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Understanding Autism in Women

Autism is approximately four times more common in males than in females and so historically, research into autism has largely focused on males. Therefore, our understanding of autism in females is still developing. Research is slowly catching up to the realities of life for autistic women and girls. We know that females with autism are more likely to mask their autistic traits than males. 

What is masking?


Masking refers to the act of hiding autistic traits in order to fit in with neurotypical peers. In the short term, this can help autistic individuals in social and professional settings. However, people who mask their autism are more likely to experience emotional challenges such as anxiety and depression. They may also have difficulty forming lasting relationships as they struggle to be their ‘true self’.

It is important to be aware of the unique challenges faced by autistic females and to understand masking behaviour and the effects on those who mask their autism regularly.

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Why do females mask? 

 

Females are typically more able to read social cues and learn to mask their symptoms by observing others and imitating their behaviour. 

 

Males are often diagnosed at an earlier age than girls due to showing more obvious symptoms. As a result, girls may not be diagnosed with autism until they're older, when symptoms become harder to mask.

Further information from the NHS on females and autism can be found here: https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/what-is-autism/autistic-women-and-girls

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