An article published in the Daily Mail UK last week reported on the findings of research carried out by University College London and Bristol Universities on the subject of undiagnosed autism in girls. It stated that many young girls are not being diagnosed with autism due to the fact that they can better hide the signs of autism than boys. The article can be read here.
Having read the article, Autism Daily Newscast spoke to Olley Edwards, a UK born actress and published author who is campaigning for diagnostic criteria to be put in place to better diagnose young girls on the autistic spectrum. Olley, now aged 31 has undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. She is also mum to 3 girls, two of whom are autistic.
She is a passionate campaigner who has self published a book, ‘Why Aren’t Normal People Normal?’, as well as acting and directing ‘The Kindest Label’ film, which she self-funded to promote awareness about female Asperger’s.
Olley told Autism Daily Newscast:
“I was delighted at the article published by the Daily Mail last week regarding the under-diagnoses of females on the Autistic spectrum”
Olley then goes on to say how she felt after reading the article:
“It was as if at last everything I was battling for both personally and publicly was out in the open. It was a huge relief. I had hoped for years that someone would stand up for the thousands upon thousands of girls and women who were left unsupported, but I soon realised that if I wanted change I would have to do it myself.”
Olley believes that positive change is happening, especially with such an informative article published on research into why fewer girls than boys are being diagnosed. However upon reading the online comments published after the article Olley then told Autism Daily Newscast that she now realises just how much more information and awareness is needed for better understanding of females who are on the autistic spectrum.
There are 205 online comments about the article with people fiercely debating on both sides of the fence. Many believing that autism signs cannot be hidden. Olley continues:
“Comments being written such as ‘fake diagnosis’, ‘explains why women are crazy’ and in particular ‘this is to feed the medical companies for drugs’ just shows the level of ignorance that is out there. This level of ignorance is utterly deplorable!”
Olley was very firm and open with her feelings when talking with us. She stated that “there is nothing fake about the level of lifelong stress and burn out of females on the spectrum who are grasping at every social cue to remain ‘appropriate‘”.
Olley also is fiercely adamant that the comments relating to medication ‘curing’ autism are potentially harmful. She told Autism Daily Newscast that the ‘cure ‘is diagnosis. This is how she describes it.
“Imagine you have been invited to watch a play. You didn’t ask to watch it and you sit at the back and hope to keep a low profile. Then you are thrown on stage with other actors who have rehearsed this scene together for months. But you haven’t a clue what to say next, where the play is going or how it started…Then imagine that happening to you everyday.in every situation for 30yrs”
Olley believes that women and girls should be informed and better educated about autism. She told us that for women with or without a diagnosis they can be helped and supported by attending talks on the subject, reading books and generally finding out as much information as they can.
A few months ago Olley started an online petition for all women who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anorexia and anxiety to be screened for undiagnosed Autism. Olley ends by saying
“And yes I’ve had all three – nothing fake here”