March is Women’s History Month! This month, we celebrate the strides, successes, and uniqueness of women across the globe. Autism impacts the lives of many, with no regard to gender. However, many are unaware that autism may present differently in women than men. Understanding key signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder concerning gender may help you more efficiently and effectively locate the signs in yourself, your children, or your peers.
One key factor to consider when seeking signs of ASD is understanding that symptoms may be more covert in women. Additionally, the generalization that Autism is more prevalent in males increases the possibility that women are far more likely to go undiagnosed. To compound this finding, most tools used in diagnosing Autism are created with a heavy focus on males, making a diagnosis that much more complicated for women.
Overcoming this generalization will aid women in gaining clear, fast, and complete diagnoses. This will aid in women gaining the treatments needed to live a full, successful life. However, understanding the inequalities of ASD diagnoses is only one key factor in understanding the intricacies of Autism in women.
Knowing the Symptoms
Autism in women exposes itself in multiple ways, however, social impairments and behavioral issues are among the main symptoms to present themselves. Socially, women on the spectrum are more likely to isolate and feel discomfort in human connection. This can be represented in a dislike for being touched or even struggles with starting conversations or communicating with others.
To make diagnosis more complex, social impairment can be represented in opposite extremes. This means, while some women with ASD may struggle to communicate comfortably with others, women may also find extreme comfort in over-communicating. Specifically, over-communication is likely to occur about one specific topic.
Women on the spectrum may also experience behavioral issues. This finding does not specifically lend itself to negative behaviors, but more so uncontrollable behaviors. This can present itself as unmanageable limb movements such as flailing or ticks. Similarly, women are likely to engage in compulsive behaviors by creating rituals or routines that must be followed.
While we focus on the importance of equity each day, there is a clearer lens used during Women’s History Month. Equitable ASD diagnosis for women means earlier detection and increased symptom manageability. Diagnostic fairness can make an exponential difference in women’s success. If we work together to resist gender inequality in pinpointing ASD, we can ensure that tools, treatments, and systems are created with men and women in mind!