The CDC reported that while 1 in 54 boys are diagnosed with autism, only 1 in 252 girls are. Some advocates say Autistic women and girls are invisible just aren’t getting the help they need.
A topic that has been on my mind laity. Autistic women learn to cope and blend into society until the pressure to blend in becomes too much and we fail. We need help but won’t get it until the world knows we are here.
We need the world to see – that Autistic women are here, we are amazing, and we are powerful (if allowed to grow in the correct environment).
The first step to solving these problems, say advocates, is actually diagnosing autism in girls. Lawson says, “there needs to be a more feminist approach to autism which is often seen as owned by men,” and that doctors and treatment programs need “an understanding of how autism is experienced by females.” Willey agrees, arguing that the problems of diagnosing autism are similar to those surrounding heart disease: “We now know the calling cards of a heart attack for men, are in many ways different for women. When we better describe autism as it effects women, we can better diagnose.” Often, according to Myers, this will mean paying attention to the kid who’s being quiet, not just the one who’s acting out.
Willey notes that girls on the spectrum do have one advantage over boys: little girls are raised to be more nurturing. While a neurotypical girl might not know her classmate is autistic, she might notice that classmate’s odd behavior or dress and offer advice. Willey explains, “This might mean a ‘normal’ little girl would help an autistic girl learn how to act in groups, how to dress appropriately for an event, how to take care of personal hygiene issues, or even how to handle peer pressure — whereas a ‘normal’ little boy might simply ignore the autistic boy on the playground or the odd little boy who doesn’t bathe often enough.” This can be a big help since aid from peers “helps the brain begin to form structures […] that will help the individual control (or overcome) the more more obvious signs of autism.”