Tag Archives: male

Why are we still hearing that more Males than Females are Autistic?

Women and autism has long been a controversial topic. For years many women were diagnosed as schizophrenic, depressed or just ignored instead of being given a diagnosis of autism. But now a lot of these women are taking matters in to their own hands, and forcing the world to look at autistic women and girls in a new light. You only have to spend five minutes on Twitter looking through their stories to see the common thread. They had a child/friend/husband with autism, or just read up on it, and felt that perhaps they were autistic, and then went to a professional to have that confirmed, and were either flat-out refused, or were told that they could not be autistic because, they had friends, children or could talk to the Dr/psychologist, and sent away again. A few years down the line the strain of living with undiagnosed autism, while trying to act and live like a non-autistic person, becomes too much, and they have an autistic crash. There are a lot of cases of late diagnoses or self-diagnosis, and as I say most of the stories follow a similar path. It should by now be clear to us that women and girls are autistic too, and that we need to take notice of this, and make sure that they can get the acknowledgement they need earlier in life. But there is one statement that is still thrown around far too much in my view, and perhaps it is one of the things holding us back.

`There are far more autistic males than females`.

Think about that for a second. It’s something I can recall hearing years ago, before anyone worked out a female profile for autism, and before the boom in autistic women coming out, and making the professionals sit up and take notice. But why do I still see it so much today? We know now that autism does not just present itself in one way. Now I don’t believe in a female/male profile per-say, as I know some men who would fit the so-called female profile, who therefore went undiagnosed themselves for years. That’s not to say that the female profile has not been a huge help and that a lot of women do not fit in to it, it’s just to say that we want to keep learning more and changing our ideas, instead of getting stuck in a whole new ridged way of thinking about things. There are a lot of autistic women out there now who would never have been diagnosed without the `female profile` though, and what it does show us is how blinkered professionals have been when it comes to giving out diagnoses of autism. When you think that we have known about autism for less than one hundred years, it seems strange that we should set such clear, unmoving statements as `There are far more autistic males than females. `

Let’s look at it this way – we hear some people in the media talk about an `autism epidemic` and about how `there was no such thing as autism in the past. ` We know that this is a silly argument. We found out what autism is, and the more we learn about it the more we can notice it in people. Therefore more people are being diagnosed as autistic. It’s not hard to work out.  And I think the same goes for the statement about more men being autistic than women, or boys than girls. We might have more males on the books diagnosed as autistic than females, but I would be willing to bet that this is only down to the fact that most of the women or girls who are diagnosed have to fight for years to get that diagnoses. It’s as if the system said “Women and girls cannot be autistic.” and then made sure it was so, and that fact would remain true by refusing to diagnose them for years. When we look at the amount of women who have been forced to the point of having an autistic crash, and losing their jobs, as well as suffering from related mental health issues due to this, it is clear that something must change.

Perhaps the first step in this would be to stop saying that more males are autistic than females, and just stop worrying about those numbers. Assess everyone on their own, and not as a male or female, and see if they are autistic.  Don’t let their gender play a part in your thinking.  We know that autism can present in different ways: sometimes in outbursts, sometimes in being quiet, sometimes in being unable to understand emotions, sometimes in being too empathetic to others to the point of neglecting yourself, and these points, along with other things, are what we should think of when we think of autism. Not one set idea that only applies to one small section of society.

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Male and female autism.

Ever since it was first discovered autism has always been more prevalent in men than women – or at least that`s what everybody believed until recently. But now it`s fairly common knowledge that autism simply presents differently in many women than it does in most men. Although the core elements around feelings and social skills are still the same, a lot of the outward signs will be different. For some reason, women also seem to be better at hiding their autism, and fitting in with the neuro-typical people around them – although this can take a huge toll on their mental health. Nowadays people talk about both the male criteria, and the female criteria. In itself this is a very positive thing as it will lead to a lot more women being diagnosed, and being able to access help, and improve their own quality of life. It also helps people to understand autism a lot more as it takes away the mystery of why it seemingly affects so many men, and so few women. The only problem I have with it is the terminology itself – male and female profiles. While there is no denying the majority of men present a certain way, and the majority of women in another way, this isn’t true of everybody. I know a lot of males who fit with what would be considered the female profile of autism, and there are women who fit the male profile. Even though most people in the autistic community probably know this, I do worry that some people may still remain undiagnosed because doctors, and professionals might simply be checking off things on the female profile, for example, and the individual might be a female who fits the typically male diagnostic profile – it is always important to remember how little the people who refer individuals for diagnosis actually know about autism – and I worry that giving them such a black and white criteria as a male and female profile will lead to trouble in the long-run. While it is important to make people aware of the different presentations of people on the spectrum, I think using more gender- neutral terminology might be better. Of course things like type 1 and type 2 have negative connotations – and they are the same terms used for diabetes, and other conditions – but perhaps they could just be called profile 1 and profile 2? It might not be that big a deal, I just worry that terminology sounding so gender- specific will alienate smaller groups of people, both male and female, who fall in to the opposite sexes profile.
One issue that occurs to me from a male point of view is that most men diagnosed with autism that fitted the female profile probably wouldn’t do anything to act on it. I know it might sound silly, but most men, especially younger men, would probably be annoyed if told they fitted a female profile for autism – whereas if they were told they fitted profile 2, they`d be fine. A lot of women might be annoyed if they were told they had a masculine presentation of autism – it`s not exactly the most flattering thing you could say to somebody.
Also, there is the issue of women who fit what is known as the female profile being so much better at masking their autism, and living seemingly neuro-typical lives, but at great personal cost. But what about men who fit the female profile? How many men could be out there living under the radar – struggling and getting by day to day, putting up a front, and suffering with depression or eating disorders due to the strain? Surely it would be easier for them to recognise what might be going on for them if they didn’t think these traits were exclusive to female autism?
The idea of recognising alternative profiles for autism, and diagnosing people who would have slipped under the radar, is of course a very positive thing, but I feel that a more gender- neutral approach may be best.

If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter https://twitter.com/ASKPERGERS Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ASKPERGERS?ref=hl

And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!) http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762