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A late autism diagnosis can lead to life-altering consequences for the person. After all, boys who are diagnosed are more likely to get the educational and social support they need from an early age. This can be instrumental in the sort of person they grow up to become.
Of course, if you have found that you’ve waited years for your diagnosis, and the lack of support you’ve received due to this has affected your life, you may be able to sue your GP for misdiagnosis. That said, for young girls and women who want to get a head start on their diagnosis, this article could help.
Here, we want to describe the common autism symptoms in women and girls, and explain a little bit about why it’s more difficult to get the diagnosis than it is for men. We’ll then provide a bit of advice for getting the diagnosis you want, so take a look…
Before we can understand how autism looks different in girls than in boys, let’s first dive into how autism presents itself in adults. Some common symptoms could include:
For women with autism, it seems that a diagnosis is much trickier due to various reasons we will describe later. For women and girls with autism, it may present in more subtle forms, and these might consist of:
The Guardian released a report in 2018 that demonstrated how gender bias has even made its way into the diagnosis of autism. In fact, the diagnosis ratio of autism between men and women is three to one.
Traditionally, this led people to believe that simply more men have autism, but the truth is autism in girls simply looks different from the stereotype. This has made diagnosis for many women and girls difficult.
There are a number of reasons why girls with autism might not get their diagnosis until much later in life, if at all. These reasons might include:
Autism is characterised by certain symptoms that we’ve described above, however, it may present itself differently in women. For example, flapping hands is a common symptom recognised by doctors, but girls may not exhibit repetitive behaviours like this. Instead, they may be quieter about the repetitive behaviours they do have, rather than outwardly showing them.
A clear sign of autism is having an intense interest in something. However, for many girls with autism, this interest might manifest itself in stereotypically “girly” things, like makeup or horses. This might, therefore, be dismissed as normal by doctors.
For girls with autism, controlling their behaviour in public is something that becomes normal, unlike boys. For example, they might learn to hold eye contact, or be interested in making friends, which can appear “normal”.
This is known as “camouflaging”, and reports have shown that women are more able to mask their social differences perhaps due to increased social pressure to fit in. It might also be surrounded by gendered expectations of social behaviour, alongside their enhanced social skills.
Some classic signs of camouflaging might include:
Of course, there are men with autism who also camouflage to “fit in”. However, it’s shown that women and girls are more liekly to do so, based on the social pressures of women.
ADHD in girls can look similar to ASD on the surface. From struggling to fit into social situations, to trouble navigating friendships, the symptoms seem to reflect one another on the surface.
It’s clear to see that women and girls are not getting the autism diagnoses they deserve. Whether it be due to doctor ignorance, camouflaging, or gender bias, there’s lots behind it. What’s clear to see is that young girls aren’t getting the support they need in education and social life to thrive.
It could also be why many young girls are being bullied at school, leading to depression and anxiety, as well as low self-esteem. Clearly, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
Have you got autism and had trouble getting your diagnosis? Or, perhaps you think you might have ASD and are struggling to get the diagnosis you need. Whatever it may be, be sure to leave your experiences and thoughts in the comments down below.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.
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