Saturday, 12 October 2013

Autism is not just a boy thing

What does autism look like?

If you go by most mainstream media coverage and the photos splashed across the usual "awareness" websites, it looks like a small child who is almost always white and almost always male. But that doesn't mean white, male and prepubescent is the default state for autism.

Just as likely to be on the spectrum as that
little boy behind the sheet of shower glass
Just like heart disease, women on the spectrum can present very differently from our male counterparts.  And just like heart disease, research that mostly uses male subjects has resulted in knowledge about the condition being skewed quite heavily towards male presentation.

The official stats say there are about four males on the spectrum for every female, but I don't think that necessarily means it's four times more common in men.  Since getting a diagnosis still relies far, far too much on money, luck, and co-incidence, I think it possibly just means we're four times better at diagnosing males.

Here is a good write-up on the differences between autistic men and women, and some research findings into how the condition differs between the sexes.  And here is a case study, where an autistic girl had to wait much longer for a diagnosis than her brother who's also on the spectrum.

Women's presentations can be more subtle (insofar as anything is "subtle" if you don't know what you're looking for), but that doesn't mean we're less affected than our male counterparts.  In my experience, it just meant that my very obvious differences and difficulties were either misdiagnosed or it was assumed I was doing it deliberately for some weird reason of my own.

Want to learn more about women on the spectrum?  Find out from the source:

Blogs by women on the spectrum:
Autistic Hoya by Lydia Brown
Crazy Girl in an Aspie World by Amanda J Harrington
Disability and Representation by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg
Golden Hearted Rose by Rose
Luna Lindsey
Musings of Ade
Musings of an Aspie by Cynthia
Radical Neurodivergence Speaking by Neurodivergent K
Tiny Grace Notes by Elizabeth J "Ibby" Grace
Yes, That Too by Alyssa

Resources for women on the spectrum:
Autism Women's Network: support for women and girls on the spectrum
Women with Autism Facebook group

There are no doubt loads of excellent blogs and resources I've missed, because the internet's a big place and I don't spend as much time exploring it as I used to.  So, if you've got a suggestion to add to the list, please leave it in the comments.