Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More On Females and ASD

I thought I would write a bit on this gender discrepancy involved in diagnosis of ASD. It is most commonly known or seen in boys, but that doesn't mean that girls don't have ASD. A lot of people seem to think that because less girls are diagnosed, that must mean that for some reason boys are more likely to have ASD compared to girls. This is becoming less true all the time. Girls do get ASD, so it isn't solely a male issue, and a lot of the girls who have ASD don't look like the boys who have it. It is a spectrum, after all, but yet girls seem to have their own set of struggles and symptoms, and especially are less likely to be diagnosed in the first place because they are less likely to act out or have obvious struggles or symptoms.

This is especially true in the upper ranges of functioning, like Aspergers. Aspergers is more known for its social difficulties, but you have to remember when we are comparing ASD males with ASD females, the same truths are going to apply to them as to NT males and females. If you were to think about which were more social creatures, most people would say that females are more social. This isn't true in every case, but generally, the stereotype is that women are the chatty ones. So when we compare ASD males vs females, that rule still applies; females are likely to be more social, but this doesn't come without struggle.

It is said most places that when females are on the spectrum, they learn to mimic others around them. I have found this to be personally true, right down to the accent or slang used. I quickly and easily start talking like others around me, although I am usually aware I am doing it and sometimes I consciously tell myself not to do it if I am in an uncomfortable situation. I also tell myself to get out of that way of speaking when I am no longer in that same social setting. 

I, and many other Aspie women, feel that ASD in females is highly undiagnosed. There are lots of ways that people can pass off the symptoms as "just being a girl". I found it very interesting when one writer put it "I believe that further investigation into this area would reveal that clinicians, teachers and even sometimes parents make allowances for certain behaviours demonstrated by girls, simply because they are girls" (This link) So basically, we are ignoring certain symptoms that are clearly ASD behaviors, simply because the person is a girl, and that must just be her "dramatic" girly behavior, or whatever. We excuse "fragile" girls from their obsessions with horses or dolls as "girly traits". Most ASD girls have obsessions just like males, but their obsessions are more "socially appropriate", and therefore no one thinks twice about a girl gathering and collecting things related to that obsession.

I also found this link very interesting as well, as it seems to show that rates of females are increasing faster than rates of boys, likely due to increased awareness and information. I believe this is showing that things are changing, and females on the spectrum are becoming identified based on their separate and unique presenting characteristics.

This will continue to change, I believe, due to increased female diagnosis, and as us vocal femaspies (I just made up that word haha!) as we spread the word about our feelings and lives and how we are affected by our ASD.

This and this are one of my favorite links about female ASD because it is written by a female aspie. :) She would know. Just like I would know!

Most of the ASD criteria applies to girls, but the perspective has to be changed. For example, as I (and as the writer of the last 2 posts) said, females present differently. That doesn't mean that ASD symptoms aren't there, it just means that those symptoms may be harder to see.

And as in yesterday's post, I fear that more females are punished for their autism behaviors than boys because they are more likely to go undiagnosed, or thought to not be able to have autism.

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