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Autism in women and girls

Updated: May 3, 2023

Currently, more men and boys are diagnosed with autism than women and

girls. The most recent studies suggest that the ratio of autistic males to

females is estimated to be 3:1. Although attitudes towards autism and gender

are changing, there is still a long way to go and many autistic women and girls

struggle to get the support they need.

Why are more males diagnosed as autistic?

There are several theories surrounding this question. It is thought that there is

a ‘female autism phenotype’ that in simple terms means autistic females have

characteristics which don’t fit with the typical profile. Women and girls tend to

be better at ‘masking’ - hiding their difficulties from others - and it is perhaps

due to this that autism traits are under-reported in girls.

Girls and Autism: Flying Under the Radar

The National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) have

produced a guide about autism in females, which identifies key issues for girls

who have autism spectrum conditions and provides strategies for support in

school. ‘Flying Under the Radar’ identifies that girls are “diagnostically

overshadowed” with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). Females experience

more barriers to diagnosis than males with a similar level of impairment and

research has shown higher levels of misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis,

difficulty in accessing diagnosis and lack of diagnosis in women and girls. You

can read Flying Under the Radar here. (You will need to register with nasen to

access, registration is free)

The National Autistic Society (NAS) recently launched a campaign to highlight

late diagnosis of ASC. #NowIKnow features powerful photography and films

of both autistic women and non-binary people who share their experiences of

late diagnosis of autism. The campaign was inspired by the words of Dawn

Mills, who was diagnosed at the age of 56 and is one of the individuals who

took part. She said: “I always knew who I was, now I know why I am.” The

campaign tells the stories of six people, photographed in spaces reflecting

their personalities and interests. In addition, the photos were taken by an

autistic photographer. The NAS invites other autistic women and non-binary

people to share their stories across social media under the hashtag

#NowIKnow. You can find out more about the campaign here and additional

stories on the NAS Instagram.

Looking for personalized support to help your child succeed? Meet Charlotte, a teacher for 11 years and qualified SENCO. She currently teaches in a SEND School, supporting children with ASC and GDD. Learn more about Charlotte and how she can make a difference in your child's education journey: Charlotte

Excellent caring teachers who work together with parents and students to put together the best supportive plan possible. Would highly recommend. Stephanie Sercombe
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