A female profile for autism

genderAutism is often mistakenly thought of as a condition that affects only males.   Even though some people already knew differently, it only recently became mainstream knowledge that there is a different profile of autism that can fit women.

Consequently many women have gone undiagnosed as autistic for years, and some continue to do so.  So what can be done to help more women get a diagnosis, and could this lead to some men being undiagnosed?

The female profile is often characterised with these traits:

  • Having shutdowns, and going `into themselves` when upset or angry.
  • Being very gentle, and overly compassionate.
  • Not having an interest in things females stereo-typically do, such as clothes.
  • Identifying with animals more than people.
  • Being uncomfortable in social situations, but being better able to mask it than men.

These are just some of the traits that can be suggestive of autism in a woman.  The confusing thing is that men can also exhibit these traits, and women can exhibit more typically masculine traits, such as outbursts.   Technically of course there is no such thing as male autism, and female autism, but the majority of women do experience autism differently than men.

The biggest cause of them being undiagnosed is the fact that women are much better at masking their autism, but this can relate back to the Autistic Crash – where autistic people find it too difficult to keep pretending they are somebody they are not when out in public, and they reach a point where they can’t cope anymore, and begin to suffer from depression, severe anxiety or eating disorders.

The fact is autism can be just as difficult for women as it is for men, and if the woman isn’t diagnosed, may be even more difficult.  You can have two women who are close friends, but are never fully open with each other about how anxious and upset they feel about social situations because they simply don`t think the other one will understand.

It is quite common for women to drift through life without any understanding of where their anxieties and issues are coming from; the idea that they might have autism probably wouldn’t even cross their minds because they are so used to the classic, or masculine presentation that is seen all over the media.   This is why many groups, and individuals are trying to work towards a female profile for autism that can be used as a diagnostic tool.

There is some debate as to whether this should be called a female profile, or be given a more gender-neutral name, due to the fact that many men also fit this profile, and there is an obvious risk that they may remain undiagnosed if their traits fit what is known to be a female profile.

But regardless of what name it`s given, it is obvious to everybody involved in the autism community that something needs to be done to help women to obtain a diagnosis, and avoid the years of suffering – not knowing why they think, and feel a certain way.

 

To read Paddy-Joe’s personal opinion on this subject go to http://askpergers.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/male-and-female-autism/

 

  • Leslie Hudson says:

    I hope they are able to identify better markers of Autism in females. I fit the few listed above. The world needs to know it’s not easy, and I may not want to change certain things about me to be like Normies. I like that I am not the typical female. I don’t drool over men, clothes, handbags, and money. I am perfectly fine the way I am. I am in fact overly compassionate towards others, and can tolerate/accept who they are. It would be great for others to adjust to people like me, and see there are more ways than the social accepted norm to do anything in life. =)

  • Annette says:

    I wish they would remove the female trait of not being interested in clothes or makeup etc because I am interested in those things and I know other women on the spectrum who are as well. I also know women who aren’t on the autism spectrum who are “tom-boys” or who aren’t interested in typically female things. I would like to see a list of traits that doesn’t include the ignorant sexist crap because some lists of female traits show we get overlooked because our special interests can appear more like other girls. Whether a woman likes makeup and fashion or not has nothing to do with being autistic. Actually since autism isn’t a mental illness, but a neurological brain difference, an accurate brain scan to diagnose it would be preferable than diagnosing people from a frigging checklist of traits. There are other disorders that have similarities to autism in behavior traits. Some of them are autoimmune conditions and some are mental illnesses. We need accurate tests so that people can get the right kinds of help and educational methods for them.

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