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rosepie
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03 Jul 2021, 11:05 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
rosepie wrote:
1) What does your autism look like? How do you think your diagnosis differs from the male experience?


I'm diagnosed with Moderate Autism (Level 2 / Significant support), as well as ADHD.
I'm also the single mother of an autistic daughter, aged 24.

My autism looks like ... autism.
I meet 100% of the criteria in the DSM5, not just the minimum number of descriptors.

For example, I am greatly affected by sensory processing disorder. Many people on the spectrum say that sensory issues aren't a big concern for them, but they are for me. Also, I don't know how to mask or compensate in public, beyond being polite to the best of my ability. I don't consider myself an "Aspie" or someone who comes across as high functioning in social settings.

I don't think my diagnosis differs from the male experience of autism at all. In fact my autism seems to differ more from the female experience than the male experience, based on what I've read from other women.


rosepie wrote:
2)How common do you think autism in girls? What makes you think this?


I think it's likely just as common in girls as in boys. I don't believe our sex chromosomes determine whether or not we develop autistic brains in utero. I believe autism is genetic, and we have a neurobiological difference which begins at conception, before our sex / genitals / hormones are even formed. Autism is developmental and present at birth, so I really doubt that social conditioning (gender roles) can cause or change it.

I also believe there were just as many autistic people throughout history as there are today -- maybe even more, because people tend to have fewer children now. It may seem like there are more autistic people currently, but my opinion is that public awareness, screening, and the information age (internet) has led to more people being identified as babies, children, or adults. Many people here on WP say that they didn't know they were autistic until they read other people's experiences online, or saw videos and podcasts. Without that access to information many people would go undiagnosed throughout history, and prior to the last twenty years.


rosepie wrote:
3)Is it fair to say that females with autism are underdiagnosed because autism is increasingly difficult to identify in females because autistic women are extremely resourceful and may be able to adapt and camouflage their condition in order to fit into society?


Autistic women are extremely resourceful? Is that cited in the diagnostic criteria for autism? Where did you or others get that idea? I think it's a sexist generalisation, based on outdated gender stereotypes about women and society. '

Many autistic women aren't resourceful, or their coping and masking skills are no different than men's.

I don't think it's fair to promote the misconception that autistic women are resourceful. In fact saying so perpetuates a false myth, and does a disservice to women with unrealistic burdens. We shouldn't be expected to "cope" or be resourceful, and we shouldn't have our challenges dismissed as "something manageable" by virtue of our gender. That makes the problem worse, and allows our doctors to say there's nothing wrong. Most often we are in crisis just like any other autistic person. Our challenges are real; it's never helpful to be petted on the head, or to have the media suggest it's easier for us because of our sex / gender.

Lastly, what does this question suggest about autistic boys and men? To me it undermines them, suggesting that they can't be resourceful, and that they're somehow incompetent or inferior to females in their functioning level. This sets them up for failure and the added pressures of toxic masculinity. :(

I really dislike it when people try to divide autism into subcategories. We all have the same diagnostic criteria. Of course all people present differently on the spectrum, but gender isn't a defining feature.

rosepie wrote:

4)Does a delayed diagnosis for females with autism limit their ability to meet their full potential?


Yes and no, but again ... it's the same for men with delayed diagnosis.

Yes --- it's limiting because we won't have access to proper therapists, and we won't have a clear understanding of why we're different. This can hurt our self-concept. Likewise, we won't have access to necessary accommodations in school and at work.

No --- it doesn't always limit our abilities, because all autistic people learn a great deal of resilience. Some people here feel that early diagnosis was damaging. They feel like they were labelled from a young age, and treated differently from their peers.


rosepie wrote:

5)What advice would you offer to parents and professionals on how they can help autistic women achieve their full potential in life?


The same advice I'd give to parents or professionals about their autistic sons: learn about their strengths, accommodate their sensory needs, don't restrict stimming, and don't assume the child has a limited IQ / potential. Understand meltdowns and shutdowns, giving time and space for both. Parents and professionals (doctors, insurance companies) should also learn more about the phenomenon of "autistic burnout", to better support and validate autistic people as they engage in the workforce or raise families of their own.

I also believe we need more access / funding for diagnosis and treatment (Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and mental health providers for our comorbid conditions).


