Authors: Lisa Watson and Sharon Grattan
Date: March 1st, 2021
We are going to talk about Autistic Women and Girls.
When you think of autism do girls and women come to mind? I remember when my son was diagnosed in 2008 it seemed there were far fewer girls than boys attending his autism program. “Girls are less likely to be diagnosed with autism than boys (the rate is about 1:4), but this isn’t because fewer girls are autistic” (Vicky Ryan, 2020). Flash forward to 2021 and our society is getting better at recognizing autistic girls and women, but we still have a long way to go.
Why is it important to talk about the lack of diagnosis in women and girls?
Many women have gone undiagnosed throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Often, it is when their child is being assessed for autism, that they realize a lot of their traits and behaviours overlap with their child. They identify the same behaviours in their childhood that were dismissed or told were unacceptable and learned to repress those traits to people please or fit in socially.
Many women struggle with their mental health throughout most of their lives and have been told they have a wide variety of mental health diagnoses like Anxiety, Bipolar Personality Disorder (BPD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Depression, and have a general lack of understanding of who they are at their core, feel often misunderstood and labelled as overly-sensitive, emotional, empathic, or hypochondriac.
Girls learn at an early age to mask and often keep masking well into their adult life. It is often when they remove the mask that they realize they do not know who they are and have spent most of their lives trying to fit in socially, while they have lost their own identity of self. Masking can often lead to burnout, which can make executive function and day-to-day tasks very challenging.
From: AutismBC. Read more here: https://www.autismbc.ca/blog/girls-are-autistic-too/