Autism spectrum disorder or also known as ASD affects a small percentage of people in the world. Usually, it gets commonly diagnosed in male or boys. According to Dr. Christopher Badcock, “…a high-functioning ASD such as Asperger’s syndrome does indeed spare females at the expense of males by at least 10:1.” However, it doesn’t spare girls or women from having it. Since it happens indifferently with them, the mental health condition goes undiagnosed. Sometimes, it gets misdiagnosed and become entirely irrelevant from what it is supposed to be. So to answer the question “how does an autism spectrum disorder look differently in women,” here are the things people need to know.
What Is ASD?
ASD is a developmental state that affects the social and communication abilities of individuals. People often see it as the difficulty in connecting with others due to repetitive and inflexible patterns of unusual behavior. This derived diagnosis appears to be an entire result from male-studied data. Therefore, there is a lack of data that surrounds ASD’s effect on female counterparts. That is why there are years of misunderstanding as to what ASD look like in females. That is also true especially to those women experiencing a high functioning end of the spectrum.
A lot of females who received a diagnosis of ASD were more affected by the symptoms of the condition that mainly occurs during their younger age. These diagnosed females show lower IQ and suffer from extreme behavioral issues as well. Whereas in male counterparts, the symptoms do not often go severe and do not entirely require extensive treatment. In the recent study, there’s evidence that shows that even the brain processes social information differently based on the gender of a person. When males with ASD use a small portion of the brain to manage social situations, it lights up. However, for those males without the mental condition, the brain shows no significant changes. Meanwhile, in females, their brain will result normal and the same with those males “without” the ASD even though they are confident of having it. With that, the conclusion becomes a misdiagnosis on females’ apparent state.
Why Is That?
The indifferent result of both females and males with ASD is still unknown. There’s still an ongoing and follow-up research on the condition of both genders. According to Dr. Tychele Turner, “in terms of genetics, this means that autism in females tends to involve more genetic “hits,” or severe mutations, than it does in boys.” However, in a more psychological approach, females tend to develop social skills more intensely and quickly compared to boys. Meaning, though these individuals are somewhat holding back in social connection, females will not entirely end up having severe social issues compared to males. Perhaps, it is something to do with sex hormones. From an article published by Dr. Rick Nauert, though, it was said that “some researchers have suggested that there is a social bias that increases the likelihood of diagnosis in males, whereas others have proposed that there are sex-based differences in genetic susceptibility.” Though experts are still trying to figure out things concretely, it is best to assume that males and females entirely different characteristics are what making ASD identifiable as of the moment.
Females’ Psychological Capacity
Females’ brain can work faster than their male counterparts. That’s why in most cases, these individuals are much better at mimicking and noticing various types of behavior. Significantly, although females know there’s something wrong with their mental health, they will still try and work hard to appear normal. They can set their brain in both working and resting state. With that mental capacity, their mental state diagnosis will not be adequate with the use of simple observation only. Mental health experts should also have to talk to them about personal experience in managing changes in their lives, particularly in socializing issues. With the unnoticeable symptoms of high functioning ASD, females tend to get diagnosed much later compared to males.
In the case of males with ASD, they are often not interested in surrounding themselves with a lot of people. These individuals don’t care about social connections and always believe that they don’t entirely care about other people. That’s the reason why they sometimes feel okay with their situation without friends and companions. However, for those females with ASD, it’s the opposite. They differ from social issues because they care to surround themselves with people. They often show a greater desire for social interaction and connection. These females still engage in regular communication like those other individuals “without” ASD.
In some cases, they can be too much. Meaning, these females can go intense or too sensitive on a particular subject. That is the reason why ASD in females goes unnoticed for so much more extended period and often gets misdiagnosed for a different disorder.