Autism spectrum disorder more commonly referred to as autism is a complex developmental condition that effect people’s behavior, social interactions and communication skills. It is currently treated as a having a wide spectrum of both symptoms and severity. Past research has found it to be nearly four times more common in boy; however, recent literature suggests that the story is one of undiagnosed rather than prevalence.
Symptoms for autism tend to appear as early as before 2 years but, some people aren’t diagnosed until later in life when social communication and behavioral symptoms arise. In a general sense the common social communication symptoms are:
- Inability to look at or listen to people
- Resistance to touching
- Inappropriate or no facial gestures
- Trouble recognizing social cues
- Inability to recognize nonverbal forms of communication
When it comes to behavior, people with autism tend to exhibit repetitive patterns that are incredibly difficult to curb. These patterns can be things such as repeating words and phrases to performing repetitive movements and on the more extreme end things like self-harm.
So how and why are things different for women? Well, the thing is the symptoms aren’t much different at all. The issue is society’s perception of women makes it easier for women and girls to hide their symptoms especially individuals who are considered high functioning. The research has shown very little difference in symptoms themselves. Women tend to camouflage through forcing eye contact, preparing before conversations, mimicking behaviors of other and imitating the expression and gestures of those around them. This ability to hide symptoms under the perception of women as quiet or compliant people leads to lower diagnoses but, women are still struggling regardless. Some recent studies have suggested women with autism actually have more social difficulties and emotional problems than their male counterparts.
Available resources have grown as awareness and research have. There are multiple online resources one can reach out to for help for either themselves or others. The Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (https://awnnetwork.org/) is an excellent resource to start with that offers links to education, publications and community support.
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