information about these differences, including whether theyre real or just a result of camouflaging.
A large review comparing behaviors between autistic males and females reported that autistic females may present lower cognitive ability and adaptive functions, but generally levels are similar to autistic males.
Additionally, autistic females were reported to have increased externalizing behaviors. But another study reported that autistic males have greater externalizing behaviors.
Also Check: Is Greta Thunberg Actually Autistic
Theories On Autism In Women
We have covered so far how boys/men get diagnosed at a much higher proportion than girls/women, but why is that?
Is there some sort of protective factor against females?
Are males more prone to autism?
Well, the National Autistic Society suggests there are various theories as to why it seems that autism is more common in males than females.
Here are some of the theories:
- There is a female autism phenotype. As we have discussed, it appears that females have characteristics that do not fit the profile associated with males. This may be due to the instruments used to assess females since they are based on male characteristics.
- Autism is an exaggeration of normal gender differences.
- The theory of autism contemplates the differences in male and female brains, indicating that there is an effect of fetal testosterone while the brain is developing in its first stages.
- Biological factors such as genetics and sex chromosomes that may indicate why males have a higher prevalence of autism.
- Females seem to be better camouflaging their difficulties.
- Autism traits in females are under-reported by teachers in their first stages.
According to a recent study from 2019 performed in female mice, have suggested that fetal female mice can remain unaffected or resist a maternal antibody that triggers brain abnormalities and autism behaviors in males.
However, when a second immune molecule is added then females also start displaying the behaviors.
How To Treat Autism In Adulthood
There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan because people with autism have different experiences. Treatments are often aimed at reducing challenges that interfere with their quality of life or daily function.
According to Hanks, the following therapies may be helpful for adults with autism:
- Speech therapy, for individuals who have trouble communicating or interacting with others.
- Psychotherapy, to help with mental health conditions.
- Occupational therapy, for people who have difficulty processing sensory information like sounds and textures or those who struggle with independence.
“Unfortunately, the availability of treatment, support, and services for adults with ASD is substantially less than for children,” Fisher says.
There are plenty of interventions for children with autism because their brains are still forming compared to that of older ages, therefore treatments are more likely to be effective.
“Our field has become increasingly aware of the need to expand and improve adult autism services, and the situation is getting better, but much more needs to be done,” Fisher says.
Don’t Miss: Can Autism Be Caused By Emotional Trauma
What Are The Symptoms Of Autism
Autism symptoms usually appear in early childhood, before the age of 2. For example, infants may not make eye contact. In some cases, they might show indifference toward their parents.
Around age 2, they may start to show signs of aggression, fail to respond to their name, or start taking steps backward in their language development.
Still, autism is a spectrum disorder, and not all autistic children display these symptoms. Generally, though, autism symptoms tend to involve problems with social interactions and behavioral patterns.
Could You Be A Woman With Undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder
We are increasingly discovering that women with autism present in different ways to men with autism, which often means their symptoms can be overlooked. Autism spectrum disorder affects women in many ways but if you find yourself taking an online test for ASD, you may find that the questions do not resonate with your experience.
I have put together a list of symptoms based on what I have learned from working with numerous women with ASD. The list is not designed to be a diagnostic tool but it may be a starting point to help you establish whether or not you display a significant amount of ASD symptoms.
I have broken the list of symptoms down into various categories, the first of which is “social.” Women with ASD often struggle socially, feeling uncomfortable in social situations, finding it hard to work out people’s motives, and feeling exhausted and overwhelmed after socially interacting. On the flip side, they tend to be excellent at mimicking other people and learning to “pass” as normal.
It can be difficult for a woman with ASD to establish whether she has ASD or is socially anxious. The following list may help you work out whether ASD could explain some of your social difficulties.
Have you, or do you currently find yourself:
If you identify with several of the above, and if they have caused you problems socially, it may be worth exploring how ASD presents in women in greater detail. For information and support please visit:
Also Check: What Is Eye Gaze In Autism
Tip : Manage Anxiety And Depression
Some people find that anxiety and depression go hand in hand with symptoms of ASD. For example, difficulty relating to others can lead to feelings of anxiety. Increased anxiety can, in turn, make it even harder to communicate. You might even feel so flustered that you cant form sentences.
