Autism Spectrum in Females

Unfortunately, many women with autism go undiagnosed. Historically, autism has been diagnosed more frequently in males than females, leading to a gender bias in research and clinical understanding. This bias stems from the fact that autism presents differently in females, often manifesting in subtler ways that may be overlooked or misinterpreted.

Females with autism often exhibit different behavioral patterns and coping mechanisms compared to males. They may display stronger social skills, as they tend to have a larger emotional vocabulary, greater awareness and desire for social interaction, and an ability to mimic others in social situations. They also tend to have intact symbolic and imaginary play and may develop a few close friendships. Their restricted interests may be more related to people and animals rather than inanimate objects, which is often seen in males.

Often, women will go undiagnosed because their behaviors may be mistakenly attributed to shyness, anxiety, or other conditions. Autism in females is a complex phenomenon, but by recognizing the distinctive characteristics, more women can get the support they need.

Camouflaging in ASD

Some people with Autism Spectrum Disorder may hide or camouflage their symptoms, making it harder to recognize and diagnose. Research points to this being a protective effect, more common in females. This “Camouflaging Effect” is because females are more likely to hide behaviors associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder likely because of social pressures, leading to higher rates of internalizing disorders like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

There are three categories of camouflaging. The first one is compensation, which is how an individual compensates for social challenges. This is often in the form of copying the behaviors of other people. The second category is masking, which is how an individual attempts to hide autistic characteristics. This can be done by forcing eye contact and tolerating overwhelming situations even when in distress. The third category is assimilation which is how an individual fits in with others in social contexts like forcing interactions with others. Camouflaging in Autism Spectrum disorder is a complex trait that can make identification harder.  Hence, comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessment is recommended in order to provide a thorough understanding of the child or adolescent.

If you have any concerns about a social emotional developmental condition, please call our office to schedule a consultation.