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rosepie
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21 Jun 2021, 7:41 am

Hello everyone at wrongplanet.net! I am new here so hoping that I am posting in the right place! :heart:

I am rosepie and I am currently conducting a research project studying autism in girls. I decided to post a questionnaire on this forum to gain more insight into the autism spectrum. I am autistic myself but I am required to make questionnaires and acquire primary research rather than depending on data collected from previously done research.

Please fill out this questionnaire if YOU ARE FEMALE/IDENTIFY AS FEMALE to the best of your ability, and answer as accurately as possible. Please remember this is optional, thank you.

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

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

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?

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

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

Thanks! :D



dragonsanddemons
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21 Jun 2021, 3:44 pm

A lot of this doesn’t really apply to me personally because my autism presents itself in a more “masculine” way, and I was diagnosed in fourth grade. So I may not be very helpful.

Every time I read stuff about “female autism” and how it’s supposed to differ from the “male” variety, it just makes me feel more isolated because I’m supposed to relate but don’t at all. Really the only thing is that I usually am capable of holding off a meltdown until it turns into a shutdown instead, so I haven’t been particularly prone to meltdowns at school and stuff. I don’t really actively “mask,” but I also don’t display my “real self.” What I do is better described as “hiding,” I don’t really have any sort of “mask” to put up in place. Basically I do everything I can to avoid drawing any sort of attention to myself at all, much of it subconsciously (to the extent that I unknowingly conditioned myself not to cough because of the noise it makes). I equate myself to a fake potted plant (a real one at least gets watered occasionally), people are aware of me enough to not run into me or sit in a chair I’m sitting in, I may even get a perfunctory acknowledgement at first, but otherwise I may as well not even exist. And enough of it is subconscious that I don’t even know how not to be essentially invisible. Yet at the same time if anyone does interact with me, it seems that most, if not all, people can tell that I have some sort of developmental disorder right off the bat. I have no idea what makes it so obvious (and therefore can’t consciously do anything to try to hide it), but I do usually get spoken to / treated “differently.” I was diagnosed as a kid before I’d ever even heard the word “autism” before, and it was my first diagnosis. Officially I’m diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, I think primarily because I had no speech delay, I seem to be much less “mild”/“high-functioning” than most others with the same diagnosis and if re-assessed under DSM V, I fully expect I would be diagnosed with ASD level 2.

Hmm, I guess I had more to say than I thought :lol: But I really can’t say much about the effects of the more typical “female autism,” related late diagnosis, etc. since I don’t have any personal experience and don’t know anyone with that presentation well enough to try to speak for their experience (which I typically avoid doing or seeming like I’m trying to do anyway).


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starkid
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25 Jun 2021, 3:43 am

rosepie wrote:
Please fill out this questionnaire if YOU ARE FEMALE/IDENTIFY AS FEMALE to the best of your ability

You are basically inviting males to respond to your questionnaire, so your results may not totally pertain to autistic girls.

Is the research supposed to be about females or isn't it. 'Female' is not the same thing as 'identifying as female.'



magz
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25 Jun 2021, 6:07 am

starkid wrote:
rosepie wrote:
Please fill out this questionnaire if YOU ARE FEMALE/IDENTIFY AS FEMALE to the best of your ability

You are basically inviting males to respond to your questionnaire, so your results may not totally pertain to autistic girls.

Is the research supposed to be about females or isn't it. 'Female' is not the same thing as 'identifying as female.'
There's nothing wrong in wanting your results trans-inclusive, especially as the questions refer to society, not biology.


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25 Jun 2021, 6:35 am

magz wrote:
especially as the questions refer to society, not biology.


So you are assuming that the reason autism presents differently in males and females is solely due to the way that society treats them as opposed to their biology. How do you know that?

And even if that was true, mtf transsexuals have different experience interacting with society than biological females do. For one thing, the majority of them were raised as male and only came out as adults.



Last edited by QFT on 25 Jun 2021, 6:39 am, edited 2 times in total.

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25 Jun 2021, 6:36 am

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

Not quite sure but I guess I display classic autistic traits. I'm more emotional and openly anxious than some of the men I've met who had autism at University. Then again, I also have ADHD and I did meet a guy with both ASD and ADHD and he was extremely similar to me - similar outbursts and sparks of openness while also being very closed off. So maybe the experience is very similar.

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

Not very common! I don't know many women similar to me, even nerdy ones are quite different. I don't think I'm special or better I just notice that I struggle to deeply relate to 99% of people, especially girls, that I meet. I actually relate better to men than women, though I have female friends.

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 agree. There's evidence to suggest the female-male brains are on a spectrum of differences... there's the extreme male brain theory which I'm not a proponent of exactly but I do think gender differences cannot be flatly ignored biologically and culturally speaking.

