Studies and statistics show that girls/women/people assigned female at birth (AFAB) are diagnosed at a much lower rate in comparison to boys/men/people assigned male at birth (AMAB). This can be put down to how stereotypes about autism create a lot of misrepresentation, and from a young age, women/AFABs are taught to “mask” (camouflaging to be ‘socially acceptable’). There’s lots of different theories as to what make women/AFABs mask but it can also stem from the expectation of women in society to be more palatable, less direct, more polite, etc. This by default then masks and hides their autistic traits that would stereotypically be found in men/boys/AMABs. The problem is that so much of the original autism research is based around white, middle-class, young boys. This is then perpetuated because it’s continued, further on, to more boys, men, etc. The problem we then have is that when people dont fit into that stereotype, they’re either met with resistance of the possible reality that they’re autistic, or those who are autistic won’t know they are because they aren’t afforded the correct information or exposed to other autistic voices like themselves. It’s almost like a barrier is given to them sometimes, a big misinformation barrier. Autism then is often seen as a ‘male thing’, seen in stereotypically coloured and gendered symbols etc as blue puzzle pieces. Therefore, this makes it even harder for autistic women to realise they’re autistic, or even have their reality of autism accepted by others around them because of this.
Autism is not a blue existence. It’s not specific to males/AMABs, and it isn’t a tragedy either – we are not broken. There’s no reason to be blue! I promise! If you’re autistic or suspect you are, i hope you leave this website knowing you are not broken, not a tragedy and that autistic women/girls/AFAB people ARE autistic too!
It is also argued that there is a female/AFAB phenotype of autism, which would mean its innately different, so this plus the stereotypes based on boys/men/AMABs, can cause and perpetuate the lack of understanding we have on how autism looks so different in everyone.
Overall, even if a woman/girl/AFAB were to be medically diagnosed, often there is a reasonable amount of us that sadly face rejection or denial from family members, friends, or others around us about our diagnosis, because we do not fit into their stereotyped and ill-informed idea of autism. Otherwise, any consequent missed diagnoses due to the circulation of autism stereotypes, ill-informed ideas and limited actual real-life instances or realities of autism, create negative impacts and leave autism women/girls/AFABs often in a repetitive cycle of low self esteem and lacking a sense of belonging anywhere. Both self and medical diagnosis can be life-changing in positive ways for so many of us, realising why we are a certain way, or being finally equipped with the words
It is important to not only educate people who aren’t autistic, but also education autistic women/AFABs about the suspected particular phenotype, and how are traits actually look/feel in real life, in real terms, in real situations. Its equally as important to educate everyone about the impact that being socialised as a woman in current society can have on their masking and/or limited autism knowledge. Without this currently, many women/AFABs do not realise they are autistic and struggle with misdiagnosis, incorrect support responses, low self-esteem, poor mental health, employment difficulties, etc. The list can go on.
I hope that this is kept in mind when browsing the site – autism looks so different in everyone, and that’s why it’s so vital that we bust the stereotypes that have been based so strictly around the limited autism research on one sex.