April is World Autism Month! Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition. It is a lifelong condition that has no identifiable cause but is associated with genetics and the environment. Although Autism can differ in symptoms per individual, it is visible in sensory processing, social communication, ability to carry out certain tasks, and emotional and behavioural regulation. Mental health conditions that can co-occur with autism include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsory disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Autism can affect both women and men, however, women and girls with autism tend to present differently than men and boys. In 2018, 1 in 42 males were diagnosed with ASD, while 1 in 165 females were diagnosed with ASD. Women and girls are often undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or diagnosed later in life due to gendered differences in social communication and social behaviour. This affects their experiences and the support available to them for the condition. To promote early diagnosis and better access to support, we must learn to better recognize the signs and symptoms of autism in women and girls.
If you want to learn more, here is a video that shows the lived experiences of women with autism.
Autism Speaks, n.d.
Government of Canada, 2018