Feelings of isolation can also trigger depression. But there are steps you can take to manage your mood and improve how you feel.
Stay active. Exercise is good for the mind and eases stress. Some studies show that vigorous exercise can be especially useful for helping adults with ASD manage aggression. Find an aerobic exercise that fits neatly into your routine and wont potentially throw your schedule into chaos. It may be something as simple as going for daily walks or runs. Make sure its something you enjoy, so youre more likely to stick to it.
Rely on close friends. Socializing can also be good for your mood, as long as the people youre with dont stress you out. Find people who share your interests. Thanks to the Internet, its easy to find people in your local area who share your interests. If possible, look for conventions or other gatherings where people who share your hobby come together and interact in person.
Affordable Online Therapy
Need urgent help? .
First Lets Run Through Some Common Signs Of Autism In Adults:
finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
getting very anxious about social situations
finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own
seeming blunt, rude or not interested in others without meaning to
finding it hard to say how you feel
taking things very literally for example, you may not understand sarcasm or phrases like “break a leg”
having the same routine every day and getting very anxious if it changes.
You May Like: What Is The Best Pet For An Autistic Child
Raising Awareness Of The Spectrum
Increasing awareness of ASD in general helps to dismantle the stigma, says Dr. Lagoy. It helps people understand the disorder more and be less judgmental and stigmatizing to those with it, he says.
For women who are diagnosed with ASD in later life, more awareness and less stigma can be extremely empowering.
It can help explain a lot of things for individuals, and also helps empower them to understand themselves better, says Dr. Lagoy. People tend to look down on individuals with autism, however, they have many unique and positive qualities that should not be overlooked. We should value everyone for their unique gifts.
The Differences Among Men And Women With Autism
While focusing on the factors that may affect this sex ratio, its important to remain mindful of a possible diagnostic bias. When it comes to autism and women, research suggests that girls receive diagnoses later in life. This means that female autism symptoms may be tougher to spot. As reported by Spectrum, girls are often diagnosed only if they showcase significant social impairments. Researchers are concerned that females who are more mildly affected are being missed.
Since signs of autism in women may not be as obvious, and because doctors, teachers, and parents often associate autism with boys, a significant number of girls and women with autism may be overlooked.
Many of the tools used to diagnose autism are also based on observations of behaviors in boys and men, and since autism may look different in females, the current sex ratio is likely inaccurate. However, even if this diagnostic bias was overcome, men would still likely be diagnosed more often than women. This theory was supported by research presented at the 2015 International Meeting for Autism Research. When scientists followed children from infancy and repeatedly screened for autism to minimize this bias, a three-to-one sex ratio was still found.
In terms of biological variables, the brains of individuals with autism tend to show gene expressions that are more typical among males than females. Women may also be somewhat protected compared to males in regard to genetic mutations.
You May Like: How Does An Autistic Person See The World
Autistic Women And Girls
More men and boys are currently diagnosed as autistic than women and girls. This is changing slowly but surely, as more women and girls are being diagnosed as autistic.
Attitudes towards autism and gender are changing, although we still have a long way to go. Many autistic women and girls are still struggling to get the support they need.
Here, we explain more about the gender diagnosis gap, share stories from autistic women and girls, and share some theories on why more men and boys are being diagnosed as autistic.
You can also visit our gender identity page here, where we look at autism and gender identity in more detail.
Understanding Autism In Women
Autism is rarer in females than in males. In fact, one major researcher in the field, Simon Baron-Cohen, wrote that autism is a manifestation of the extreme male brain.
There does seem to be a real difference in the number of females who are actually diagnosed with autism versus the number of males. But this so-called “female protective effect” is still being explored.
In recent years, it has become clear that autism is underdiagnosed in females. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Girls are more likely to internalize anxiety related to autism instead of behaving aggressively, they are more likely to become depressed or anti-social.
- Most cultures make it acceptable for girls to be “shy” whereas shyness is less acceptable in boys.
- When girls with autism focus exclusively on a particular interest, they are more likely than boys to choose a socially acceptable fascination such as unicorns or dolls.
Because fewer females have autism, fewer females with autism have been included in studies. More attention is now being paid to how autism manifests in females.
Also Check: Are People Born With Autism