Autism is substantially more common in boys than in girls, and while the causes for this skewed sex ratio are unknown, biological factors are thought to play a role. The way autism is defined and diagnosed may also have an impact on this male-to-female ratio, which is known as a diagnostic bias.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provided the most thorough data on the sex ratio for autism. According to data, there will be 4.2 boys diagnosed with autism for every girl.
This raises the question of whether there are variations between boys and girls with autism in terms of female autism symptoms versus male autism symptoms.
Autism Differences Between Men and Women
In focusing on the elements that may influence this sex ratio, it is critical to keep a possible diagnostic bias in mind. According to research, girls are diagnosed with autism later in life than boys. This means that female autism symptoms may be more difficult to detect. According to Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder, girls are frequently diagnosed only if they exhibit major social difficulties. Females with lighter symptoms, according to researchers, are being neglected.
Because symptoms of autism in women may be less visible, and because doctors, schools, and parents sometimes link autism with boys, a considerable percentage of girls and women with autism may go unnoticed.
Several approaches for diagnosing autism are based on observations of behaviors in boys and men, and because autism manifests differently in girls, the current sex ratio is likely to be erroneous. Even if this diagnostic bias were eliminated, males would still be diagnosed at a higher rate than women. Studies presented at the 2015 International Conference for Autism Research validated this notion. Even after scientists tracked infants from birth and frequently checked for autism to reduce this bias, a three-to-one sex ratio was discovered.
In terms of biological characteristics, the brains of people with autism tend to have gene expressions that are more common in men than in women. Women may also be “protected” from genetic alterations in comparison to men.
Autism Symptoms in Women
When discussing the symptoms of autism in women and girls, one of two adjectives is frequently used: subtle or prominent.
Although each autistic person is unique, whether male or female, females display fewer repetitive behaviors and narrower interests than men. They also have more “socially acceptable” hobbies, as girls and women with autism have a greater urge to fit in with their classmates. Women frequently disguise autistic characteristics by imitating their peers. This makes identification more difficult as compared to their male counterparts, who frequently observe silently or walk away during social situations.
Overall, the symptoms of autism are comparable in men and women. The main difference between men and women with autism is that women are more prone to conceal their symptoms. Women, for example, may intentionally force themselves to make eye contact, converse, and mimic social behavior. Despite this, evidence suggests that women with autism may struggle more than men with many aspects of the disorder (i.e. they may showcase greater emotional issues and less of an ability to adapt). This yet again demonstrates that autism is a profoundly individualistic illness.
Do You Have Adult Autism? (Self-Assessment)
This quick quiz created by an expert might assist you in determining whether you are experiencing symptoms prevalent in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Checklist for Women with Autism
Because no two people with autism are the same, the symptoms and indicators of autism in women differ from one another.
Having said that female autism signs to be aware of include:
Symptoms of social communication and human interaction
- Resistance to being touched
- Preferring to spend time alone An inability to look at people or initiate a conversation Difficulties interpreting social cues and nonverbal forms of communication Talking extensively about a specific issue, especially if others are not responsive
- Repeated motions
- Creating individual rituals or routines
- focusing on specific activities or items
- Possessing food aversions or preferences, particularly with regard to textures
- Having a stronger sense of light and sound than others
Symptoms of autism in women are frequently less visible than they were when these individuals were children. Although their symptoms may not have gone away, women with autism may have learned coping methods to make them less noticeable. In other circumstances, it may not be obvious that autism is linked to specific behaviors. A lady, for example, may come across as abrupt or rude because she does not appear interested in others. Yet, this could be a sign of autism. The same is true for women who feel extremely apprehensive in social situations or find it difficult to establish acquaintances.
Autism Is a Chronic Disorder, and Women May Be Underdiagnosed
Although some women with autism learn to live with their symptoms, this spectrum disease can have long-term effects on a person’s behavior, social skills, and learning.
Regrettably, women are prone to be underdiagnosed, which can have an impact on their quality of life. There is so much wonderful help available. Nevertheless, without a diagnosis, certain women with autism may never receive the treatment they deserve. That is why it is critical to express your worries with your friends, family, and, most importantly, professionals who specialize in autism.