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This is Why Autism Manifests Itself Differently in Women

Because misperception of autism is a bigger problem for boys than for girls, it is more difficult to get an early diagnosis for women.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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Girls with autism are not diagnosed in a timely manner, putting them at risk of receiving early intervention therapies and critical assistance. These behaviors begin to develop, become more prominent, and have a more significant effect on your functioning.

Meghan Miller, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the MIND Institute. Her research uses a developmental psychopathology framework to understand the early onset of neurodevelopmental disorders, focusing on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social communication difficulties and restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. The mean age of diagnosis is approximately four years.

According to Dr. Miller, this condition affects one to two percent of children and its prevalence in identifying women with ASD has increased.

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There are two categories. The first is the symptoms of social communication such as difficulties with social and emotional reciprocity, problems with non-verbal communication such as gestures or facial expressions, and difficulty developing, maintaining, or understanding relationships. The second is restricted interests or repetitive behaviors, such as repetitive motor movements, insistence on equality, or inflexibility.

When doctors were researching autism, at first, they only studied men. This makes it difficult for anyone else to be diagnosed because everything is based on the male brain. Girls often display different features than men, so it can take years for women to be diagnosed.

The main reason girls are late diagnosed is because they are particularly good at one thing that men are not so good at when it comes to autism: masking. The expert explains that these conditions, "is where you take the traits that everyone else is showing and start to portray them as yourself."

Children with autism are not interested in socializing and often when asked, they don't care if they have friends or not. On the other hand, girls care and show a much greater desire to connect.

Dr. Miller notes that "girls with ASD do not tend to have as repetitive behavior as boys, and many of their hobbies and interests are similar to those of other girls without ASD." Also, they tend to be seen as too much, which means they are often too intense or sensitive about a particular topic or too rigid about their schedule.

Fortunately, there are many programs in the United States to help. These different resources help girls with ASD to socialize, better manage their hygiene and even talk about dating. There is a Girls Night Out program in Kansas City and another in New York called The Felicity House. Those are two resources that can help you live in those areas, and you're having a hard time finding someone to talk to about anything that can cause you to be stressed, anxious, or just plain worried.

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