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

I don't know but I do think I've developed seriously harmful coping mechanism and patterns of thoughts that maybe I wouldn't have if I'd known I had autism growing up. Maybe I would have had less of a damaged self esteem? Or maybe it would have made no difference or actually made things worse as I would have been too young to understand the complexities a diagnosis carries. Maybe I'm better off with a late diagnosis.

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

Don't make them feel bad about themselves. They are trying their best! They are coping with so much more that can be seen and validate their efforts. Validate their experiences and feelings.


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kraftiekortie
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25 Jun 2021, 6:40 am

Autism frequently DOESN’T present differently in females. Though it sometimes does.

There certainly is under-diagnosis amongst females.

What I’m saying is that I don’t believe there is masculine or feminine autism, per se.



Last edited by kraftiekortie on 25 Jun 2021, 6:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

magz
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25 Jun 2021, 6:41 am

QFT wrote:
magz wrote:
especially as the questions refer to society, not biology.


So you are assuming that the reason autism presents differently in males and females is solely due to the way that society treats them as opposed to their biology. How do you know that?

And even if that was true, mtf transsexuals have different experience interacting with society than biological females do. For one thing, the majority of them were raised as male and only came out as adults.

I'm just saying that if the OP states that she wants her results trans-inclusive, she's entitled to have her results trans-inclusive.


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QFT
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25 Jun 2021, 6:46 am

magz wrote:
QFT wrote:
magz wrote:
especially as the questions refer to society, not biology.


So you are assuming that the reason autism presents differently in males and females is solely due to the way that society treats them as opposed to their biology. How do you know that?

And even if that was true, mtf transsexuals have different experience interacting with society than biological females do. For one thing, the majority of them were raised as male and only came out as adults.

I'm just saying that if the OP states that she wants her results trans-inclusive, she's entitled to have her results trans-inclusive.


But you also said "especially as the questions refer to society, not biology".



magz
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25 Jun 2021, 6:52 am

QFT wrote:
But you also said "especially as the questions refer to society, not biology".
It does not refer to reproductive biology in any way.
Now, please, let's end this off-topic exchange.


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magz
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25 Jun 2021, 7:08 am

rosepie wrote:
1) What does your autism look like? How do you think your diagnosis differs from the male experience?
Hyperfocus, sensory issues, difficulty with contexts, not getting "obvious" things despite noticing a lot others miss, lack of "social intuition".

rosepie wrote:
2)How common do you think autism in girls? What makes you think this?
Probably just as common as in boys. A guess.

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?
Probably. I think it requires further study.

rosepie wrote:
4)Does a delayed diagnosis for females with autism limit their ability to meet their full potential?
For some, probably. Not all interventions after diagnoses are helpful.

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?
Let them express themselves and respect their boundaries.


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Star88
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25 Jun 2021, 5:26 pm

My autism presents similarly as in males except my interests aren't particularly restricted. I was diagnosed aged 11 and am now in my 30s. I have a number of friends in their late 20s to early 40s who are being diagnosed now/ who I suspect would be diagnosed if they needed to and I have noticed that they tend to be more concerned with fitting in with peers than I do, and more troubled by social rejection. A couple of them have had previous diagnoses of borderline personality disorder due to presentations that in men would be classed as ASD.



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25 Jun 2021, 6:25 pm

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).



rosepie
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27 Jun 2021, 11:34 am

starkid wrote:
rosepie wrote:
Please fill out this questionnaire if YOU ARE FEMALE/IDENTIFY AS FEMALE to the best of your ability

You are basically inviting males to respond to your questionnaire, so your results may not totally pertain to autistic girls.

Is the research supposed to be about females or isn't it. 'Female' is not the same thing as 'identifying as female.'

Hello, this research is open to cisgender and trans females. Please don't derail the topic as I only want people to respond if they want to answer my questionnaire. Many thanks.



Last edited by rosepie on 27 Jun 2021, 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

rosepie
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27 Jun 2021, 11:35 am

magz wrote:
QFT wrote:
magz wrote:
especially as the questions refer to society, not biology.


So you are assuming that the reason autism presents differently in males and females is solely due to the way that society treats them as opposed to their biology. How do you know that?

And even if that was true, mtf transsexuals have different experience interacting with society than biological females do. For one thing, the majority of them were raised as male and only came out as adults.

I'm just saying that if the OP states that she wants her results trans-inclusive, she's entitled to have her results trans-inclusive.
Thank you! My intention was to be trans-inclusive.



rosepie
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27 Jun 2021, 11:52 am

QFT wrote:
magz wrote:
especially as the questions refer to society, not biology.


So you are assuming that the reason autism presents differently in males and females is solely due to the way that society treats them as opposed to their biology. How do you know that?

And even if that was true, mtf transsexuals have different experience interacting with society than biological females do. For one thing, the majority of them were raised as male and only came out as adults.
This thread is for females who want to answer a questionnaire for my research project. This isn't a thread for debating, so you'll have to go elsewhere.