Hello Isabella. There is certainly a lot to unpack in this response you have given to question three. Firstly, asking 'Is it fair to say that females with autism are underdiagnosed because autism is increasingly difficult to identify in females because autistic women are extremely resourceful and may be able to adapt and camouflage their condition in order to fit into society?' isn't a generalisation. If it were a generalisation it would read as 'autistic women are extremely resourceful'.


I do agree that many autistic women are not resourceful, but this isn't to say there are none who are. I know many autistic women who are imaginative, clever, creative, resilient, and resourceful. Many women are so sophisticated at camouflaging themselves that they don't get diagnosed until later in life.

Resourcefulness is not a diagnostic criteria for autism in women, but it is well discussed by psychologists. Autistic girls (NOT ALL) (and some boys) appear to develop coping mechanisms that mask their problems at school, such as becoming quiet observers and social chameleons, and by internalising frustrations and anxiety until they get home. Many (NOT ALL) girls with autism observe, analyse and imitate; a girl with aspergers has a facade, the makes her highly successful in what she does. This is done by intellect, not intuition.

I am not actually 'perpetrating' anything. This wording makes it appear as if I'm endorsing something. It also implies that I have some sort of hidden agenda. I am writing an academic essay about the underdiagnosis of autistic women and how this may limit opportunities/access to support available to them. In order to have a balanced argument, I need to examine counter-arguments such as the possibility that women are not as commonly diagnosed because they use highly sophisticated systems such as 'masking' which enable them to successfully hide their symptoms during screenings.

What does this question suggest about autistic men? Well, it simply doesn't suggest anything. There is nothing in the question that states autistic men are less resilient/are resilient because this is a thread about autistic women and not autistic men.

Thank you for answering my questionnaire so honestly. I just don't want people to think that I am trying to diminish autistic women. I am an autistic woman and care a lot about women's health. The challenges of autistic women ARE REAL as you say. I don't expect autistic women to cope, or be resourceful. I want them to have access to the right support in order to be able to cope and be resourceful and have a fufilling life. :D



Sweetleaf
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03 Jul 2021, 1:14 pm

rosepie wrote:
Resourcefulness is not a diagnostic criteria for autism in women, but it is well discussed by psychologists. Autistic girls (NOT ALL) (and some boys) appear to develop coping mechanisms that mask their problems at school, such as becoming quiet observers and social chameleons, and by internalising frustrations and anxiety until they get home. Many (NOT ALL) girls with autism observe, analyse and imitate; a girl with aspergers has a facade, the makes her highly successful in what she does. This is done by intellect, not intuition.


For me I am female and had the whole coping mechanisms to mask my problems at school...and would often then have meltdowns when I was came home. I don't know if I could have masked better to be entirely honest, I didn't really try because I didn't want to.


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rosepie
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03 Jul 2021, 3:00 pm

Sweetleaf wrote:
rosepie wrote:
Resourcefulness is not a diagnostic criteria for autism in women, but it is well discussed by psychologists. Autistic girls (NOT ALL) (and some boys) appear to develop coping mechanisms that mask their problems at school, such as becoming quiet observers and social chameleons, and by internalising frustrations and anxiety until they get home. Many (NOT ALL) girls with autism observe, analyse and imitate; a girl with aspergers has a facade, the makes her highly successful in what she does. This is done by intellect, not intuition.


For me I am female and had the whole coping mechanisms to mask my problems at school...and would often then have meltdowns when I was came home. I don't know if I could have masked better to be entirely honest, I didn't really try because I didn't want to.

Hello Sweetleaf and thanks for your comment.

Masking is definitely a universal experience for a lot of autistic girls, including myself. It can be exhausting and draining, and lead to meltdowns. Autistic women shouldn't have to hide their needs or their feelings in order to get through the day. They should be able to express themselves in whatever way works best for them. You should never feel that you should have 'masked better'.



Sweetleaf
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03 Jul 2021, 3:36 pm

rosepie wrote:
Sweetleaf wrote:
rosepie wrote:
Resourcefulness is not a diagnostic criteria for autism in women, but it is well discussed by psychologists. Autistic girls (NOT ALL) (and some boys) appear to develop coping mechanisms that mask their problems at school, such as becoming quiet observers and social chameleons, and by internalising frustrations and anxiety until they get home. Many (NOT ALL) girls with autism observe, analyse and imitate; a girl with aspergers has a facade, the makes her highly successful in what she does. This is done by intellect, not intuition.


For me I am female and had the whole coping mechanisms to mask my problems at school...and would often then have meltdowns when I was came home. I don't know if I could have masked better to be entirely honest, I didn't really try because I didn't want to.

Hello Sweetleaf and thanks for your comment.

Masking is definitely a universal experience for a lot of autistic girls, including myself. It can be exhausting and draining, and lead to meltdowns. Autistic women shouldn't have to hide their needs or their feelings in order to get through the day. They should be able to express themselves in whatever way works best for them. You should never feel that you should have 'masked better'.


I don't feel like I should have, but just not sure if I would have been good at it or not. Main thing for me is it may have been helpful to know I had autism growing up and mostly that it was perfectly ok. But did not get a diagnoses till adulthood so I spent my childhood and teens wondering 'what's wrong with me, why am I different than other people' even kinda blamed it on myself which as you can imagine did not really help my mental health. I got bullied but I think my worst bully was myself...if that makes sense.

Now days though my mental health is much better.


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He spins a web for you
And if you wish upon a spider
All your wishes will all come true
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cornerpiece
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03 Jul 2021, 4:58 pm

1) What does your autism look like? How do you think your diagnosis differs from the male experience?

Based on one person who was honest with me, he said that in group discussions I am somewhat disconnected, poorly follow conversation, fail to insert a timely and appropriate comment, and my reactions are delayed. My facial expressions also betray that I am partially disconnected and have some other thoughts in my head, that are unrelated to what the group is discussing.
These things are less true in 1:1 conversations. Many people that had personal chats with me, said I was "deep". Or ar least "interesting".
Also one person said that I was "afraid of people".
(All that was 10-15 years ago)

My guess is that my autism differs from the male one by the huge amount of effort to blend-in and masking. There was a TED video about camouflaging in girls and that was the first time when I saw a woman who I related to, for the first time in my life.

2)How common do you think autism in girls? What makes you think this?

I dont know and I cannot know. Even that girl from the TED talk - I wouldn't have guessed that she was autistic. And only now, knowing so much more about autism, I suspect that my mother is also autistic, and not just "unsocial" like her friends and family say. She lacks this ability to say the right thing at the right time, and keeps following me when I give cues that I want to be alone, or suddenly disappears when I think we are doing something together. She also has no ability to show emotional support, to behave like an adult, or to do things the way we agreed to do. I recognize all of that now because I learned all these social and executive skills at work and group therapy sessions. She did not have this opportunity in her life.

3) Is it fair to say that females with autism are underdiagnosed because autism is increasingly difficult to identify in females because autistic women are extremely resourceful and may be able to adapt and camouflage their condition in order to fit into society?

Not sure. I think my autism or at least some kind of condition could have been seen clearly before the age of 10, if it wasn't 80s. I was alone, girls were ignoring me, only some lonely boys played with me, and I had weird behaviors and obsessions, like looking at the pavement when walking, counting tiles, avoiding to step on gaps between tiles, trying to walk on the left side of the pavement, stepping on stones with the middle of my left foot... So much attention was directed downwards and not to the world around me.
At later age, attention shifted to other kids, and I was watching social situations from a distance, unable to join them because other kids would just walk off and leave me behind, and would not respond to my invitations to play, or quickly find my games uninteresting. Only towards late teenage years, with the help of some online friends, I learned how to talk to other people and be interesting.

But until then - I think it should have been pretty obvious.

4) Does a delayed diagnosis for females with autism limit their ability to meet their full potential?

I believe so.

5)What advice would you offer to parents and professionals on how they can help autistic women achieve their full potential in life?

To help learn socialize in early age, when it is easier. To explain that nothing is wrong with her, she is just different. To point out some successful autistic women (and men) who did well in their later life. To show emotional support and teach how to show it in return.

Very important - to find out what does she love to do and who she would like to become, and help organize the right kind of courses/schools etc, because she may not be able to get what she wants all by herself.

My passion, that could have become a profession, was totally missed by my parents and everyone else. And later it was too late. I do not wish this to anyone, autistic or not.



MushroomPrincess
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16 Jul 2021, 10:21 pm

starkid wrote:
You are basically inviting males to respond to your questionnaire, so

hmmmmm I'm sorry, I'm not really sure how you managed to draw that conclusion. Could you explain your reasoning?



piggy1405
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17 Jul 2021, 12:46 pm

1) What does your autism look like? How do you think your diagnosis differs from the male experience?
I find it difficult to make friends, I don’t understand feelings at all, I struggle with social situations (especially small talk), I notice patterns (a little obsessed with car registration plates), I like routine and get very upset if someone changes it, I can’t give eye contact. I think that all diagnoses are slightly different because everyone has different autistic traits. I do think that males are diagnosed quicker than girls because girls mask it.

2)How common do you think autism in girls? What makes you think this?

I think autism in girls is as common as it is in boys, I just think that it takes longer to diagnose girls. That’s just my opinion though. I’m 16 and was diagnosed fairly recently and that’s because I have learnt to mask my autistic traits in order to try and fit in with the majority of society. for example, I have struggled with eye contact forever and I developed a technique, so I pick somewhere in between the eyes and I look there instead of someone’s eyes and literally no one notices.

3)Is it fair to say that females with autism are underdiagnosed because autism is increasingly difficult to identify in females because autistic women are extremely resourceful and may be able to adapt and camouflage their condition in order to fit into society?

Yeah definitely.

4)Does a delayed diagnosis for females with autism limit their ability to meet their full potential?

I don’t know whether you would class being 16 and diagnosed as a delayed diagnosis however I do. I feel like I have wasted 16 years of my life trying to fit in when I wasn’t supposed to. There is a whole community of people who I actually relate to, and I don’t have to try and pretend to be someone different. I can’t speak for anyone else however I feel relieved that I finally got a diagnosis and I do think that a delayed diagnosis limited my ability to meet my full potential because so much of my energy went into trying to fit in with other people who aren’t like me.

5)What advice would you offer to parents and professionals on how they can help autistic women achieve their full potential in life?

I have always mainly struggled with social situations and therefore I would advise that parents and professionals expose autistic women to social situations as soon as possible. Also, if parents have a friend who is autistic, I suggest that they meet because I felt so alone for so long and now that I know autistic people, I realise that I have never been alone, I just hadn’t met the people who understood me most.



Millipede
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19 Jul 2021, 4:41 pm

Hello, here are my answers if you still need more data. If not, I hope it might still be useful to others.

Quote:
1) What does your autism look like? How do you think your diagnosis differs from the male experience?

Although I received a late diagnosis, I believe my autism is very similar to the typical male experience, at least when it comes to the diagnosis criteria. My symptoms are all "textbook autism" and I cannot hide them well.

Quote:
2)How common do you think autism in girls? What makes you think this?

I believe it is as common as in men, I don't believe women have a lower chance of being autistic, the diagnosis criteria might need to be changed to include women with atypical autism.

Quote:
3)Is it fair to say that females with autism are underdiagnosed because autism is increasingly difficult to identify in females because autistic women are extremely resourceful and may be able to adapt and camouflage their condition in order to fit into society?

I cannot speak for other women, but I personally cannot mask well and I have been told often that my autism is obvious. I do believe that it is possible for women to go undiagnosed simply because their symptoms are written off as being shy/modest/traditional rather than autistic.

Quote:
4)Does a delayed diagnosis for females with autism limit their ability to meet their full potential?

Absolutely, being aware of our social differences is extremely important, especially during school and early adulthood. There are life paths that are more beneficial to those with autism that might not be obvious at first, and of course therapy always helps, especially when knowing the reason why you need therapy.

Quote:
5)What advice would you offer to parents and professionals on how they can help autistic women achieve their full potential in life?

The earlier the diagnosis, the better. They shouldn't assume some women and girls aren't autistic simply because they're shy and able to follow social rules. Also, misdiagnosis are too common in teenage girls, the most obvious diagnosis might not be the correct one. Not all autistic women have depression, and those who do might not necessarily need anti-depressants.



AngelL
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19 Jul 2021, 5:10 pm

rosepie wrote:
This isn't a thread for debating, so you'll have to go elsewhere.


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